Avison Young bolsters global finance team with five strategic appointments

Left to right: Christine Battist, Robert Dunlop, Hiren Thakar, Rick Jenkins, Ashwini Sawhney, Tom Morande

Mark E. Rose, Chair and CEO of Avison Young, the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm, has announced the strategic appointment of five highly regarded finance and strategy professionals to enhance the company’s global expansion program.

The appointments include the promotions of two Avison Young finance leaders and the hiring of three leading professionals to newly created positions.

“We’re thrilled to expand our finance leadership team during our global expansion program,” comments Rose. “These strategic promotions and hires will bolster the team as we continue to deploy a tremendous amount of capital and expand our global footprint through more recruitment, mergers, acquisitions and new-office openings.”

Rose continues: “The finance team comprises thought leaders who have proven track records and understand the financial intricacies of the commercial real estate business and other industries. They have confidently – and competently – navigated companies through exponential growth while minimizing disruption and enhancing shareholder value. Working closely with our Chief Financial Officer Christine Battist, they will lead Avison Young’s global finance operations, oversee the aforementioned capital deployment, help implement our investment strategy and manage day-to-day accounting operations as we expand further.”

The following appointments are effective immediately.

Steve Cresswell joins as European Director of Finance and Operations: Working with Gerry Hughes, President of Avison Young’s European business, Cresswell will help to build the European business by leading the overall financial management and operations of the company’s growing European business, expanding current operations in Germany and Poland and identifying investment growth targets elsewhere on the continent. Cresswell brings 17 years of commercial real estate industry experience to Avison Young, most recently as EMEA CFO & COO of JLL’S Office Fit-Out business.

Tom Morande is promoted to Chief Financial Officer, North America: Morande will serve as a strategic business partner to the U.S., Canada and Mexico leadership teams and Managing Directors. He will also be responsible for providing leadership on long-term and short-term strategic planning and growth, profitability, financial planning and analysis for these markets. Morande, a Principal, has served as Avison Young’s Chief Accounting Officer since joining the company in 2015 and has 22 years of commercial real estate industry experience.

Ricardo (Rick) Jenkins is promoted to Chief Accounting Officer: Jenkins will be responsible for all aspects of reporting on financial and operational performance against both the annual budget and the company’s long-term strategy while also overseeing financial planning and analysis. Jenkins, a Principal, has 13 years of commercial real estate experience and was previously Avison Young’s Global Controller. He joined the firm in 2016 from JLL, where he served as a leader within the Americas finance team.

Robert (Rob) Dunlop joins as Global Treasurer: Dunlop will be responsible for overseeing and directing Avison Young’s global treasury function, including capital structure and strategy, banking relationships, cash management, hedging and debt compliance. Dunlop brings 25 years of treasury and finance experience to Avison Young, most recently as Vice-President & Group Treasurer at INEOS Styrolution Group GmbH in Frankfurt, Germany.

Ashwini Sawhney joins as Director of Strategy: Sawhney will implement key strategic initiatives surrounding M&A activity, recruitment and the development of new services and geographies, and liaise with senior company staff on investments. Sawhney brings more than 15 years of corporate strategy and development experience to Avison Young. She previously worked in the corporate development groups of Fortune 1000 companies, as an advisor to private-equity-owned middle-market companies and at a global financial advisory firm.

The four finance leaders will report to Battist and Sawhney will report to Avison Young’s Chief Strategy Officer Hiren Thakar. Morande, Jenkins, Dunlop and Sawhney will be based in Avison Young’s Chicago office and Cresswell will be based in London, U.K.

“Our rapid global expansion and growth require finance leaders who can help transform Avison Young,” says Battist. “I’m proud to have promoted and sourced such a high calibre of talent. Tom, Rick, Rob, Ashwini and Steve embody our values, embrace leading change and are motivated to execute our strategic plan. Our team’s diversity and collective experience will help propel our business by providing critical financial and operational analysis that can be used to make informed strategic investment and operational decisions.”

The appointments are part of Avison Young’s aggressive global expansion program, which commenced with a partnership and funding from Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) in 2018 and was heightened by the completion of the acquisition of U.K-based GVA on February 1, 2019.

“We’re looking forward to designing and implementing strategic financial systems and tools that ensure long-term business growth for our clients and company,” says Morande. “It is an exciting time to be at Avison Young and we are so pleased to be adding experienced and skilled resources to the finance team to exceed clients’ objectives.”

In the past two and a half months alone, the GVA acquisition has sparked hires and promotions involving more than 60 global and senior professionals, brokers and subject-matter experts – as well as acquisitions of brokerage operations in Germany and Canada.

The firm’s recent announcements since June 2019 have included the promotions of: Clint Miller to Global Director of Affinity Groups; Mark Fieder to President, Canada; and Martin Dockrill to Chief Operating Officer, Global Operations; as well as the appointments of: Charlie Morris as leader of the company’s U.S. Flexible Office Solutions practice; Melissa Dinslage as Global Director of Internal Communications; John Sikaitis as a Principal of Avison Young and Chief Innovation Officer; Nick Guglietta as Global Practice Lead, Product Development; Carl Caputo as Global Practice Lead, Data Science; and Nick Axford as a Principal of Avison Young and Global Director of Research. New employees also joined the company through the acquisitions of Hamburg, Germany-based Völckers King & Co. GmbH and the Avison Young affiliate in Southwestern Ontario.

Concludes Rose: “These promotions and hires reflect the increasing momentum of our expansion program. They also demonstrate top professionals’ desire to experience our collaborative culture and client-centric business model. We look forward to announcing further exciting hires, promotions and acquisitions in the near future.”