ADVANTAGE BUILDER: JILL LUNA
At age 12, Jill Luna made extra money at Christmas by wrapping presents for her mom’s salon clients, offering department-store quality with bows and ornaments. But her craftiness didn’t end there, she also designed and sold silk floral wreaths, and sewed her own clothes. Even her favorite subject in school – math – was tackled with colorful flourish.
“I’d put the problems in red and the answers in purple,” she recalled with a laugh. “I’ve always been systematic in the way I do things.”
AN EYE FOR DETAIL
Today Luna brings her creativity, mathematical talents and eye for detail to her role as Research Operations Manager for CBRE’s Southern California region, managing the Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange County, Inland Empire and San Diego markets. Luna oversees a 33-member team, and directs market information throughout the production process. She also works closely with her team to develop new products and tools to enhance CBRE’s sales capabilities.
“Our sales professionals view us more as partners and market experts, because we deal with the data on a day-to-day basis. I enjoy the team environment where we all have the same goal.”
Research has changed enormously since Luna joined CBRE in the 1990s. “We are just scratching the surface of what we can do in terms of technology and how we scrub data,” she said. “CBRE is investing significantly in tools to connect the dots. Our sales professionals view us more as partners and market experts, because we deal with the data on a day-to-day basis. I enjoy the team environment where we all have the same goal.”
A native of suburban Los Angeles, Luna grew up with three brothers. “I was the pesky little sister,” she said. “It was like having four dads.” Her father was a police captain and her mom owned a manicurist business. She and her friends rode bikes, played pickup sports and swam in her backyard pool. In the summer, her family hosted an annual July 4th bash and traveled in their motor home to camp at the beach with friends. “My dad was very close to his coworkers, so we spent a lot of time with them and their kids,” Luna said.
Luna excelled in math, and volunteered for school clubs that did community service and planned social events. After high school, she enrolled in community college, and considered careers in education or interior design. Then she began temping at CBRE, answering phones.
“There were two women in one office who were always busy,” she recalled. “On one of my lunch breaks I asked if I could help with anything. They said yes, and when they were expanding the group, I was included in the interview process.”
One of those women became her mentor, helping Luna refine her research talents and management style. “Most people in research go on to brokerage or different lines of the business, so I’m attentive to their professional development,” she said. “I want to give them the room to grow and help them hone their professional skills.”
DATA MINDED. STORY FOCUSED
When Luna started at CBRE, the job was focused on obtaining data, using tools like the White Pages, Thomas Brother maps and floppy disks from third-party research firms. Today the company’s proprietary databases are more comprehensive, and the information has to be smartly interpreted and presented -- which is where her creative skills come in.
“I’m always looking at how I can present the data so it stands out, tells a meaningful story and supports the expertise of our CBRE professionals,” she said. “I’m not an artist, but have a creative eye in developing new ways to look at things, instead of that boring bar graph. It’s rewarding to know you are helping someone win business and grow the company.”
“I’m always looking at how I can present the data so it stands out, tells a meaningful story and supports the expertise of our CBRE professionals.”
As technology has pushed the industry in a new direction, Luna has also broadened her pool of talent. “We hired a data analyst from the aerospace industry,” she noted. “He had to learn real estate concepts and markets, but had an amazing ability to manage data sets and pull insights that were out of the norm.”
THE LONG RUN
When Luna is not at work, she is busy with the activities of her kids, age 18, 15 and 7. “Family dinners together are huge,” she said. “We all talk about our day – even if it’s my teenagers giving me one-word answers.” To celebrate her oldest son’s high school graduation this year, the family took a trip to Hawaii.
“Embracing change is best thing you can do.”
Luna hits a 5am boot camp four days a week before heading to the office. She also runs with her husband two days a week. But she admits she wasn’t always so active. “I was the biggest cheater in high school PE ever,” she recalled laughing. “But I came to realization that I want to stay healthy and be around for a long time for my children.” Luna is currently training for her first half marathon.
Just like in the research business, “Doing something you haven’t done before and stretching yourself is fun,” she said. “Embracing change is best thing you can do.