This isn’t Mark E. Rose’s first appearance in this sec- tion. A year ago, he was among the 26 company chiefs profiled in Real Estate Forum’s inaugural Leadership Issue. This year, he tops the rankings.
What put him there? For one thing, an outpouring of popular
support from Avison Young team members and colleagues at
all levels—all of whom have first-hand impressions to draw
upon as evidence. Equally as important, there’s the strategy
that Rose developed when he came aboard as CEO in 2008,
and which he carries forward both by expanding on strategy
and leading by example.
The “differentiated company” that Rose had
in mind when he joined Avison Young is princi-pal-led and collaborative. Avison Young’s principals, across what is now 80 offices in North
America and Europe, own and operate the company, and the firm’s collaborative culture knocks
down silos between service lines, thereby allowing for the delivery of integrated solutions under
the direction of senior principals. This culture of
collaboration is reinforced by Rose on Avison
Young’s weekly managing directors’ calls, on
quarterly Town Hall conference calls for all 2,400
employees in six countries, at the firm’s annual
general meeting and on a daily basis with clients.
To reinforce its collaborative culture, Avison
Young is committed to a low level of corporate
infrastructure. The secret sauce is Avison
Young’s Affinity Group structure, which Rose
developed to drive the firm’s service model and
industry-facing activities. Now numbering 19,
the groups replace internal P&L business units with self-man-aged teams aligned via the partnership model and culture. Led
by collaborative principals across the company, the groups co-ordinate pursuits of clients; develop standards and best practices; share research, market knowledge and training; develop
client tools; organize client/industry events; and screen potential key hires.
For example, Avison Young addresses the multi-market corporate client segment via its Enterprise Solutions affinity group,
which includes 160 principals across the globe. Rose is also the
founder of the Young Guns affinity group and a key supporter of
Avison Young’s Diversity and Inclusion affinity group, which
includes the Women’s Network, and he speaks at all events.
Another aspect of Rose’s vision that drives Avison Young’s
strategy is innovation and the need for technology-enabled
change in the commercial real estate industry. One manifestation of that vision is the company’s CRM system, APTO, which
fuels collaboration and provides a robust database for client
insights. More than 1,300 Avison Young users access APTO to
increase collaboration among all of the firm’s business lines.
Rose’s strategy for creating a differentiated company has also
led to growth metrics that stand apart. Revenues increased 12
times between 2008 and 2016, for a compounded annual growth
rate of 43%. The firm’s employee base has grown from 298 when
Rose joined to 2,400 today, while the number of
offices has increase sevenfold from what was originally 11. The firm has expanded from Canada,
where two regional firms joined forced in 1996, to
the US, the UK, Germany, Romania and Mexico.
Over the past eight years, Avison Young has
attracted 345 senior professionals and completed
more than 30 acquisitions.
Forum pored over hundreds of comments
from Avison Young team members, and key
themes were sounded over and over: Rose’s
visionary qualities, his committed leadership and,
above all, his humanity. One member of the
C-suite shared, “I’m 30-plus years into my career,
and hands-down, this is the best CEO I’ve ever
worked with. He is a visionary, but unlike most
gregarious CEOs, has strong insights into peo-
ple, their motivations, and knows how to elicit
the best of each team member.”
Another team member stated, “Mark is the
most involved CEO I have ever had the pleasure to work with.
He cares about our company but most of all he cares about us,
individually, taking the time to make sure we’re all happy and
healthy. He pushes us to be better humans in every aspect of our
lives and get to know all of us, whether we are principals or staff.
Having worked for other top CRE firms, I can truly say that there
is no better CEO. When other top CRE CEOs come to him for
advice, you know you have someone special.
Grant Linderman, VP of capital markets, sums it up: “While
Mark Rose possesses all the aforementioned attributes of an
ideal charismatic, empathetic, enthusiastic and driven CEO, his
most surprising quality to me after joining the company was his
extreme approachability. He is truly an inspiring leader.”
wants to make
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Mark E. Rose
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