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Consider Us Professionals. Period.
- July 12, 2013
- Our People
By Miriam Lamey | New York
NEW YORK CITY-Jacqueline Klinger partner with SCG Retail was the recipient of REBNY’s Deal of the Year award for the Whole Foods market she helped bring to Harlem. And this is one of the many projects in which she has been involved during her illustrious career. As a commercial real estate professional, she has seen and experienced a great deal, but at the end of the day, she still has fun with her work. Which, for many, can be key to making connections, keeping them and truly finding the great deals.
How did you become involved in the commercial real estate industry and the retail sector in particular?
My first job after I graduated from college was working on the restoration of Grand Central Terminal at Williams, Jackson, Ewing. I was born and raised in Manhattan and thought it would be an interesting experience to work on such an important and historical project. I was in Grand Central Terminal nearly every weekend throughout my time at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Envisioning it as more of destination than simply a transit hub was fascinating. What appealed to me was the importance of using both business acumen and imagination to be effective.
My job at WJE was to specifically focus on the retail development portion of the project. We were doing all local leasing and part of my job was to go out and find new great retail and restaurants. I loved doing it. I was in the commercial real estate business and I was having great fun. I still am.
Congratulations on winning REBNY’s Deal of the Year award!
What was most significant about receiving the recognition for this particular project?
There is both personal and professional significance to the Deal of the Year award. From a professional standpoint, it was the culmination of a long and complex deal that worked because we had long-established relationships with all the principles. Trust and relationships go a long way in taking something from a long-shot to a done-deal. Chase Welles and I worked to make sure that the Whole Foods deal was a strong investment — both financially and on a broader level. Our team appreciated the significance of this deal not simply as a business transaction but to the people of Harlem as well.
New York City is my home. I was born and bred here. Any proud New Yorker wants to figure out what he or she can do to make this a better place — and I feel like the Whole Foods I helped put in Harlem will do just that. It will improve life for residents of this fabled community. It will be a retail cornerstone attracting even more merchants, it will ensure good, nutritious food will be readily available to a trade area that values it, and it will simply make life better for all those around it. It was an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to be a key member of the team that made this deal a reality.
Doing deals like this is why I am in this business – it’s important to me — and it’s why this deal meant so much.
What has been the most memorable part of your career, aside from the recent award?
If I look back at the last 16 years of working in commercial real estate two seminal events come to mind. One is clearly winning Deal of the Year this Year for the Whole Foods in Harlem — it’s the pinnacle of a lot of learning, a lot of work, and lot of relationship building. But the other highlight I look back at is the moment I met David Firestein. At the time he was the principal at Northwest Atlantic (now SCG Retail). He took a chance on a young, inexperienced rookie and made a commitment to teach me the brokerage side of the business. I have never forgotten that. 12 years later, I’m a partner in the firm and I’m still learning from him. When I accepted the Deal of the Year Award last month — I did so with a full appreciation of David’s role not only in the firm’s growth and success but in mine as well.
How would you describe your experience as a woman in this industry, as opposed to other fields in which you may have worked?
My experience as a woman in this industry has been positive overall — but of course there have been occasional challenges. This is an industry that is dominated, in terms of numbers, by men. Being a woman comes with its advantages and disadvantages. If you are aware of both the pluses and minuses and take neither too seriously, then you will keep your stride. If every time I was spoken down to because I was a woman, I felt defeated, then I would have never lasted in this business. I play the long game when confronted with sexism. I most often won’t give someone the satisfaction of recognizing or legitimizing that kind of behavior. Instead, I simply wait until a deal is done and let my results speak for themselves. I’ve found that’s a more effective strategy versus calling-out each person who chooses petty behavior over basic respect. On the flip side, there are occasions when you get preferential treatment because of your gender; I don’t ask for it — but I take that as it comes as well. In the end, I don’t want to be known as a successful female broker — and I don’t know a lot of men who want to be labeled as male leaders in their industry either. I think most of us just want to be considered professionals. Period.
A younger woman asks you for career advice. What would you tell her in order to succeed in commercial real estate?
I always urge younger people starting out in this business to keep in mind that everything comes back around – the good and the bad. Your focus should be long-term and you should always treat everyone with kindness, honesty and respect. I don’t know many people in this business who don’t have a very good memory. I remember each person that was decent to me when I was starting in the business and they are still my favorite people to deal with. I also remember those who have been on the other side of that equation. I’ll still do business with them — why should I loose business because of someone else’s poor judgement? But I go in knowing exactly who I am dealing with. And with regard to specific advice for women in our field, I think that the most important thing is to always support other women. I was a beneficiary of some great mentoring from female role models and I try to play the role of mentor now. Looking out for one another is how we will grow in number, grow in prosperity and change the business for the better.