Member Spotlight - Gabby Lacombe
Monday, Oct 3, 2022
Gabby Lacombe is a Leasing Manager at Aspen Properties, a privately-held, boutique real estate company that owns and manages commercial office space in downtown Calgary and Edmonton. Aspen owns and manages approximately 4.3 million square feet of office space in Calgary and Edmonton comprised of 15 buildings – eleven in Calgary, three in Edmonton and development sites in each city. Gabby is a new CREW Calgary member this year and we are so excited to get to know her better – welcome to CREW, Gabby!
As a new member, what drew you to join the CREW network? If you've attended any CREW events in the past, which ones did you enjoy most or which ones are you most looking forward to attending this year?
I work in a male dominated industry and one of the main reasons I joined CREW was to meet and acknowledge what the women in our industry are doing. I noticed when I came to Aspen, I was attending broker trips and going to golf events, and I was usually one of the very few women in attendance. We’re starting to see that growth and see more women putting themselves out there, but I saw an opportunity to be more involved with CREW and that was important to me.
I love to golf, so I’ve played in the CREW golf tournament before but joined the CREW Mini 5 program this year as well. I meet a lot of women who like to golf and want to practice but are hesitant to get out there since they don’t think they are good enough. I’m really trying to get more women out to the golf course so the Mini 5 was a fun way to do that with CREW.
Can you tell us more about your role as a leasing manager and what it’s like to work for Aspen? Is there a project/asset you've worked on that sticks out as your favourite one to date?
I’m from Edmonton originally so I actually started with Aspen about six years ago in Edmonton as a receptionist on a six-month contract. Aspen really loves to grow with their people and promote from within, so here I am now as a leasing manager in Calgary! We have such a creative team so it’s a lot of fun. We’re also lucky to be able to work with great partners. We run very lean so you’re always part of something at Aspen. Although I’m in leasing, I’m included in a variety of conversations and projects whether it be acquisitions or construction.
One of my biggest projects right now is The Ampersand and that’s a really great example of showing who we are and what we do. We come into something and ask ourselves “how do we stand out, how can we be different, how do we do something here that no one in Calgary has seen before?”. Planning and brainstorming these ideas is a really cool process to be part of. The people around us enable us to be creative and entrepreneurial and so we can envision all types of ideas like indoor food trucks and a golf simulator in an office building. We’ll try and think of the craziest idea possible and then see how we can make a version of that idea into a reality. We can make mistakes, learn from them, and then we still get to see something really cool through to the end when it comes to life. The construction at The Ampersand actually started right as the pandemic hit, but thanks to our partners, we were able to continue on and move forward with this project. As it was coming to an end, we had the construction complete and the timing was perfect – people are looking for cool, unique office space and we have it.
What originally drew you to the landlord sector in CRE?
The main draw to the industry and to Aspen was the people. I knew nothing about commercial real estate when I started so growing up it was never my goal in life. It was completely the company and its people that drew me into staying and pursuing a career further. The #1 thing for me within Aspen was the growth – I started in reception, then property management and then moved into leasing. Growth opportunities have always been really important to me, and Aspen is really open to that. There’s always opportunity and they’re always willing to have those conversations to explore how you can continue to expand your role and responsibilities.
In terms of real estate, it’s a lot of the things I’ve spoken about already that relate to my day-to-day job. Being part of such a creative team, we’re always doing something new and trying to be better. We’re Alberta-based and we believe in our community both in Edmonton and Calgary. This is what we live and breathe so we want to make a difference in both cities.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies/passions and how do you maintain a good work-life balance to be able to enjoy them?
I like to stay active and one of the things I really like about Calgary is the proximity to the mountains, so we try to take advantage of that often. Whether it’s hiking, paddleboarding, or just going for a visit, we try to get out to the mountains every couple of weeks. I love to golf, so I especially love the summers in the mountains. In terms of work-life balance, I love what I do. I believe in a balance, but I also enjoy what I do at Aspen every day and I’m committed to giving it my all.
Do you have any book or podcast recommendations that you'd like to share with CREW members?
As part of a recent management retreat, I read “Am I Being Too Subtle? Straight Talk From a Business Rebel” by Sam Zell. He’s a huge real estate mogul from the US and it was really interesting. He’s been around since the 70s in this industry but he’s the kind of guy who never wears a suit, never takes himself too seriously, he just goes out and does what he does really well. It was a great, easy read so I would definitely recommend – especially for anyone in commercial real estate.