Interview with commercial real estate account executive, Brando Usher

Brando Usher

Follow Brando on LinkedIn or learn more about WeWork.

What do you do?
I work at WeWork as an Account Executive, basically overseeing the sales in Toronto. So primarily working with small and medium size businesses, as well as some enterprises, to secure office space.

How long have you been in this field for?
In the field for four years, and with WeWork, a little over one year. Before WeWork, I was working as a landlord – so more traditional real estate – working on the leasing side and in development, as well as acquisitions. I went to Western [University] for Urban Development.

What inspired you to pursue this career?
I’ve always had a interest for it. My dad is in it – he made a late transition into the field  after working in the food industry for a long time. I saw the – let’s call it the deal-making side of the business. I was pretty keen on getting involved with that, so I decided to take it in school and get into it once I graduated.

What was the biggest hurdle in attaining your career goals?
I would definitely say getting your foot in the door with one of the landlord or development companies. Typically unless you’re a brokerage or a pension fund real estate developer or landlord, it’s tough to get in the door. Being able to secure a job at a relatively young age is pretty key. And then once you’re in the industry – the industry in Toronto, there are obviously lots of deals that get done and there are a lot of players, but it’s still relatively tight knit, so people know one another. Networking in the industry becomes a lot easier once you have a foot in the door.

With WeWork, I applied a few years before for a job at We Work in New York. I was really interested in the company and I have an American citizenship, so I thought why not test it out to see if I could land it. I didn’t get it, but kept in touch and told them to let me know when they were [expanding] to Toronto. I heard back, applied and got the job!

What do you like most about your work?
I like interacting with a lot of different companies. Usually I get to speak with business owners, whether it’s a small business starting up or medium size business looking for their next step, it’s great to be able to interact with the leaders of these businesses and learn from them and build my own network.

What’s great about WeWork is that we have an awesome team internally – our team here in Toronto and also being able to leverage everybody else we work with around the world. It feels like a family in that way. Everyone helps one another.

What do you find most challenging about your work?
We’ve had strong success in Toronto. What’s challenging is that [our workspaces] are full and that I have to tell people they can’t move in. It’s a gift and a curse, obviously. But sometimes that upsets me especially when it’s a contact of mine or a friend or a company I think will thrive in the WeWork environment and community.

It’s difficult for me, especially when I know a company is growing and needs space asap,  to give them a bridge solution until we open a new space. We’ve made it work in a few instances, but for the most part it’s unfortunate because they have to go elsewhere.

If you weren’t an account executive in commercial real estate, what would you be?
I would still be in the industry – I would be an architect. They have a direct impact on what is built in the city, which is pretty cool.

Name one hobby you have that’s not related to your work.
I play a lot of sports – hockey, basketball – trying to stay active is important. When I graduated I was spending too much time thinking about work and it was building up, so just getting out and being active three, four, five times a week is really important.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
I honestly don’t have an early morning routine! Every morning is so different – sometimes I’ll go for a run if it’s nice out, sometimes I’ll get up and rush to work, sometimes I’ll take it easy and make a real breakfast. But I am a creature of habit, so it’s weird I don’t have a morning routine.

And last thing you do at night?
As bad as it sounds, I check my emails to make sure I didn’t miss anything that day. And if I did, I respond at that time. That’s typically what I do. Sometimes I might flip through  pages of a book I’m reading, but I haven’t done that in a little while.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy your work.
I would definitely say it’s within the 8 to 9 range. It’s a really fulfilling job. For someone who likes to network and interact with people, it’s really fun.

Nothing is going to be perfect 10 out of 10 – I think it’s tough to find that. So I definitely say 8… probably 9.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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