Old ways won't open new doors

Developing Leader Spotlight: A Catalyst for Positive Change

“The spaces we occupy profoundly influence our lives, and it is my goal to shape those spaces in a way that enhances the well-being, productivity and creativity of individuals and businesses alike,” said Jace Jonsson, a recipient of the 2023 Developing Leaders Award. Jonsson said that his commercial real estate career has always been driven by the desire to be “a catalyst for positive change” within the commercial real estate industry and the broader community of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

Jace Jonsson

Jonsson is an experienced senior leasing manager with Oxford Properties who oversees a portfolio of 1.5 million square feet of primarily office assets on behalf of institutional and private ownership groups in the Calgary market. He has a proven track record of more than 360 successfully negotiated lease transactions totaling more than 1.9 million square feet in one of the most turbulent markets and asset classes. Jonsson is a skilled listing broker and landlord, having worked on 57 different assets ranging from new mixed-use developments to heritage retail and traditional office towers.

He previously worked as a senior leasing manager at Triovest Realty Advisors, Inc., where he managed the office and retail leasing activities for 1.24 million square feet across 20 properties, 123 tenants and 51 vacant units. He completed 111 transactions focused primarily on downtown office leasing. Prior to Triovest Realty Advisors, he worked as an office leasing associate for Barclay Street Real Estate Ltd.

Jonsson is a member of NAIOP Calgary and has been active on the chapter’s Developing Leaders committee. In addition, he mentors three students through the University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business real estate program’s mentorship program. Jonsson is a licensed real estate associate.

NAIOP asked this thoughtful and inspiring powerhouse how he develops as a leader and what advice he would give to Developing Leaders early in their careers.

NAIOP: Name a person who has had a notable impact on your career. What did they do that made a difference?

Jonsson: I’ve had many mentors throughout my career who made a meaningful impact and contributed to where I am today. My first mentor was Daniel Harmsen who was responsible for getting me into commercial real estate. Dan was the managing partner at Barclay Street Real Estate and was my business partner and mentor when I was an office leasing broker. Dan taught me how to negotiate, prospect and most importantly how to have grit and the determination to never give up. I found that I learned best through “osmosis” – by just sitting next to him in the bullpen listening to him negotiate deals. Dan was a power broker and gave me my first taste of the kind of success someone can have in CRE. Dan passed away in 2021 and he is dearly missed by all those who had the pleasure of calling him a friend.

Once I moved over to the landlord side, I was mentored by Darcy Payne with Triovest Realty Advisors. Darcy helped refine my negotiation techniques and greatly improved my paperwork and attention to detail when it came to the deal process. Darcy gave me the opportunity to lead the design, construction and leasing of over 40 office show suites; through these projects I learned how to collaborate with designers, general contractors, our construction management group as well as our partners.

Finally, in my current role at Oxford Properties I have had the pleasure of working with Ryan Sirski, who has expanded my opportunities even further by putting me in charge of one of Calgary’s most iconic properties, Bow Valley Square, where I have taken everything I’ve learned at BSRE and Triovest and put them to work on a transaction volume and deal scale that are orders of magnitude larger than anything I have worked on before. Ryan is always there to discuss deals, advise and suggest strategy, provide context, and most importantly give me the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them in a productive way. Ryan gives me the space as well as the support to succeed.

NAIOP: What is one piece of practical advice you would give to Developing Leaders who are just starting out in their careers?

Jonsson: Meet as many people as practically possible. Put yourself out there for any industry-related event. Spend time with brokers, developers, tenants and landlords. Go into every conversation with humility and the willingness to learn and expand your perspective. If you work hard and have a genuine sense of interest and humility when you start out in your professional career, you will be given the time of day. Don’t be late for anything.

NAIOP: How do you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

Jonsson: I practice intentional opportunity seeking.  I will always be the first to raise my hand to participate in a project that may be out of my current scope of work. Often, what makes us uncomfortable are opportunities that will forever set us apart from our peers. Examples of this include public speaking, delivering tours or presentations, and taking on special projects. 

NAIOP: Do you have a favorite podcast or book to recommend?

Jonsson: “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. I read this book at least once a year and I find that it really grounds me and is a rare opportunity to get inside the head of the emperor of Rome and to draw similarities and learning from the struggle we all face. “The Intelligent Investor” by Ben Graham was a pivotal book when it came to my investment philosophy and really kickstarted my interest in investing. The book I read most recently was “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig; I would certainly recommend it to anyone with interests in philosophy.

Read more about the 2023 Developing Leaders Award winners in Development magazine. Applications for the 2024 Developing Leaders Award are now open.

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Marie Ruff

Marie Ruff is Director of Marketing and Communications at NAIOP.

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