Q&A With Cushman & Wakefield Canada's New CEO Chuck Scott
Chuck Scott, freshly minted CEO for Cushman & Wakefield’s Canadian operations, tells us his mission is to position the firm for continual nationwide growth while driving a high-performance culture.
Bisnow: So what are your plans in your new role?
Chuck Scott: There’s never been a better time to be part of Cushman. We’ve got new owners who are laser-focused on growth, who want to supercharge the platform and organization. And we’re coming off a record year where we’ve had massive momentum in all areas of the firm and in different markets. So we’ve got this good perfect storm timing-wise, and I want to leverage that. Our new owners don’t want any gaps; not to say we have many right now, but every organization has areas of its service that could be better.
My plan is to grow the company by focusing on three areas: First, ensure we have a high-performance culture in everything we do, in our relationships and results, and in how we treat each other. Second, get the absolute best people to be a part of this organization and put them in the right places, and make sure we’re collaborative. Finally, organize around clients. We’re fortunate to be part of some of the most complex and exciting mandates in the country, be it on the investor side or occupier side, and we need to continue to engage with clients—not just the huge national clients, but the everyday person who’s becoming more sophisticated in the buying process and needs partners like us.
Above is Cushman & Wakefield's realigned national management team, unveiled last month: Michael Caplice (executive managing director/national operations leader); Stefan Teague (executive managing director/GTA market leader); and Hendrik Zessel (executive managing director/Western Canada leader). Chuck says the promotions "position our team to tap into the vast potential of the Canadian market."
Bisnow: Can you walk through the backstory to your being named CEO?
Chuck: I came to Cushman in 2008 when the company acquired Gordian Group, a boutique but national real estate management and consulting firm where I was president. The entire team came over here and formed part of the corporate services platform, which was starting to gather steam. I was actually a little nervous about going into a big firm when I had always been in an entrepreneurial environment and called the shots as president. I wondered if we might get lost being part of this big machine. But that went away in five seconds when I got here, because the culture at Cushman is positive and they ensured we fit right in.
From 2008 onward I played different roles in the corporate services organization, and most recently I was the president of occupier services (corporate services, tenant representation brokerage) and it was an amazing ride to lead that group and be part of winning some of the biggest corporate account mandates, tenant rep mandates and agency leasing mandates in the country over the last few years.
When we had the merger (with DTZ), the global leaders determined they wanted to go in a new direction with Canada. So I’ve been playing the interim CEO role since the merger, in addition to running the occupier business, which gave me a chance to really dip my foot in the pool and understand what it’s all about. I think the global leadership did a real good thing by going out to the market and engaging in a search for the right leader; that showed an enormous amount of respect to the Canadian organization, to be thoughtful about who should lead it. And they picked me, and I’m really excited about it.
Pictured is 1755 Argentia Rd, part of Magna International’s 70M SF global portfolio, which Cushman & Wakefield manages. The firm also has a partnership with Rogers to manage its real estate.
Bisnow: What’s your market outlook for 2016?
Chuck: In Canada, it’s an Alberta story and an everyone else story. We face low commodity and oil prices, and it’s driving our dollar down and keeping interest rates down. It’s an economic environment I don’t believe is going to change anytime soon, so we just have to deal with it and the pressure it’s putting on real estate. The low dollar is enabling investors outside Canada to find good opportunities here, and that’s going to keep going. Alberta will come back—it always will. It was one of the strongest markets in the country at one point and it can get out of trouble as quickly as it got into trouble.
We get slammed a lot by negative news, but when you peel it back, the fundamentals for real estate markets across the country are strong. There’s growth, it’s just not as heavy, and there’s still new product coming on the market and people launching exciting projects. And I believe that for firms like us to be successful, we’ve got to deal with the reality of the economic and real estate situation and be out in front of it to help our clients take advantage of the market conditions. The firms that win are the ones who will be creative and have robust platforms to assist their clients in making decisions in times that are a bit uncertain.
What You Should Know About Chuck Scott
Here's Chuck with his Cushman-toque-clad family: Wife, Joy, and daughters, Ashleigh and Jessica.
Native Maritimer: I was born in St. John, NB, but spent the majority of my time in Toronto. I grew up in Toronto, got married here, and both my kids were born here. But the East Coast is in my blood. I still say it’s the best part of the country.
Long-term lovebird: I went to University of Western Ontario and majored in economics. I met my wife there. We’ve been married 21 years, engaged for one, and dating for four—so together 26 years. I actually planned her 19th birthday party.
401 warrior: We live in Montreal, but I’m in Toronto Monday to Friday, so I have a condo here. Our life has always been and will always be in Toronto, but my oldest daughter is graduating from high school this year in Quebec, and my youngest has two more years left, so my family will stay there and I’ll keep doing my Monday-to-Friday thing here.
Nice guy: The best advice I ever got has to be from my mom, a poster Maritimer: “Be the nicest person you know, everything else will take care of itself.”