Principal, Managing Director, Investments
Meet Amy Erixon
What is your role at Avison Young?
I lead the Global Investment Management business. Investment Management involves acquiring and managing portfolios of real estate assets on behalf of pensions, insurance companies and family offices to achieve their financial objectives such as steady income, capital growth and diversification. This is a highly strategic business that can feed business to other parts of our business. We design and market fund products, in addition to supporting direct separate account mandates.
How did you get into commercial real estate?
I decided I wanted to be a real estate developer at the age of 5. Being a female, people laughed. Guidance counsellors and teachers tried to steer me into medicine because I was strong in math and sciences, and I strongly considered it. However, at MIT, where I completed my undergraduate and master’s degrees, I was able to design my own interdisciplinary study in Urban Planning, Architecture, Civil Engineering, Construction Management and Business to ensure I had the interdisciplinary skills to pursue my dream, and I found I didn’t have the patience to complete the lab work necessary for advanced degrees in Chemistry or Biology. The next step was finding someone to hire me in an industry with no female executives in the middle of a very serious recession. After sending out hundreds of resumes around the country, I got hired by Prudential Insurance in Boston, and the boss never told the corporate office that he hired a woman. I would have to say that it has often not been easy being a gender pioneer in our industry, but I was blessed with a string of bosses willing to take a chance on a female hire. The rest was up to me.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My mother became terminally ill with cancer when I was 12. As the eldest child, I learned valuable lessons in self-reliance and leadership, and that if I worked hard enough, I could succeed at whatever I set my mind to. My mother insisted that I leave for MIT (another life-long dream) despite the fact I would never see her again. She passed during mid-term week of my first term. She is my role model for soldiering through when times get tough.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
Be persistent about getting raises. To get paid your worth, you must ask (I never did).
How has Avison Young supported you as a woman in business?
In my experience women find collaboration and civility in the workplace generally in short supply, so I cherish it daily. Perhaps the most important of many gifts is being permitted to exercise my profession as a lady and not being expected to out “man” the guys.
What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace? 1. I’m often heard saying, “don’t worry about your shoes, they are hiring you for your brains”. 2. Have confidence in what you know, and always keep learning. 3. The best way to deal with someone who is angry or shouting is to stand up. Making yourself larger works for you and against the other guy. 4. Be yourself and do your best.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I hate public speaking. I do it to show people that women deserve a voice in the “C” suite. The first time I was laid off, I got a pilot’s license, and started an airport management business. The second time I became a licensed yoga instructor and took time to deal with badly neglected family matters. Hobbies keep us sane and pick us up when we are down.