Each year, Midwest Real Estate News runs its Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame issue, highlighting the careers of the industry’s most successful pros. This year, we are running those profiles online, too. Today, we look at the career of Jackie Walsh, president and chief operating officer of Milwaukee’s Irgens.
The bio: Jackie Walsh has worked in varying capacities of the commercial real estate industry for about 30 years. In 1987, she was working for a national accounting firm making business appraisals. She returned to her native Wisconsin in 1991, and found work consulting in the commercial real estate business for Mark Irgens, who was then at Boldt Development in Appleton, Wisconsin. In 1998, Irgens, Walsh and others at Boldt founded Irgens Development in Milwaukee.
Strong growth: The company started with 38 employees, a few real estate holdings and about 1.5 million square feet of property under management in the Fox Valley, Kenosha and Milwaukee area. Today, Irgens boasts more than 100 employees, and more than 60 commercial office investments valued at more than $825 million. The company also manages more than 5 million square feet of property around the country, with offices in Milwaukee, Phoenix and Chicago.
In 2014, Walsh was named president and chief operating officer of Irgens. She continues to lead the company as it keeps growing.
Risky business: “Managing risk is paramount to succeeding in this business,” Walsh told us. “While setting forth a plan is typical, having a Plan B, C, etc. along with an exit strategy, are equally important. There is a distinction between scrambling to address unforeseen circumstances and having to implement Plan B. Because the stakes are high, one cannot underestimate what could go wrong. Risk management is key.”
A bursting portfolio: Among the projects in Walsh’s professional portfolio are those involving The Meadowlands Business & Technology Center, Mayfair Woods Business & Technology Center, and the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, Blood Center of Southeastern Wisconsin, Rubin’s Furniture/Cramer-Krasselt all in Milwaukee; the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, the Karl Jewish Community Campus in Whitefish Bay and, at multiple sites, St. Luke’s Medical Center Ambulatory Offices.
Meeting the challenge: “The greatest challenge in selling commercial real estate is maximizing the return on your investment,” Walsh said. “In that regard, timing is critically important. This requires consistently monitoring market conditions. Our stakeholders rely on us to do this and to not miss a beat.”