Group Manager rises to challenges in and out of the office

Karen Mayer discusses the value of staying true to herself under pressure

February 16, 2023

What would you do if a plane crashed into your property? If you’re Karen Mayer, VP, Group Manager in Open Air Retail, you remain calm, set your priorities, call your clients and start relocating tenants to vacant spaces – all with a smile. “I truly went into fight or flight mode and looked at this situation through the lens of what’s most critical,” Karen recalls.

Throughout her 20 plus year career in Commercial Real Estate and Asset Managment, Karen has handled crisis after crisis, including floods, fires and the aforementioned plane crash. “I’ve had so many experiences and stories to share, and I’ve learned from each one of them,” she says.

Joining JLL as a former client, she’s managed office buildings, medical campuses, industrial sites and closed and open-air retail spaces. “They're all different products, but at the end of the day, they're either a vertical or horizontal asset” Karen says, while crediting her success at all these different asset types to her ability to understand the needs of her clients, tenants and adapt to an unpredictable workday.

Staying calm under pressure might be Karen’s superpower, be it at work or while chasing her personal endeavors.

One personal pressure-cooker of an event was the time Karen competed on The Big Holiday Food Fight on OWN TV. In the episode, The family that cooks together, Karen competed against her family members. Even when the show’s production encouraged her to create tension and drama in her on-screen interviews, she stayed true to herself. “We couldn't do it,” she said. “It just wasn’t us and we have to be our real selves.”

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“Cooking has always brought my family together. The recipes we use have been handed down from my grandparents to my parents and now to us. It’s all about creating memories and spending time together, along with some healthy competition,” she said. Ultimately, she beat her niece to become the winner.

Like her recipes, helping others overcome their own challenges is food for Karen’s soul, whether it’s her team at JLL or the Southern California community where she was born, raised and still lives today. Karen sits on the board of two national organizations, where in addition to hosting fundraisers, she looks for ways to truly make a lasting impact on someone’s life. She was awarded a grant that she used to purchase computers for a woman’s shelter so the women there could learn skills that would lead to future employment.

In every aspect of her life, Karen fosters positivity – something she says helps advance inclusivity at JLL. She prides herself on being helpful, transparent and even a little goofy both in and out of the office. “Being self-aware of my strengths and weaknesses and being my real self to everyone helps show that it's okay to be you, and we'll all be included and invited to play in the sandbox,” Karen says.

Karen recognizes the opportunities available to her at JLL and knows that her willingness to help others will in turn help her continue her bright path forward. “I’ve always said that I’m willing to help in any way and have asked to be involved, whether it be on a task force or national committee,” Karen says. “I just believe in myself, and good things have happened.”

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