Kay Locke – Fresh Perspectives: CBRE’s Emerging Leaders

January 26, 2023 4 Minute Read

Toronto West skyline with condos

Anyone who has the pleasure of spending time with Kay Locke quickly learns two things: she is candid and extremely passionate about what she does.

Based in CBRE’s Toronto West office, Locke specializes in advising office using clients on their real estate and provides strategies and solutions to suit their long-term objectives. She is dynamic and driven, qualities that have no doubt contributed to her success.

We spoke to Locke about her passion for client service and her advice for young brokers.


Tell us about your career path to this point.

I got into real estate straight out of university, as an administrative assistant for an industrial team. Eventually, I decided to take the leap onto the sales floor on my own as an office broker. I went all in and was 100% commission-based from day one.

What inspires you about commercial real estate in Toronto West?

I love being able to dig into what companies do and learn new things every day. There is such a variety of fascinating businesses and approaches to learn about, both on the occupier and on the landlord side.

What is the best advice you’ve received?

Silence is golden. If you’re in the middle of a deal and talking to someone on the other side, ask them a few strategic leading questions, then let them do the talking. Stay a little quiet; it pays off and you’ll learn so much.

How is your perspective helpful to clients?

I always consider the long term. When talking to tenants, I take the time to assess their needs now, in the mid-future and in the long run. From there, we structure the real estate. My job is to solution real estate around my clients’ business needs, so it’s critical that I take the time to understand who they are, what they do and how they operate before moving forward with options.

Too many people start with the real estate and try to make it work backwards, but it doesn’t benefit the client.

Don't be afraid to take on new projects: you never know where they'll take you. - Kay Locke

Which trend are you most excited about in your market?

I can’t wait to see what happens with the B- and C-class office product. Tenants have been taking advantage of nicely built-out A-class space and moving out of older outdated offices during COVID, which was a major flight to quality trend. While some of those B- and C-class office buildings became redevelopments, that is no longer trending. I’m looking forward to seeing how they will be repositioned or repurposed in the future.

Do you have tips for others starting their commercial real estate careers?

Play the long game, build relationships, and make client service your priority. Providing good customer service will create business in the future. I used to do so much work for very little commission, but the learned experiences and the knowledge I gained got me to where I am now.

Don’t be afraid to take on projects you may not have otherwise considered; you never know where they’ll take you.

What’s something your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?

I would be surprised if people knew that my name is Katherine.

What’s a good book you’ve read recently?

I read a book called “Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work (and Why It's Different Than You Think),” which is about women in business and thinking differently. As a woman working in sales, I’ve often had to think outside the box, so I recommend giving it a read.

If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?

Besides surfing in Bali – who wouldn’t want to do that – I’d probably do a sales job similar to brokerage. I wouldn’t necessarily need to sell a product, but I’d want the client interface and customer service aspects.

What’s a cause that’s important to you?

I was on the inaugural Canadian Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee. While we’ve taken significant steps, I know we still have a lot of work to do. I believe everybody could be doing more to support DE&I, but I’m excited about the direction we’re heading.

Recent Insights

Stay In The Know

Subscribe today and join hundreds of professionals who get the latest blogs delivered straight to their inbox.