JLL Specialty Leasing Lead helps small businesses succeed

JLL Specialty Leasing Lead, Cat Loy, helps small businesses succeed.

Find out how Cat Loy makes a positive impact through specialty leasing

March 18, 2022

Cat Loy sees opportunities all around her. The key, she says, is to take charge and make them happen. The forward-thinking mindset moved her across the globe, helped her change careers, and today, helps her drive value as SVP, Speciality Leasing Property Management for JLL. 

“People say it takes a unique personality to want to work in specialty leasing. I find it very rewarding,” said Cat. 

Specialty leasing means working first-hand with many small businesses, down to the kiosks and carts in retail centers. It brings value to retail properties through merchandise variety, creating seasonal experiences, and increasing revenue streams. National brands rely on specialty leasing for pop-up stores or testing their platforms. 

“I favor the underdog. What others say is ‘not as valuable’ is of great value to me. As an immigrant, sometimes I feel I may not have someone’s endorsement right away, so I work hard to prove myself. I connect with that.”

The hard-working entrepreneurs and retailers she works with each day are ambitious, persistent, and forward-thinking. She connects with those entrepreneurs because they’re not afraid to take risks–just like her. 

Cat’s professional journey began in Singapore, where she lived with her 3rd-generation Chinese immigrant family. She’d earned an accounting degree and landed a job working for a Japanese firm. Two years in, she was crunching numbers at her desk when she realized it was not what she wanted to do day after day.

She wanted something more challenging and creative. A role where she engaged with people and solved problems. In college, she worked for Takashimaya Singapore, a well-known Japanese department store brand helping with positioning products. She thought, “Why not try marketing?

Cat shared her desire to go to the United States to pursue a marketing and communications degree. Her parents gave their blessing for Cat to pursue her interests and take her biggest risk yet. 

Cat moved to the American Midwest to pursue her second degree. She fell in love with that part of the country and decided to stay after graduation. She initially took a job as a trade show coordinator, but the extensive travel left her burnt out after a year. 

While looking for another opportunity, a marketing director job became available at a local shopping center. Cat always liked retail and had worked as a project associate once back in Singapore. She thought, why not?

It turned out to be a good move because Cat fell in love with what she was doing and she was good at it. Her ability to drive advertising and sponsorship revenue led her asset manager to replicate her success across more properties. She traveled to Minneapolis, Hawaii, and back to Chicago, always finding ways to grow specialty leasing wherever she landed.

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For Cat, specialty leasing is about incubating local businesses and providing fun concepts for consumers.

“Witnessing the success and growth of small entrepreneurs is very rewarding,” Cat said. “Look at how Whole Foods and Yankee Candle started. They all started as local entrepreneurs with that one store. I remember the day I canvassed Forever 21. It was still a temp tenant on a specialty leasing program at a regional mall.”

“I know any decision we make will impact a family’s livelihood. That’s why we work hard every day to drive revenue for our clients and the tenants.”

JLL entered the picture when it took over the management of her former company. At that time, the specialty leasing position was open. Cat saw an opportunity to leverage JLL’s network to build the specialty leasing team and drive value for retail clients. 

Since joining JLL a little over a year ago, she has met with teams outside of retail. Cat has enjoyed learning about these business lines and the potential to bring her expertise to new areas. Meeting with teams in office and industrial pushes her to be creative and source new opportunities for speciality leasing.

Retail is ever-evolving, and that constant push to be cutting-edge and drive value is what Cat enjoys about her work. 

“Having worked in accounting, property management, operations, leasing, and specialty leasing – I find specialty leasing to be my happiest place,” said Cat. “It is the most flexible and creative. We work with many local entrepreneurs and small businesses to create opportunities for all.”  

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