This episode was recorded at the Toronto Real Estate Forum with the co-chair of the forum, Gary Whitelaw. When he’s not podcasting or speaking at forums, Gary is the CEO of BentallGreenOak, the company formed from the merger of Bentall Kennedy and GreenOak Real Estate in 2018.
Gary goes in-depth on why the two companies decided to merge, also highlighting Sun Life’s current involvement with the company. He talks about the challenges of investing in opportunistic real estate and how he is building a great organizational culture at BentallGreenOak.
Topics covered include:
- Growing pains from safe real estate to opportunistic real estate.
- How Bentall Kennedy and GreenOak Estate came to merge.
- The relationship between BentallGreenOak and Sun Life.
- The company’s current portfolio and why the two merged companies are a good fit.
- Areas of the market that BentallGreenOak sees opportunity.
- Dealing with frustrating aspects of the Canadian market.
- Some big projects that BentallGreenOak has in the pipeline.
- Creating a positive company culture.
- Empowering employees to come up with better ways to do things.
- The growing importance of ESG conformity.
- An office building in Salt Lake City that was leased thanks to ESG.
- How BentallGreenOak manages its partners.
This episode of Commercial Real Estate Podcast powered by First National was recorded live at the Toronto Real Estate Forum as part of our Forum Series.
For more commercial real estate content, visit the First National Commercial Resource Centre.
More about our guest:
Gary Whitelaw has been the Chief Executive Officer of BentallGreenOak and its predecessor entities since 1998. He has led the company through significant growth, geographic expansion, product diversification, and consistently strong financial performance over this period. In his capacity as Chief Executive Officer, Gary has championed sustainable investing and guided the company to achieving top ranking industry-wide in global ESG benchmarking for over a decade.
Gary sits on all of the firm’s internal boards. Together with his executive colleagues, he is responsible for strategy, financial and operating performance, fiduciary and investment performance, and the development of human capital across the firm’s global subsidiaries. He also represents the firm on Sun Life Capital Management’s executive team.
Prior to joining BentallGreenOak’s predecessor firm in 1998, Gary held a series of progressively senior executive positions in public and private real estate operating and investment firms. At the outset of his career, Gary practiced for several years as a professional architect, working on projects across North America and in the Middle East.
Gary previously served as a director at Welltower from 2017 to 2019, where he chaired the Investment Committee and sat on the board’s Executive, Nominating, and Governance committees. He is a past director of Delta Hotels and SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts, where he sat on the Investment and Human Resources committees for both firms. He is a past director of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers and a past chair of REALPAC. He has been an active member of the Canadian Business Council since 2005 and has been a frequent speaker in the United States and Canada.
Gary holds degrees in science and architecture from McGill University and an MBA from Harvard University.