Power Women: Jennifer Podmore Russell
Deloitte Real Estate director Jennifer Podmore Russell has had no shortage of mentors. A 15-year career, including stints at Colliers and her own consultancy company (plus a dad in the industry), will do that.
Leading Deloitte’s Real Estate Advisory Practice, Jennifer creates real estate strategies and governance structures in tandem with clients in office, retail, industrial, residential, cultural, leisure, and hospitality sectors. (We'd say kitchen sinks, but it sort of falls under residential.) When Bisnow starts asking her questions about industry trends, the answers come easy. It’s when we shift gears and talk about family and mentors—that’s when things take some thought.
Mentoring started with dad David Podmore, who's CEO of Vancouver’s Concert Properties (above, he's seen helping out when Concert partnered with Union Gospel Mission to host its annual summer BBQ in the Downtown Eastside). Education on the biz was more through osmosis, she says; think dinner table talks and driving past properties. Integrity—doing a deal on a handshake—was the main thing she picked up from her father.
Then there’s Collier’s vice chairman Kelly Heed, who taught her the value of work ethic—being the first in the office in the morning—and networking. “If you showed interest in learning, then he would invest the time with you,” she says. Lisa Vogt, a partner at McCarthy Tetrault, is another, she says, teaching her the value of balancing work with other interests. And Jennifer’s interests are aplenty. First and foremost is being a mom to her 1-year-old daughter Gray and a wife to husband Scott. The family spends most weekends at their cabin on Bowen Island. They’ll resume their skiing interests when Gray is old enough. “We are not the most glamourous people,” she admits.
Balance for Jennifer—work, family, friends, community, her team—is a work in progress, she admits. She's learned the hard way not to micromanage, giving up the dream of being a "perfect Mom" and instead, "being the Mom my daughter needs.” She's on the board of NAIOP Vancouver, as well as Atira, a non-profit dedicated to ending violence against women. She is co-chair of the BC Professional Firefighters Burn Fund, helping with a capital campaign. “You always have to give back, that’s what my parents taught me,” she says. “Charity work satisfies a different part of my brain."
In commercial real estate, the Lower Mainland's changing face of retail—especially e-commerce strategies and how that relates to bricks-and-mortar—is one of the larger trends, she says. Deloitte clients nationwide are seeking counsel as the ground shifts beneath them, particularly with the arrival of European and US retailers. In the image is the new Nordstrom at 725 Granville.