Have a child.
Plant a tree.
Write a book.
Well, Mikel Echavarren, our CEO in Spain, has completed all three. Indeed he has three children; a collection of bonsais; and he’s a published author of: ‘Del mercado inmobiliario a la industria inmobiliaria’ (‘From real estate market to real estate industry’), in which he distils the knowledge accumulated in his more than 30 years’ experience as a real estate professional.
But he is most proud achievement is his 30 year-marriage to his wife who is his biggest fan. After meeting her, he decided that same day that he had to marry her.
Mikel is enterprising and entrepreneurial, above all he goes above and beyond. He cannot imagine getting only half-involved in a project. He served in the Spanish air force for almost two years, reaching the rank of lieutenant, before starting his career, in 1987, at Arthur Andersen. Initially as an auditor in the construction and real estate group, then later on he moved into strategy and financial consulting in the real estate sector. Eventually he became the partner responsible for the Real Estate Corporate Finance Division Spain and Portugal, having devoted more than 15 years to the firm.
In 2002, together with his partners and good friends, he founded IREA, an independent financial and strategic consulting firm in the real estate and hotel sectors. He held the position of Chief Executive Officer and Chairman until February 2018, when IREA joined forces with Colliers International.
Mikel Echavarren is easily one of the most recognised professionals in the real estate industry in Spain. In the course of his long career he has advised hundreds of companies, managed the financial restructuring of more than €8 billion worth of real estate company debt and become a trusted name in the Spanish residential development market.
His vast experience, coupled with a natural gift for predicting what the future holds for us in an unpredictable industry, have made him the quintessential thought-leader in the industry. A straight-talking, battle-hardened adviser, in May this year Mikel was named Real Estate Professional of the Year in the influential SIMA-ASPRIMA 2018 Awards, which set the standard for public recognition of the industry’s most successful initiatives and top professionals, held during the Madrid International Real Estate Exhibition, SIMA.
A typical day for Mikel will comprise collaborating with his team, meeting with clients and business trips. Despite an increasingly challenging schedule, he uses his time wisely to ensure he’s always active by travelling to the office on foot or bike and training in the gym at lunch times.
In the office he’s tremendously approachable and you’ll often find him at coffee time (for him it’s invariably a Diet Coke) or in the corridor, discussing some hot topic in the news agenda, which he always loves to talk about. Technology is key, Mikel no longer reads newspapers, instead he gets his news via smartphone, using all the social media, of which he’s a great fan.
Mikel is a keen brand advocate and he is certainly a ‘CEO you can talk to’ always willing to offer coaching to employees, provide strategic advice to customers or expert comment to journalists. He is passionate about communication and helps to drive the communications strategy using the latest technology like video and television interviews, radio interviews, talks and forums.
In May this year, for the fifth year running, he moderated a roundtable in the Real Estate Conference at SIMA 2018, Spain’s most important real estate event, which brings together large numbers of professionals and more than 300 companies each year.
Together, with some of the industry’s most highly respected professionals, Mikel analysed the trends in real estate financing, a constantly changing market in Spain in which financial institutions and investment funds are joining forces to rebuild the industry.
Standing in front of a camera or a large audience comes naturally to him, as he demonstrated once when he collected the most important award of his career before an audience of more than 500 people.
Outside of the office, Mikel demonstrate the true spirit of Colliers with his tenacity, enthusiasm and sporting achievements. He has completed 20 marathons, including the “6 Majors”, run a 100 km endurance test in 24 hours and completed
more than 100 half marathons. When he’s not running he relaxes playing Candy Crush and he’s reached level 2,337 (there has to be an end and he wants to reach it!).
He also has a passion for photography (“interpreting the light and seeing things other people don’t see”, as he puts it), Roman and medieval history books and social causes. He is committed to giving back to the community and for the last 10 years, he has been a trustee and adviser to the Ana Bella Foundation, a charity who offer support to women suffering from domestic abuse.
We all have special years and dates in our lives and 2018 will certainly be a memorable year for Mikel as he embarks on his latest professional challenge: leading Colliers International’s business in Spain.