SoCal Power Women: 5 Questions With Jamison Services' Jaime Lee
This limited series profiles SoCal Power Women who have helped shape cities, neighborhoods, businesses and lifestyles in Los Angeles and Orange counties. These women will be honored at Bisnow's SoCal Power Women event Dec. 13.
As the head of Jamison Services, Jaime Lee has her hands in everything. As the CEO of Jamison, a real estate company her father, David, founded, Lee oversees the management, brokering and leasing of about 18M SF of office, mixed-use properties and multifamily developments in Los Angeles. Aside from her family's business, Lee has been named as board president of the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners and serves as a board member of the California Film Commission.
How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?
Lee: I am a real estate attorney working at my family’s business, which my father started about 25 years ago. Today we are the largest developer and one of the largest commercial landlords in Los Angeles. I oversee all of our leasing and brokerage activities along with external relations, capital improvements and a multitude of other hats one wears while working in a family business.
What is the biggest business problem you have faced and how did you solve it?
Lee: After the recession, vacancy rates crept up and demand for office space was low as were net effective rates. We knew we had to reposition our portfolio to appeal to a new generation of users, namely, millennials. We took a leap and converted an empty office building into amenity-rich, millennial-focused apartments, and it leased up in three months. With that success we began converting other buildings and acquiring land to develop. Our pipeline of 7,000 apartments came together just as acknowledgment of LA’s housing crisis was becoming widespread. At the same time we started major renovations on select office buildings to attract media and technology tenants with great success.
What is one thing you think companies can do to address wage and gender inequality?
Lee: They have to recognize that there’s a problem. Each company needs to understand its own metrics and take responsibility for the inequities that creep into every organization. Most groups have the best intentions and policies but inadvertently perpetuate the wage and gender gap by not drilling into their numbers. If we all take ownership of making measurable improvements in our own data, we can begin to address these issues.
What piece of advice do you give others entering the industry?
Lee: I am still amazed at how often I attend meetings, events or tours and the other party is unprepared. Being diligent and overprepared can greatly enhance your reputation in this industry, especially in the beginning. I always remember the person who is poised, confident and has a credible answer for every question.
What do you do to unwind when you’re not working?
Lee: I have two little babies, a 2-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son. They are an unbelievable joy, so I spend as much time with them (and my husband) as possible! I also do yoga, listen to Audible in the car, and volunteer a ton for civic and nonprofit organizations across LA.
Meet Jamison Services CEO Jaime Lee at Bisnow's SoCal Power Women event Dec. 13 at the LA Grand Hotel Downtown.