Global real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield named longtime executive Michelle MacKay to succeed CEO John Forrester, who is retiring.
Forrester, who has been with the company for 35 years and has served as CEO since 2022, will step down June 30, with MacKay, the current chief operating officer, taking over as chief executive July 1.
“I don’t require time to integrate into Cushman & Wakefield,” said MacKay, 56, during the brokerage’s earnings call on Thursday. “The foundation is strong and will allow me the ability to reassess and reconfirm what is the core business, confirming that we’re spending our time, our money and our energy where it makes sense today, and more importantly, for the future.”
Cushman announced the transition the same day it reported a 4% drop in first-quarter revenue to $2.2 billion from the year-earlier period as the commercial real estate industry was hit by rising interest rates and historically high inflation.
The firm is the fourth major brokerage to report year-over-year declines in real estate revenue in recent weeks, including JLL, which also reported Thursday, as well as CBRE, the world’s largest brokerage by total revenue, and Colliers, the fourth largest.
Forrester said in a statement that he has “great confidence in Michelle as a proven leader who will offer the firm exceptional vision, strategy and direction for achieving its performance and growth goals.” He will stay with Cushman as a strategic adviser through the end of the year, according to the statement.
Cushman & Wakefield also announced that President Andrew McDonald will step into the expanded role of global president and will take on MacKay’s role of COO, overseeing all the firm’s service lines and regions.
“In their new roles, the combination of Michelle and Andrew, who also has played a pivotal role in the firm’s profitability, growth and development of new strategic opportunities, creates a formidable leadership team that is uniquely qualified to steer evolution within the commercial real estate services industry,” Brett White, Cushman’s executive chairman of the board, said in the statement.
MacKay, who is Cushman’s global president and chief operating officer, has risen steadily through the organization since joining the firm’s board in 2018.
MacKay’s promotion as CEO is the latest of several notable leadership appointments made by Cushman to hire women in top positions. The brokerage last year promoted Marla Maloney to serve as president of its services lines.
MacKay was appointed chief operating officer in 2020, and Cushman added global president to her title in October 2021 as part of the Chicago-based real estate services company’s succession plan.
Before she joined Cushman & Wakefield, MacKay served as executive vice president of investments and head of capital markets at iStar and as executive director of commercial real estate at UBS.
Cushman & Wakefield also announced that John C. Cushman III, a member of the brokerage’s founding family, died Thursday. Cushman, a towering figure in commercial real estate who had a career spanning 60 years, was 82.