It started with a newspaper article in 2002.
After spending six months with her newborn daughter Cameron-Claire, Jackie Doak was reevaluating what she wanted to do.
“When you have a life-changing event, such as having a child, you get very reflective. I realised I was seeking a career change and took the time to think ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’ You’re never too old to consider something new, so I evaluated my skills, experiences and what fulfills me. I love interacting with people. I’m not a behind-the-desk person; I’m inspired by meaningful relationships. I was leaning towards real estate, especially with my legal background and my experience with contracts and negotiations.”
The newspaper article she saw said permission had been granted for a master-planned development owned by Ken Dart called the West Indian Club, which eventually became Camana Bay.
“It really intrigued me, so I wrote a letter to Jim Lammers expressing my interest to work with the company,” she says.
Jim Lammers and Mark VanDevelde called her a few months later for an interview at Dart’s offices, then in the Mirco Centre.
“Given the approval to proceed with the development, the company was in a growth stage and we went through the organisational chart of opportunities and I was hired as the VP of sales,” she says. “Then in October 2003, we purchased SafeHaven – which is now called Regatta Office Park – so I became the VP of sales and leasing.”
Doak was successful in overseeing the rapid leasing of 127,000 square feet of office space at Regatta and her role with Dart continued to grow from there.
“Meritocracy is one of our core values. If you demonstrate capability and you have the desire, you can work in any area,” she says. “You’re not pigeonholed by virtue of your education or the position you were originally hired for.”
The diverse opportunities for career growth is one of the great aspects of working for the Dart group, she says.
“I’m not a behind-the-desk person; I’m inspired by meaningful relationships.”
At the time of Doak’s hiring, Camana Bay was still in the master planning phase.
“It was a very exciting time. One of the first things I had the opportunity to do was to go to Santa Monica [California] where our architects had created a large-scale model of the town of Camana Bay,” she says. “It had everything, right down to the palm trees. You could walk around it and look through the courtyards and the breezeways. I was amazed by the meticulous amount of planning and study that had gone into every single detail.”
Today, Camana Bay’s Town Centre is remarkably similar to its model, albeit with additional buildings that were planned years later. Although the Town Centre might have been built according to plan, it has evolved organically, as happens in any town. Thoughtful master-planning, however, helps that evolution.
“Careful thought about human connection and experiences resulted in a place where you want to be. You can walk around, relax, spend time with friends and family and enjoy life’s memorable moments – we often used the phrase, ‘makes you want to linger longer,’” she says. “For example, the green chairs on the Crescent are very light so that you can move them if you want to create a grouping. When you walk through Camana Bay, it’s all about the pedestrian and the human interaction with the streetscape; it’s all about the experience.”
Details like the height of the buildings and the width between the buildings were all carefully planned to give a good backdrop for people.
“The people who come and use the town make it authentic,” she says. “However beautiful the Paseo is, if people don’t come and bring it to life, then the project is not successful. I’m proud to have been a part of creating something that is more than bricks and mortar and has such a positive impact on the people who work here, live here or come to visit.”
NEW ROLE, EXPANDING DEVELOPMENTS
In June 2016, Doak was promoted from Chief Operating Officer to President of Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd., which has since been rebranded to Dart Real Estate.
Over the years Doak and the executive team have worked closely with Ken Dart and understand his vision and commitment to the continued economic and social success of the Cayman Islands, ensuring that his developments and investments enhance the quality of life for all who visit or live here.
“As president of Dart Real Estate, I have the ability to impact company culture by making sure everyone on the team understands our purpose and that they not only contribute to our success, but are also critical to our success.”
Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Doak took the time over three days to handwrite 124 personalised cards to the Dart Real Estate team.
“I wanted to thank each and every one of them individually and let them know how important they are to our overall success, from the facilities department to the executive team,” she says. “We’re only as good as our people.”
Dart Real Estate is a dynamic company that has continued to evolve over Doak’s 13 years with the company. New projects like Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa and The Residences at Seafire have elevated Dart Real Estate’s portfolio. The upcoming plans for Camana Bay are equally impressive.
As Camana Bay celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2017, it will complete a major road infrastructure project that will position it for continued growth over the next decade. The One Nexus Way building is scheduled for completion in October of this year and there is further construction in the pipeline.
“Our development cycle is typically three years from the time the decision is made,” Doak says. “Traditionally what we’ve done is when approximately 40,000 square feet of space is available, we start the next office building on spec.”
Both the 18 Forum Lane and One Nexus Way buildings were started before anchor tenants were secured, and Doak says Dart Real Estate and its founder, Ken Dart, have the confidence in the Cayman market as a jurisdiction of choice for financial services and other industries.
With so much going on in the Dart development world, Doak is never bored, and no day is ever the same.
“I am inspired to come to work every day” she says. “I love where I work and what I do. I enjoy the people I work with and all the opportunities I am presented with. What fulfills me is being able to inspire others and knowing that what we are creating today, our investments, community activities and developments, will have a positive impact, whether on an individual, myself or the Cayman Islands as a whole. It’s a very rewarding career.”