Leaving Corporate Real Estate

Leaving Corporate Real Estate

People are often shocked that I left corporate real estate after 25 years of climbing the corporate ladder. Certainly, the timing, just 10 days before 9/11, wasn’t great, but over the years, I’ve never once regretted my decision.

It’s very interesting to hear people tell me that it’s much safer to be in a corporate job, where you make a steady paycheck. Perhaps if you work in operations for the company, and you never lose your job, this may be true. But there are only a handful of people I know who have not lost jobs over the last 10 years.

When the economy gets tight, real estate jobs are often the first to go. When cash is low, a corporation would rather pay their operations people than their real estate people. It’s simply the reality of the game.

Back in the day, I worked in wireless communications. These were my favorite real estate deals, because they involved working with the community to find something that everyone could agree on. In this job, my department got to be creative, and worked in large groups to get the zoning approved. However, every year or so, the firm I worked for would slash their build budget, and I would find myself out of work. My work experience at the time was rare, and so I’d be rehired in less than a few weeks by another carrier. While this was a blessing, it meant a lot of upheaval and a lot of limbo. Finally, after 5 different jobs in the industry, and moving across the country, I decided I wanted to try something different, which is how I ended up running Kelly’s real estate department.

Losing a corporate job often has more to do with how the company is doing financially than how you are doing, which is why, when I left Kelly all those years ago, I told everyone, there is no guarantee of keeping your job when you work for a firm. I’m not crazy! When you work as an agent, you’re in control of your future. If you make the calls, and know your business, you can make a great living—often, you can make a much higher income than would be possible in a job as the head of corporate real estate.

From my perspective, being an agent gives you the right to choose who you’re going to work with. It allows you to choose what types of projects you accept. Doing your own thing equals freedom. What is more rewarding than that? Owning your own brokerage firm—but I’ll save that thought for another day.

About the Author

Lynn Drake’s status is well known in the industry: She’s the commercial realtor focused on maintaining “true north” for her corporate clients. It’s a reputation built on 35 years of commercial real estate experience. Lynn became a commercial realtor in 2001 after 15 years in corporate real estate. Thus far in her career, Lynn has successfully completed over 1,500 real estate transactions ranging from small business tenant leases to the sale and purchase of industrial complexes.