Young Pro Says Build Your Brand
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CHICAGO-News flash: Commercial real estate is a competitive business. Not only for warring firms but also for those “teams” supposedly working the same side of the fence. Christine Choi, a vice president at the local office of Avison Young’s global supply chain practice, swears that competitiveness and camaraderie aren’t mutually exclusive.
Thirty-two-year-old Choi describes herself as a “proud Wildcat” because of her Northwestern University background. She graduated from the school in 2003 with a major in organizational change and a minor in Poly Sci.
A stint in merchandising for Target straight out of school gave way to real estate when she took a job at First Industrial, where she stayed from 2006 to 2008. “It was the boom years,” she laughs. She flipped to brokerage when she came to Avison in 2010 and currently reports to managing director Mike McKiernan.
Avison has an industrial-strength focus on nurturing talent through its Young Guns program and provides an environment to help up-and-comers over the early lean years, and “those first few years are tough,” Choi says. “They make a commitment to support the young brokers that are entering our industry and our company and help grow them.”
The firm’s principal-owned organizational structure also puts a different spin on the nature of competition, and Choi explains that collaboration is key. “It’s safe to collaborate here,” she says. “When there’s a conflict, it all comes down to what’s best for the client.”
And while any brokerage will say that, the org chart here comes into practice. “The path to principal-ship is a clear roadmap for younger brokers,” she explains. “We are all vested or want to become vested.” Embracing a collaborative attitude benefits Young Guns and their elders equally, she explains. “The shared goal is to pursue business.”
Still, a broker without a competitive edge is an empty pistol, and Choi urges young professionals to differentiate themselves and, as she says, “make yourself a value-add internally.”
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