I’m meeting with Jamie Covello at her stylish midtown Manhattan office. I’m eager to discuss her journey into the top ranks of the commercial real estate industry.
Jamie joined Avison Young in 2017. She has built a reputation for excellence and integrity and is nationally recognized as a leader in the real estate industry. Most recently Executive Director, Cushman & Wakefield, she has 30+ years of extensive experience and expertise, working with local, national and global corporate clients.
Jamie Covello wasn’t always a real estate star. She started as a canvasser at a small brokerage firm at a time when there were few women in the business. Apropos for the time, she was expected to cover for the receptionist at lunch too, answering phones and typing. Fortuitously, her dyslexia and inability to type nixed that, giving her the opportunity to fully focus on real estate.
During this time period, Jimmy Peters, one of the great legends in the industry, spoke in front of “The Young Men’s Real Estate Association,” and memorably stated: “Women belong in the kitchen or the bedroom — wherever they do the better work.” Ironically, she became a member of this association (later renamed “The Young Men’s/Young Women’s Real Estate Association”), and even later, Jimmy Peters became one of her biggest advocates, recruiting her to work for his firm.
In those early years, Jamie was extremely motivated to prove the doubters wrong. She applied herself, figuring out the financial analysis longhand, and shamelessly asking a lot of questions of other brokers, and especially of attorneys. Jamie pauses and reflects: “I think because I asked a lot of questions then, I became that much more competent in a shorter period of time.”
Determined to succeed on her own terms, and to overcome any lingering doubts about her competence, she also enrolled in night classes at NYU and then Columbia.
In her twenties, Jamie was recruited to Cushman & Wakefield, the top firm in the industry at the time. Until then, she was a “scrappy broker trying to make it”. At Cushman & Wakefield, she had a full complement of resources. She exclaims: “I was in broker heaven! It was amazing! I had so much information at my fingertips — I could be that much better!”
She learned how to negotiate with some of the toughest, meanest negotiators in the city, and to strongly advocate for her clients (and for herself).
Meanwhile, Jamie married and had two children. She found the experience of having and raising children inspired and grounded her, which gave her renewed confidence and perspective.
Throughout her journey, there had been times where she found herself on the fence between fear and courage, wondering: “Am I going to fall back to fear or jump off forward to courage? Jamie embraced courage, saying: “Life is defined by the choices you make — so better make the right ones.”
She moved into corporate work at Cushman & Wakefield, built her own team, and was honored to be invited to join the Chairman’s team. From there, she learned how to do business nationally on a more strategic level.
In the right place at the right time, Jamie was in a position to do what she does well — find solutions, add value and help companies create a real estate and occupancy plan which support the future goals of their organization.
Clearly, she made the right choice.