Occupancy planning provides long-term career opportunity for JLL boomerang

Jerry Gonzales says professional experience, support and opportunities were hard to match anywhere else

Jerry Gonzales has had a front row seat to the booming tech scene in the San Francisco Bay Area for a decade and a half. As a Director of Occupancy Planning for JLL, he’s had an intimate view on some of the inner workings of some of the world’s most innovative companies.

What has he learned?

“Being flexible and agile is really critical when working with the best and brightest in the tech industry,” said Gonzales. “These companies have a truly innovative culture and an expectation around thinking outside the box when it comes to their corporate real estate solutions.”

Working with technology giants fills Gonzales’ days now, but that wasn’t where he got his start. The California native originally started his career in commercial banking and insurance.

“I have a degree in business management,” Gonzales said. “I fell into corporate real estate by accident.”

Gonzales spent three years with JLL before leaving to pursue another opportunity in the corporate real estate sector. After six years, he found his way back to JLL.

We discuss what attracted Gonzales to real estate and why he returned to JLL as a “boomerang.”

Q: Tell us about what you do on our occupancy planning team.

A: In my current role, I’m the Director of Occupancy Planning for a team at a large technology client. We work closely with their CAD specialists and security designers to integrate information into their as-built drawings.

We serve as their master records for all the space changes we oversee, so that those plans stay current and contribute to driving the client's short and long-term space needs.

Q: What made you want to work for JLL again?

A: JLL has the strongest occupancy planning platform and practice support. The extensive e-learning program and our annual OP Exchange which brings together our entire team for networking and learning are two examples of what differentiates us from other firms. This type of programming allows for innovation and a deeper understanding of occupancy planning. As long as I’ve been in this industry, my skillset has definitely been sufficient, but I’ve found there’s an enormous benefit to working with the platform for support to enhance it. The occupancy planning platform and practice is also great when it comes to enhancing team abilities and growing the business. That’s the biggest difference I’ve seen between JLL and other major corporate real estate companies, and I’ve found it to be a huge asset.

Q: What initially got you into real estate and occupancy planning?

A: JLL was looking for a project coordinator and I decided to give it a try. I started 21 years ago doing project coordinator activities and helping construction project managers. In that role, I was collaborating often with our in-house occupancy planning team. I thought it was so interesting what they were doing, so I started looking into occupancy planning further. I ended up moving from project management to the occupancy planning team shortly after that and have worked within JLL on a number of accounts in that capacity. I’ve been with JLL for 14 and a half years total now.

Q: What excites you about your job?

A: I really like the people component. As a manager for many teams on different accounts and companies, I really enjoy that I can see how my work helps people excel in their careers. The people that I work with often go on to become the go-to real estate person at their respective companies. My work at JLL gives me a sense of pride, that I can use my strengths to be part of that upward trajectory for others. The people I collaborate with become additional resources and sounding boards. This job has really helped me to grow my network.

Q: Why would you encourage someone to work in occupancy planning?

A: Whether the economy is booming or contracting, occupancy planning is always in strong demand. Economic change begets more change, which means clients’ spaces are always either expanding or contracting. No matter what, they’re going to need people like us to navigate those changes. There are ways to utilize all types of different skill sets to answer questions like, how do you process data in a way that clients can understand? What kind of information do they need to make their decisions?  How best can we migrate people or buildings or how can we find different markets for our clients? It’s a very robust work stream.

Q: What skills do you need to do your job?

A: You need to be a people person and a good listener. Analytics skills are key too. You have to be able to take raw data and translate it into an actionable plan. Diligence is a huge asset, whether you’re tasked with handling issues that come up, or staying on top of deliverables owed.

Q: How does occupancy planning help our clients?

A: It creates occupancy and space solutions so clients can make the most informed business decisions. An occupancy planner has the ability to absorb a lot of information quickly and translate it so that clients can make decisions quickly. We are the guides to the corporate real estate process, which allows clients to focus on their core competency.

Q: What do you like most about working at JLL?

A: The opportunities. Everyone has certain expectations of their own career path. Here, you are the master of your own destiny because JLL gives you many options. In my experience, there have been so many opportunities to explore different career tracks just within JLL. The skill sets I developed here touch on every subject. The experience, training, and career network I’ve developed at JLL are things I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

Interested in a career in occupancy planning? Learn more about available roles and opportunities.