Cushman & Wakefield Names Michelle MacKay CEO as John Forrester Retires

Andrew McDonald will expand his role to global president and COO

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Cushman & Wakefield (CWK) CEO John Forrester is retiring and will be succeeded by Michelle MacKay, who currently serves as president and chief operating officer, Commercial Observer can first report. 

Forrester, who has a 35-year tenure at the company and has served as CEO since 2022, will step down on June 30, with MacKay taking the reins on July 1 and serving on C&W’s board of directors as part of the succession plan. 

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Forrester was appointed CEO in January 2022, replacing then-CEO (and current executive chairman of the board) Brett White

“It has been an honor to lead Cushman & Wakefield as CEO through its post-COVID transitionary period, which underscored the firm’s industry leadership, our core values and strengths and culminated in record company revenue and EBITDA in 2022,” Forrester said in prepared remarks. “I am proud of our great company and what our Cushman & Wakefield colleagues around the world have accomplished. ”

MacKay brings more than three decades of commercial real estate experience to the table, having held positions at both public and privately-held companies in the industry including iStar, UBS, JPMorgan Chase and HIMCO

In 2020, MacKay was named C&W’s chief operating officer, before being promoted to the expanded role of president and COO in January 2022, where she oversaw several of C&W’s divisions and regions, including its global occupier services. 

“I’m looking forward to leading this great firm through its next chapter of strategic growth,” MacKay said. “Cushman & Wakefield’s unique entrepreneurial culture and employee expertise position us to not only successfully navigate the current challenges in commercial real estate services, but to also deliver long-term value, profitability and growth.” 

With MacKay now bound for the CEO seat, Andrew McDonald — currently president of Cushman & Wakefield in the Americas — has been named global president and COO. An industry vet who has been with C&W for more than two decades, McDonald will oversee all of C&W’s service lines across its global footprint in the expanded role. 

“I look forward to partnering with Andrew and collaborating with our teams around the world to amplify our positive impact for clients, shareholders and the cities and communities in which we operate,”  MacKay said.

MacKay’s naming as CEO is the latest of several notable C-Suite appointments made by C&W recently — both elevating and hiring women for some top positions. 

Earlier this month the firm named Noelle Perkins asgeneral counsel and corporate secretary; in March, it promoted Sal Companieh  to chief digital and information officer; last June it hired Mia Mends as the new chief executive of C&W Services; and last July it promoted Marla Maloney to president of Americas Services. 

Forrester got his career start in 1988 as group chief executive for DTZ, which merged with C&W in 2015. When he took over as CEO in 2022, White praised his “level of integrity, exceptional work ethic, deep client knowledge and strong global relationships.”

In prepared remarks on Thursday, White thanked Forrester for “his dedication and service to the firm and to the commercial real estate services industry over his long and distinguished career.” 

He continued to say that Forrester’s efforts have “strengthened the firm’s foundation and culture.” 

“The board is pleased that Michelle MacKay will succeed John as CEO,” White said. “Michelle has an impressive track record of creating substantial value for shareholders and clients through her deep expertise in commercial real estate and corporate strategy.

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,” White added. 

Forrester will remain a strategic adviser to the company until the end of the year.

Cathy Cunningham can be reached at ccunningham@commercialobserver.com