A Chat With Cushman & Wakefield’s Top Global Producer

Robert Giglio, the real estate services firm’s top producer globally and Americas top office producer in 2017, talked about his previous careers, how the office sector has evolved and the call that changed his professional path forever.
Robert Giglio, Cushman & Wakefield
Robert Giglio, Cushman & Wakefield

While Robert Giglio has spent the last two decades of his 30-year real estate career at Cushman & Wakefield, real estate was not his first choice for a profession. He experimented with health care and the nightclub scene before landing in the brokerage area. His career decision paid off, as he was recognized this year as Cushman & Wakefield’s top producer globally and Americas top office producer in 2017 for his brokerage efforts. Last year, Giglio closed transactions totaling more than 1 million square feet for private and public-sector clients. His leasing client portfolio includes high-profile names like the City of New York, PwC, Heineken and J.P. Morgan Investments, which recently signed a 10-year lease at L&L Holding Co. and Clarion Partners’ 390 Madison Ave. in Manhattan.

Commercial Property Executive spoke with Giglio about what it takes to be a top broker, the major changes in the office sector and how Millennials are impacting the business.

How did you become interested in real estate?

Giglio: I have had a number of careers prior to real estate including being a social worker, a nightclub/restaurant entrepreneur and a salesperson for a company that supplied health-care programs to corporations. I was looking for a rewarding profession where I could be my own boss and real estate had always interested me. I first worked with a developer, which didn’t work out, and then after a few months of saving my pennies and seeking the right opportunity, good friends of mine suggested that I would be great at brokerage. They introduced me to the business and I have never looked back.

What surprised you about the industry?

Giglio: I was surprised that it wasn’t as simple as moving a tenant from one space to another. Successful brokers are very sophisticated in all aspects of not only the real estate market, but finance, logistics and the economy as a whole. When I first started as a broker, it was every man for himself. We walked through office buildings to get the lay of the land, begin cold calling and then repeat the process again and again. We didn’t have computers, cell phones or even fax machines back then.

What is most surprising about this industry is how sophisticated and technological it has become. I have gone from having a file box with index cards to a multi-screen platform of endless information and resources. To keep up, I also received my law degree to better understand contracts and real estate law.

What does it take to be a top-producing broker?

Giglio: It takes a village, and by that I mean a real estate firm like Cushman & Wakefield that supplies a vast, global platform with the support and resources a broker requires to service the needs of clients anywhere in the world. It is just as important to surround yourself with a team of brokers and administrative staff that can support and add value to your efforts in servicing these clients as well. If you are lucky, like I have been, you’ll have a team that’s smarter than you, and that is just icing on the cake.

In 2018, what is the most challenging part of being a top broker?

Giglio: The challenge is staying there. The honor of being the top broker at Cushman & Wakefield is not lost on me. Over my 20 years at the firm, I’ve always admired the quality of the brokers who have received this top honor. It’s a small group of professionals that I am pleased to join, especially during Cushman & Wakefield’s centennial year. My personal challenge is to stay at the top of my profession, just as those before me have done. In every way, the bar has been raised for me.

Tell us about a particular lease or a job-related event/anecdote that sticks out to you.

Giglio: My favorite story to tell, especially when speaking to younger brokers, is about persistence and hard work. It involves a company I had been canvassing regularly for about seven years. With each call, I held my breath because I knew the person on the other end of the line would not be happy that I continued to bother her. All the calls lasted about five seconds until the last one. On that call, I was invited to present my services, as this company had just decided to change brokers. The next 13 years were spent servicing their business globally and it changed the direction of my career forever.

Name three things that have changed in the office sector in the past decade.

Giglio: First change that comes to mind is space utilization. The amount of square feet per person in office space has been significantly reduced, as corporations have increasingly utilized hoteling, shared space, smaller work stations and offices, and a variety of other workforce solutions.

The second change is the amount of collaboration within the business. Wherever you go, including our Cushman & Wakefield offices, you see more and more collaborative areas. Glass has replaced sheet rock and the days of closed doors and silos are coming to an end.

Lastly, Millennials have had a major impact on the office sector. This generation is changing everything my generation was accustomed to, from the office environment they work in to how they dress in the office. They are such a strong force for change that companies have research and marketing divisions dedicated to exploring Millennial’s interests, behavioral patterns and buying patterns. Now, rather than demanding conformity from the Millennial generation, companies are conforming to their desires. We Baby Boomers never had this much clout so it is very exciting to see.

What role does co-working play in the office market as a whole?

Giglio: This dovetails right into the Millennial generation again. It is obvious this innovative co-working office environment cannot be ignored. It is like a giant think tank where diverse personalities can grow and run their businesses while interacting with one another in a relaxed and inspiring atmosphere. I don’t think anyone fears it will replace traditional offices, but clearly there is a void that it is filling in a big way.

Image courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield