By Meghan Hall
After two years working as an independent consultant, one of the region’s largest industry players has jumped back into the game. This fall, Colliers International announced that Beth Halvorsen would be taking over as the firm’s new Executive Managing Director, becoming one of just several women leading major CRE firms in the region. The Registry recently spoke with Halvorsen on how she plans to take on her new role and her outlook for the Puget Sound market.
This fall, you stepped into the role of Executive Managing Director for Colliers International in the Greater Puget Sound market. As Executive Managing Director, what are your top goals for the firm?
Colliers has an incredible reputation as a global real estate service provider. It’s no secret that my goal is to build and grow our Seattle and Bellevue business. We are poised for growth, with many of the most well-respected brokers in the market supporting top institutional clients. I am a firm believer that if you support and take care of your brokers and clients, the business will grow.
You will be joining Colliers after two years working as an independent consultant within the industry. How have those experiences helped you to prepare for your new position?
I’ve been in the Commercial Real Estate Industry for over 30 years, through many cycles, wearing many different hats. But being an independent consultant taught me how hard it is to hustle for business opportunities and I really respect what our brokers have to do each and every day to make a living. The value of being out there with a visible presence in the market, being knowledgeable about trends, data and being able to add value to your clients. This is a relationship business, and building your personal reputation means showing up, being someone who can be counted on, and delivering results.
According to the CREW Network, the percentage of women in senior vice president, managing director and partner level positions decreased from 27 percent to 22 percent. As one of the few women who has made it to the top, what is it like to have the opportunity to lead one of the region’s largest agencies?
Without a doubt I’m proud of this opportunity, and proud to work for a company like Colliers who saw the value in what my experience brings to the table. We have exceptional female professionals in our business as Colliers has a great industry reputation for fostering a diverse bench of talent, and I intend to continue to make inroads wherever I can.
What is your advice for those—especially women—breaking into the market?
You have to be brave, and you have to sometimes be willing to work twice as hard as everyone else to get your foot in the door. Find professionals advocates that will endorse you for your skills and seek to be part of an organization that has a track record of promoting and installing females as leaders within its business. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and don’t give up – persistence pays off.
2020 has been a tricky year for many. Looking across the Puget Sound market, what is your outlook for the region in the next 12 to 24 months?
I wish I had a crystal ball, but I think we are in some challenging times that will likely continue. The Puget Sound region is lucky to have a broad range of sectors, some that are doing exceptionally well during this time, and others that are suffering. It will be a balancing act for sure, but long term the region has the ability to recover and grow with leading industries.
What are some of the lessons that CRE professionals have learned as a result of the pandemic? How will these lessons resonate into the future?
Well for me, I’m a mother of three teenagers, and I’ve learned to slow down a bit and enjoy little things like having dinner at the dining room table and family movie night. I think we’ve all learned that we do not need to be on an airplane, traveling every week to build or maintain relationships or transact day to day business. Do I miss seeing everyone, absolutely. But do I need to sacrifice my evenings five nights a week to stay connected to this industry and our relationships, no, I think we’ve all learned we can do that remotely and effectively.
What are some of the specific strategies you hope to employ to allow for Colliers’ continued growth and performance within the region?
Colliers is known for empowering their brokers, being a collaborative and un-restrictive environment, and we are a flat organization. I already feel the energy that comes from an entrepreneurial and enterprising approach to our business and I’m looking forward to actively representing our brand in the market and supporting our team. Recruiting new talent to join Colliers is a priority, and finding the right people who fit in with the culture that is here will be my primary focus.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role? Why?
At the end of the day, I love people and I love helping others get to where they want to go. This role allows me to do that. I also love business development, business pursuits and growing deep relationships with our clients. If I do those things well, the opportunities to expand our client base and grow our P&L will happen.
Is there anything you would like to add? Anything that we should be asking?
I’ve worked on both the East and West coasts, in a variety of positions over the years. I’ve been on the Landlord side as an Asset Manager on a diverse real estate portfolio, I’ve worked as a leader on a major Occupier account serving multi-market in-house portfolios, and I’ve run a 50 MSF asset services property management account for the largest service provider in our industry driving a significant P&L. I’ve worked for third party service providers as a property manager and handling leasing but my very first job was at the front desk in a customer service position answering the phones, dispatching work orders and responding to leasing inquiries. You have to start somewhere, but it’s a great industry, filled with unlimited possibilities and it’s been a great ride so far.