Career Spotlight is our monthly feature where we interview someone in the Calgary community about their line of work. This month’s spotlight features a Commercial Real-Estate Broker and Entrepreneur – Michael Kehoe
FAIRFIELD COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE INC.
Q: How did you become Commercial Real-Estate Broker?
My education was in business with an advertising and marketing major. After working in the advertising field for three years I started out in commercial real estate as a marketing director of shopping centres, and then a mall manager and then into retail leasing. I became a retail real estate broker when I left corporate life 28 years ago.
I wanted to be independent, to control my own destiny and have the freedom to create my personal and company brand. I founded Fairfield Commercial Real-Estate in 1991 and have been an entrepreneur ever since.
Q: What do you like/dislike about your career?
I love this business, it’s changing every day. I’ve worked with great people over the years.
“Being self-employed, I can pick who I work with on a know, like and trust basis.”
I can also pick my clients, most of my business comes from referrals. I like working with entrepreneurs who have a story to tell and love to help retail and food service brands expand to become successful.
I dislike how governments get in the way. Raising property taxes, red tape, and bureaucracy are constant struggles in my world. I counsel and coach retailers and restaurants on syncing their real estate needs with their business plans.
Q: Can you describe a typical day?
I rise at the crack of dawn! I swim three mornings a week and I’m at my office by 7:00 or 7:30am. I’m very productive in the morning with my paperwork and calls.
In the afternoon, I’m typically out at meetings with entrepreneurs, industry colleagues and with clients. I check out the retail landscape regularly. I’m a huge fan of live music, so I enjoy catching a band two to three nights a week.
Q: Would you recommend entrepreneurship to someone starting out or switching careers?
Yes, commercial real-estate is a great field to work in. There are so many components to it: leasing, marketing, appraisal, building operators, property management etc. There’s demand for people with various skillsets. For example, building operators are in high demand (you can get accredited to be one, and you’ll always be employed). I’d highly recommend commercial real-estate!
I meet with and mentor students regularly; I advise them on how to break in. Anyone can work in the field, provided you’re licensed and accredited with the Real Estate Council in your Canadian province. There are all kinds of courses that lead to professional accreditation beyond this (e.g., leasing, shopping centre management).
In the last 18-24 months in the Calgary market, I’ve seen people come in with transferable skills and many upskill into the relevant discipline in commercial real-estate. On a global basis and across the country, commercial real-estate will continue to be a great career option to consider.
Q: What training/education would you recommend?
University of Calgary and University of Alberta both have real-estate faculties and schools. You can take these programs as either continuing education, or as a full-time student. The Real Estate Council of Alberta is a necessary base as part of a tool kit and knowledge. For programs in each Province/Territory, check out the real-estate councils in each area for more information.
Q: What’s your favourite part about your career?
I like running my own business – I love the marketing piece. I like managing my brand from a promotional standpoint. Social media and the visual perspective are fun elements. I’m proud of the profile of my firm Fairfield Commercial Real-Estate Inc. And I love controlling my own destiny!
Interview by Dr. Laura Hambley
Registered Psychologist and Founder of Calgary Career Counselling and Canada Career Counselling