Helper to Senior
Director, Karen Raquet’s retail
roots run deep
Property Management lead has
held many roles during long-time
There isn’t much Karen Raquet hasn’t done in the retail business – from working as a seasonal mall job as Santa’s helper in her teens to now leading the firm’s Retail Property Management business. Her retail roots run deep in her 45-year retail career. This year, she received JLL’s highest honor, the Champions of Excellence award.
Born in Uruguay, South America she was the youngest daughter in her family. She spent her early childhood running through massive spools of yarn that would be turned into bolts of vibrant fabrics in the textile mill her dad owned and managed. Her family eventually moved back to the United States, and she spent her teen years doing odd jobs, including working in the management office of Plymouth Meeting Mall in Philly, where her mom was the marketing manager.
In 1979 at the age of 21, Karen started working full time for The Rouse Company, the same company that owned Plymouth Meeting Mall. Her first post was at Outlet Square in New Jersey and three years later in 1981, she became the first female Assistant General Manager for Rouse and opened Burlington Center.
“I never really thought how monumental it was that I was the first woman in this man’s world because I had always run with the boys. I would roll up my sleeves and run a scrubber or a gang mower when I was an Assistant GM. I’ve always done whatever it takes to get the job done – and because of that, I have always been treated like an equal,” she said.
Two years later, Karen was transferred to the largest mall in the Tri-State area at the time, Cherry Hill Mall. She stayed there until 1988, when she took three years off to raise her two children. That’s when she got a call in 1991 from her mentor Gary Woodward about an opportunity to manage Ocean One Mall in Atlantic City – a mall 50 miles away, but a quick drive.
This would begin her career at what became JLL a couple decades later.
In her time with the firm, Karen has worn a lot of hats –from being a Regional Manager, to Business Development Lead, to co-leading our once mall-only Property Management business and then evolving it to include open-air properties. Acquiring GGP’s third-party management business in 2010 and then adding regional power-house Shelter Bay to the team in 2014. She’s stepped up to take on new roles and stepped back when she needed to.
Now as the Property Management lead for the retail mall portfolio, Karen provides support for the business, ensuring the Retail service delivery is at an optimum level. With the addition of the Starwood Partners portfolio of properties, the team provides PM support for 65 malls totaling 45 million square feet.
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She shared that leading the business development efforts to expand retail property management in Latin America was one of her most exciting career moments— even though it didn’t end up working out.
“We thought it was going to be a booming business, but the needs in the region just didn’t align with our platform. In life and work, you can’t win it all – but it was an exciting and exhausting time, and I’m grateful that JLL had enough faith in me to give me the opportunity.”
Karen notes that moments outside the office sometimes matter even more.
“When my dad’s health was failing, we were going through one of the biggest property portfolio transitions at the time and I happened to be at the property when he died. During the two hours that I drove to get home from Mercer Mall in W. Virginia, Greg Maloney, the CEO of Retail, stayed on the phone with me until I got to the airport safely. It’s when you really need someone and the support that your colleagues unexpectedly provide that means the most sometimes. To me, the people and relationships I’ve developed at JLL are more important than any career moment.”