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Brett Gray - Charlotte's Most Admired CEOs Honoree

Savannah Durban • 2/19/2020
Cushman & Wakefield Managing Principal Brett Gray provides strategic leadership, driving high-performance, operational excellence, client care and engagement, culture and recruitment and development of top talent with a focus on growing existing service lines and expanding into new businesses across the region.

Brett believes that culture is at the heart of any great company and has been a champion and advocate of culture within the Charlotte office.


How has the leader contributed to the company's financial success?

Since Brett was promoted to Managing Principal in April 2017, he has had a significant impact not only on the firm’s financial performance, but on the company culture as well. In 2016, the office’s revenue was $13.6 million with a 17.22% margin. Just three years later, the company has experienced tremendous growth, reaching more than $34.5 million in revenue in 2019 with a 29.5% margin.

In 2018, Cushman & Wakefield filed for its IPO to become a public company, and Brett not only successfully led the office through the transition but continued revenue growth year-over-year in the midst of the change. Globally, the firm now totals approximately 51,000 employees in 400 offices and 70 countries. In 2018, the firm had revenue of $8.2 billion across core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, valuation and other services.

Brett has played a proactive role in the firm’s organic growth, recruiting some of the best and brightest talent in the business to bolster Cushman & Wakefield’s offerings in the market such as Marc Robinson and Jordan McCarley, Vice Chairs with the firm’s Sunbelt Multifamily Advisory Group. Brett played a pivotal role in ensuring the successful integration of the Sunbelt Multifamily Advisory Group (previously known as Multi Housing Advisors) into the Charlotte office following Cushman & Wakefield’s acquisition of the company. The team has experienced tremendous success throughout the Carolinas, growing from 79 deals totaling 17,095 units and $1.76 billion in sales volume in 2018 to 85 deals totaling 19,048 units and $2.28 billion in sales volume in 2019.

The Charlotte office has grown to more than 110 employees, and consistently positions itself as a force in the commercial real estate market. Under Brett’s leadership the firm has completed several milestone transactions including the sale of the Bank of America Tower at Legacy Union for $450 million in 2019, a record sale price for a single office property in the state. The Charlotte team of the Sunbelt Multifamily Advisory Group arranged the $145 million sale of the 367-unit Inspire SouthPark in 2019 as well, totaling close to $400,000 per unit.

Thanks to the elevated profile Brett has created, the firm has been tapped for key leasing assignments at landmark projects including the office space at Camp North End, an adaptive reuse project that is slated to deliver 1.8 million square feet of creative office and retail space, as well as a 23-story, 385,000-square-foot office tower at the intersections of South Boulevard, East/West Boulevard and the East/West Boulevard Lynx Blue Line Station.

How has the leader created a great work culture?

Brett believes that culture is at the heart of any great company and has been a champion and advocate of culture within the Charlotte office, leading the firm to back-to-back wins through the Charlotte Business Journal “Best Places to Work” awards program in 2018 and 2019. Creating an award-winning culture was crucial to success and collaboration when the firm consolidated its two previous offices into one last year.

As Managing Principal, Brett has overseen the launch of several local chapters of employee resource groups including the Women’s Integrated Network, Cushman & Wakefield Future Leaders, and Blacks United in Leadership & Development and continues to champion and support their efforts.

He also launched the office’s first Cushman Cares committee, which is responsible for overseeing volunteer opportunities as well as the firm’s annual Great Day of Service and Week of Giving, as well as a social committee to create opportunities for employees to come together. In 2019 the firm was actively involved with Corvian Community School, Freedom School Partners, Young Black Leadership Alliance, Urban Ministry Center, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, and the Humane Society.

Last year the firm put out a global employee engagement survey, and the results indicated that the Charlotte office ranked as one of the highest nationally, which is a true testament to the culture Brett has fostered.

How has the leader made contributions to the community?

Brett is involved with many charities throughout the city and involved with industry organizations as well. A list of his involvement is below:

  • Childress Klein YMCA Board – Brett was a board member from 2014 to 2019 and led three committees
  • Charlotte Rescue Mission – Brett spent six years on the board, led two committees and served on the Executive Committee for a year
  • Charlotte Collegiate Football “Leather Head” (2009-2012)
  • YMCA basketball coach 

Additionally, Brett is an active member of the Charlotte Region of Commercial Realtors, which includes more than 1,000 members. He has been on the board since 2016 and was the Vice President of the Executive Committee in 2019. He will be President in 2022. Other professional affiliations include:

  • Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, Domestic Advisory Council (2019 - current)
  • Urban Land Institute (ULI)
  • CoreNet Global
  • Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), CPM Designation
  • Building Owner and Managers Association Member (BOMA)

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