Leading in Tough Times: Jim Gillespie, EVP, BWE

Throughout the month of August, Connect CRE is running a series titled “Leading in Tough Times.” We’ve asked leaders around the U.S. and across the commercial real estate spectrum to share their wisdom and discuss lessons learned. In this installment, you’ll hear from Jim Gillespie, EVP, BWE.

Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about leading in a challenging environment? 

A: The most important lesson I’ve learned is that change is inevitable – and that change presents opportunity. But change can be scary, so when faced with challenging times (and perhaps always), I believe it is very important to be transparent with your team.  A lot of younger professionals have not been through an economic and market disruption like the one we are experiencing now. Team members will look to you for guidance and stability – as a leader, you have to be the one to provide it. 

Q: What leadership advice would you like to give your younger self? 

A: To be true to yourself, you have to follow your passions, and you can’t let fear of the unknown inhibit the direction you want your career to take. If I could go back in time and offer some sound advice to a younger me, I would tell him that sometimes, you just need to take the appropriate first (and second) step, and that he would be surprised by the opportunities that this would open for him. 

Q: What’s the best decision you’ve ever made as a business leader?

A: The best decision I’ve made as a business leader is to mentor and remain committed to my younger employees. Guidance from my mentors was both critical and welcome as I began working in the commercial real estate industry, and I do my best to impart the knowledge I’ve built over my career onto my younger teammates so they can continue to grow in their roles. In my view, one of the key jobs of any good business leader should be preparing and supporting the next generation of leadership.

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