Membership Spotlight May 2022
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Membership Spotlight | Beth Breasail
Beth Breasail, VP Asset Management at GWL Realty Advisors, joins us this month as our Member Spotlight. Beth has had an impressive career in the real estate sector and in her current role is responsible for GWLRA’s commercial managed portfolio in BC, totaling over 6 million square feet across office, retail and industrial asset classes. Beth is responsible for developing and executing on asset strategies and overseeing the leasing and operations for the BC region, as well as working with the development and investment teams to grow the region’s assets. Beth is in advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion and is a member of GWLRA’s EDI Steering Committee. Beth is also a past CREW BOD director.
Beth, thank you for being our Member Spotlight! What originally drew you to join the CREW network, and further, to get involved as a volunteer/ Board Member over the years?
Vancouver CREW was founded just as I joined GWLRA. Susan MacLaurin, who was with GWLRA at the time was one of the founding members and she suggested I volunteer as a way to meet others in the industry. After a few years of volunteering (we did not have committees at the time – there were a few of us who did everything), I was able to join the Board. The exposure to and connection with successful senior women in the industry, both in Vancouver as well as at CREW events in the US was both inspiring and invaluable.
You have had a successful and impressive career in Commercial Real Estate, what originally drew you to this sector & GWLRA, and what motivates your success and drive?
First, thank you! It’s hard to believe I’m already at the point where my career could be called successful or impressive. My parents were not in the business world, and a career in real estate was not something I was exposed to when I was young. My first real estate job was with a local developer, which I fell into very much by accident. After 18 months there I saw an ad in the paper (yes, in the paper!) for a Development Analyst role at GWLRA. I’m now in year 19 at GWLRA and have had the opportunity to grow my career and responsibility alongside people I enjoy working with. Having a good team and working in a dynamic industry where there is always something new to learn makes it easy to stay motivated.
What are some trends in the commercial real estate industry right now that you are particularly excited about?
As a strong supporter of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the move to being a more inclusive industry (and society) is very important to me, and I am glad to be a member of the Steering Committee at GWLRA which is looking at how we can improve in this area. I clearly remember the first industry breakfast event I attended after joining GWLRA in 2004, and how little diversity there was in the room. It has certainly changed since then, but there is still improvement to be had.
Secondly, as the industry responsible for the development and management of commercial buildings, we have a very large impact on our planet. The move toward increased sustainability of our managed buildings and actions toward the reduction of GHGs in my mind is more than just a trend, but rather is what we as an industry have to be doing. GWLRA has made a Net Zero commitment, as have many of our clients and we are currently underway with a number of Net Zero building assessments and are reviewing our capital plans with this in mind. GWLRA is committed to sustainability and has earned a GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) 5-Star ranking for the last five years.
If you were asked to give one piece of career advice to someone entering the commercial real estate sector, what would it be and how has this guidance helped your career?
Always be willing to try something new. In my opinion, one of the best things about commercial real estate is the number of different roles. Gaining experience across a variety of roles can help you find what you are passionate about, and also helps to develop your overall skill set as a real estate professional. You can gain different experiences without moving jobs or companies by putting your hand up to take on different opportunities. In my time at GWLRA, I have worked in development, leasing and asset management and across all asset classes - industrial, retail, office and multi-family. I have also been involved in various corporate initiatives including our EDI and Employee Engagement committees. This has not only enabled me to become a well-rounded real estate professional, it has also given me exposure to individuals across my organization.
Outside of work, what are some of your hobbies/passions?
When I’m not working you will likely find me enjoying what Vancouver and the surrounding areas have to offer. My husband and I are cyclists and enjoy sailing in the summer (on our Ontario 32 that is older than both of us). Rain or shine I’m on the trails or the beach with my dogs every day. I am also a reader and read around 50 books (mainly fiction) a year.