On January 1, Bruce Mosler officially takes the helm as CEO of Cushman & Wakefield, the Manhattan-based real estate brokerage with 11,000 staff worldwide. Mosler, who has worked for the Manhattan-based brokerage for 17 years, will succeed long-time CEO Arthur Mirante. Mirante—who was only the fifth Cushman CEO in the firm’s 87-year history--held the post for 20 years. NREI editor in chief Matt Valley spoke at length with Mirante recently on what it takes to be a leader and why he chose Mosler for the top spot.

Q: Was there ever any consideration given to hiring a candidate from outside the company? What ultimately put Bruce over the top?

A: Actually, we did hire from the outside in promoting Bruce. From the very day I recruited him, I always felt that he had potential to be my successor. And if you recall he was president of the Northeast region at The Galbreath Company at the time I was recruiting him.

Q: What was the biggest challenge on your watch during your tenure, and what do you believe will be the biggest challenge on Bruce’s watch?

A: Attracting, recruiting and retaining superior talent. That was my challenge, and specifically that challenge became very, very evident as we strove 11 or 12 years ago to become a global firm. I realized in short order that the partners and the people that we were going to have as our employees in London, Asia and Latin America were as important — if not even more important — than the people we had running our California, Chicago and Florida operations because they were so much further away and because the real estate practice in those environments were so different. This means that as a CEO I had to rely much more on having the right leadership team in place in those areas. There was that much more risk.

Now, as you know, to win business and to continue to be seen as a preferred service company you have to offer clients better account representatives. You also have to offer them better information and superior analytical skills. It’s all about the caliber of the people you have on the ground interfacing with your clients.

Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of as you reflect on your tenure? What’s your legacy?

A: I recall that when I joined Cushman &Wakefield, a sales organization 30 years ago, brokers didn’t enjoy the greatest reputation in the business community. We were the salesmen; we tended to puff a lot. The level of trust — you really had to earn it. And it was usually earned on a personal basis and not on a company basis from a commitment perspective. The respect level is part of the evolution. And I think our firm continues to enjoy an outstanding reputation. We’ve worked it and we’ve told prospective employees, "If you’re going to come here, you’re going to live by these values."

Q: So what advice do you have for Bruce?

A: Number one, be true to yourself and trust your instincts. He’s got the human qualities that are required to succeed. He’s got to have faith and confidence in his abilities, which he does. I would just remind him of that. Second, I would tell him to make sure that each and every one of his daily decisions that he incorporates into those decisions the C&W values that we talked about a lot before. That should be his guide as to how I would handle this. He should just take a step back and say, "Let me take a look at our value system, and is the answer in that?" More often than not, it will be.