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Savills Hires Donna Abood From Avison Young To Lead Push Into South Florida

Savills is looking to grab a bigger share of the South Florida office market by poaching one of the area's trailblazing brokers. 

Donna Abood, center, with her family, has joined Savills after a decade at Avison Young.

The UK-based, tenant-focused brokerage firm has tapped Donna Abood, a former managing director at Avison Young, as co-head of the Florida region. Abood is bringing two other executives with her to Savills, which doubles the firm's South Florida headcount and signals that it is looking to increase market share in the region. 

Mike Griffin, who leads Savills' Tampa Bay office, is also being promoted to co-head of the state's operations. 

“In hiring Donna and elevating Mike, we are signaling to the market — and our competitors — that Savills is firmly planting its flag in the Sunshine State,” Janet Woods, president of Savills North America, said in a statement. 

Abood and Griffin will spearhead Savills’ growth strategy in Florida with a focus on recruiting, revenue production and increasing the brand’s visibility in the state, according to a release. It is exactly the type of work Abood loves, she told Bisnow in an interview Monday. 

“We have a lot of work to do, both with branding and with people and recruiting, but that’s why I wanted the job,” she said. “That's exactly what I'm all about. That's what I do. I'm really excited to get back to what I do well.” 

Abood’s brother, Joseph Abood, and Peyton Dowd have also joined Savills from Avison Young as managing directors. They will work with Savills' South Florida team of Tom Capocefalo, who will remain Savills' Miami market leader, Corbin Brailsford and Lizzy Santana. 

Abood's early focus in South Florida will be on recruiting new talent and increasing brand awareness in the region. She said she sees room for as many as 16 South Florida brokers at Savills.

The Florida and national teams at Savills are still hammering out the specifics of their strategy, but Abood said the firm would likely bring on industrial brokers next, given the current team's focus in the office sector. A retail presence would follow that, she said. 

“They came to me and told me that they had put the resources aside to grow the whole state, to back up the strategy,” Abood said. “That’s key, and I talk about it every day to make sure it’s still the case. They’re 150% invested in this strategy and behind making Florida a major market for them.”

Her coverage area at Savills will extend from Miami to south of Tampa Bay, with Griffin responsible for overseeing the Tampa market and areas north of the city, like Naples and Fort Myers. 

Abood has leased more than 80M SF of office space over her career and was the first female managing director in Toronto-based Avison Young’s history. She joined the brokerage in 2014 after Avison Young acquired her Miami-based firm, Abood Wood-Fay Real Estate Group. Michael Fay and John Crotty, who also came over in that acquisition, remain with Avison Young.

Abood is involved in several civic organizations, having chaired the board at the Miami-Dade Beacon Council and the board of governors for the business school at Florida State University

“Donna’s innovative leadership style aligns perfectly with mine, and I am looking forward to partnering with her to execute our strategic priorities in the state,” Griffin said in a statement. “Her deep local ties in South Florida will enhance and accelerate our ability to expand our presence and success throughout the region.”