Project Management

Kirsten M. Beck, Avison Young

Kirsten M. Beck

Editors’ Note

Prior to joining Avison Young, Kirsten Beck was employed with The Walsh Company and managed many high-profile and complex commercial interiors projects, as well as lab spaces and restaurants. She has a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Company Brief

Avison Young (avisonyoung.com) is a leading commercial real estate services firm, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, that provides investment sales, leasing, advisory, management, financing and mortgage placement services to owners and occupiers of office, retail, industrial, multi-family and hospitality properties.

Would you provide an overview of your role at Avison Young and your key areas of focus?

As Vice-President of Project Management for the New York office of Avison Young, I am responsible for growth and management of the project management business and the oversight of all projects in the New York area (including the five boroughs, Long Island and Connecticut). My primary responsibilities are business development, recruitment, training and broker relations.

What has made Avison Young such a leader in project management?

We have evolved into a leader in project management because of our culture. We are an extension of our clients and we are responsible for properly representing them. To achieve that, we manage projects in a very collaborative way. The entire team has the same objective – to deliver a product to meet client expectations. When you manage the team in this way, you build a reputation that is not only attractive to clients, but to other professionals in the industry. Our integrated approach delivers business improvements and efficiencies that maximize value and help to transform our clients’ visions into reality.

Would you highlight Avison Young’s presence in New York City and the growth of the business in the market?

Avison Young’s expanding presence around the globe included the opening of our New York office in late 2012 in conjunction with the acquisition of The Walsh Company, which added project management services to the firm. With the recruiting of Arthur Mirante to lead the Tri-State and Mitti Liebersohn to lead operations in New York, Avison Young has exclusively selected best-in-class advisors to provide comprehensive consulting and real estate services to leading corporations throughout the Tri-State area. Over the past five years, Avison Young has become a key player in the New York market by completing more than 2.1 million square feet (msf) of office leasing transactions and is the leasing agent for 3.2 msf of office space in Manhattan. In addition, we manage more than 1.3 msf of projects annually and have an ever-growing roster of high-profile project management clients.

What advice do you give to young people interested in a career in project management?

This is the best job in the business, but also the most challenging. You have to manage a lot of different personalities and balance everyone’s expectations. Your number one job is to set realistic expectations and then communicate, communicate, communicate. To be truly effective, you need to be able to listen to your clients and fully understand not just what they want but how to realistically deliver it to them. Listening and presenting all options to clients to steer them in the right direction while keeping their overall big picture in mind is the key to success. If you’re organized, can multi-task and you like to be challenged, this is a great career choice.

Are there strong opportunities for women to grow and lead in project management?

Project management is ideal for women with the right skill set. Many women come into project management from architecture and design, engineering, furniture, construction and facility management. If one has knowledge of the process from any of those perspectives along with strong organizational and communication skills, project management is a career path with infinite possibilities.