FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Corrine Jackman
October 25, 2016
Corrine Jackman has been around you know, and by that I mean: around every type of commercial real estate, around large and small firms, large and small projects and really knows her stuff. She was reluctant and admitted being a big nervous about being interviewed. Which is not to say she’s shy or timid – I didn’t see that at all, but ‘private’. My prying questions revealed plenty and her nervousness wasn’t apparent. She is Vice President of Hopewell Real Estate Services. We’ve crossed paths before but I had no idea how deeply woven into the fabric of Calgary’s commercial real estate management her career has been. I met Corrine a few years ago on a BOMA Building of the Year tour; her firm was presenting an entry, I was heading the judging panel. We’ve each put a few miles on our tires since then – and it was great to catch up recently over lunch … she was looking well and happy, having just returned from three weeks in Tuscany. Seems the food and wine were awesome.
In the beginning …
Born in Calgary of ‘from Saskatoon’ parents. Her dad died when she was 10. Mom remarried. One younger brother – and she recalls school days as happy, being a good student, but anxious to get out and work. Which she did.
After graduation from Ernest Manning High, when friends were heading off to university, she headed off to work. Early days and influences set her on a path of continuous improvement and focus. While she excelled as a cocktail waitress and as a Riley’s Datashare staffer, she wanted more. She’d connected with John Sherbut who suggested she give property management a try – and she’s thrived at it. Her stops (apologies if I missed one or got these out of sequence): John Sherbut’s firm, Westform, United, then Standard Life in Vancouver and skiing at Whistler (where she met a guy – marriage and moving to Kansas City, Kansas followed, but that didn’t take). She returned, to Canada, to property management and to Calgary: Coscan Properties, Pioneer, set up an interim-management venture with partner Gail Yahn, met and married software sales guy Gerald Jackman (they’ve been married 20+ years, their two sons are now in university). Along their path, moves to Winnipeg, back to Calgary: progressive responsibilities at Bentall, Oxford, then to her current position at Hopewell in 2010, filling the post established by and then vacated by her old pal Gail Yahn – where Corrine heads up their property management wing – 20 staff in her shop managing 3.6 million sq. ft. of space in AB, MB and GTA – mostly Hopewell properties, some third-party work as well. She’s been active in the industry and BOMA – never did find the time to complete her last assignment to earn her CPM designation. “I’ll stop working so hard, one of these days”. And she’s still smiling!
Why are you successful? “I’m a hard worker. I used to take myself ‘way too seriously’, and in some respects I still do. I believe in putting out good quality work. My mom thinks I’m really smart. When I started out I took on a lot of work other people didn’t want to do – and had to figure out solutions on my own. And common sense. It seems to not be so common.”
What has held you back? “Not having a post-secondary education. If I had, I might have had more self-confidence early on. But I wanted to get out on my own – and I did. Many of my friends who went off to university haven’t achieved what I have, so I don’t regret my choices.”
So, seven years on at Hopewell, what’s next for you? “I have no plans to move – we have a great group and I love it there. Retirement at some point – travelling, and volunteering, but right now I’m very happy with no plans.”
Some interviews I do are difficult, some are easy. When someone starts out ‘tentative’ as Corrine was, I sometimes have a tough time getting them to open up and be forthcoming in a way that reveals and enlightens. I found Corrine to be far more open and engaging than I first thought she would be. Lucky me.
How do you see your business – ‘fee-for-service property managers’ – going forward over the next quarter?
… we are growing, we’ve had some recent acquisitions and are actively developing in Surrey, BC and in Calgary. Hopewell is a merchant developer, so there is a steady flow of new projects and JV work hitting our desks.
And over the next five years?
… it’s changing. And it’s not. Data capture methods are always evolving with new technology – and buildings are changing, becoming more ‘green’, more efficient. But we will still have to make decisions. We will still need to manage properties day-to-day, generate budgets, do accounting.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… honesty and connection – people who feel, and act, like our partners rather than ‘just someone they do work for’. Give-and-take relationships. They can get better, and so can we, when we work together.
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Corrine Jackman, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
... I care about the work I put out there, that my team puts out there. People don’t call to say ‘great job’, they call with problems! So, we are problem solvers. I like to play that role and I like to hire people who do too.
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… if people feel appreciated they get more invested in the decisions they make. I certainly feel that way. I meet with everybody weekly. Things happen so quickly, and regular team meetings really help get everything out on the table. We have a really good time and, I think, and we have a great ‘Hopewell culture’.
… YES! One son is living at his frat house, one is still living at home – we have a busy life but I don’t work crazy hours anymore. Maybe 50 hours a week.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… like most people, I expect, about our investments and plans for retiring. Yet, I can’t imagine ‘not working’. Volunteering, travel, living to 90. Maybe a 100!
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… my mom. She’s a strong woman who encouraged me, taught me to be ‘independent of a man’. Lots of good mentors and co-workers throughout my career. Most significant was John Sherbut – he told me I would be great at property management and encouraged me even though I knew nothing about it at the time.
… travel, wine-tasting club. Golfing (handicap 34) since 2012. We play at Redwood Meadows. Painting – oils, good enough to hang in my living room but not for commercial sale.
What do you read?
… I used to read the Economist … now mostly lots of online news [she admits to being a politics junkie like me – we agreed the world is bizarre with a severe shortage of ‘bright shining examples’]. Last novel – Gone Girl, loved it.
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