Career Profile: Jeanette I. Rice
Jeanette Rice is an economic geographer and a commercial real estate economist. She heads her own consulting firm, Rice Consulting, LLC, and provides investment strategy, market research and forecasts, regional economics, and capital markets analysis for owners of commercial real estate. She has 30 years of experience in analyzing commercial real estate property markets and regional economics throughout the U.S. and Mexico. Jeanette holds a BA in history from the University of Washington and an MA in urban geography from Queen's University. She also completed two years in the urban geography doctoral program at the University of Chicago. Jeanette lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her husband (a Texas Christian University geography professor) and 7th grade daughter, also both geographers and world travelers.
This profile was published in 2004. At that time, Jeanette was the Vice President for Market Research at Crescent Real Estate Equities, Ltd, in Fort Worth, Texas.
AAG: How do you use geography in your day-to-day work?
Jeanette: I work for a commercial real estate company. My job is to understand the office markets where we’re located, or maybe where we want to be buying, and then to translate that information into making better decisions for asset management, property management, leasing information, or acquisitions of new office buildings and so on. Basically what I do is urban geography and economic geography.
AAG: How so?
Jeanette: It is vital for me to understand the health of regional economies, and how they compare with one another. For example, it’s two o’clock today, and already questions on real estate markets that have crossed my desk, so far included Atlanta, Seattle, Dallas, and several others. Every day it’s like that.
AAG: So you have to know places.
Jeanette: Yeah, I mean I have to know the general regional economy of each of those, and then I have to know how they compare. It’s not just going to economic forecasters and looking at numbers; it’s also knowing what is driving the local economies, knowing what the major industries are, what’s going on there in the next five to ten years, because we’re making long term investments.
AAG: Right. I understand you do some fieldwork, too?
Jeanette: Yeah, I mean, because I’m a geographer, I love fieldwork. Or because I’m a geographer I feel that I have to go out and look at real estate and talk to people face to face and drive the markets. There’s still nothing like the feel of it and you can’t get that from reading, sitting at your desk in Fort Worth. That’s part of the fun of what I do.
AAG: How has being a geographer helped?
Jeanette: There are things that are very similar in cities and things that are different – there are patterns. And that’s what geography is all about, learning the patterns. So when you study real estate, a person without that background would go to a new city, and it would be sort of like starting all over.
AAG: What do you think is important about a geographical education?
Jeanette: I think as a citizen of the world, regional geography is still really important. There seems to be a trend away from regional courses, maybe because they’re not as practical, but I still think they’re really valuable. I also think that every young person should study or live abroad for a year. To the extent that the academic community can encourage that sort of experience of living abroad – we would have a healthier American society.
AAG: What other educational experiences?
Jeanette: I think everyone should take a class in accounting. I think geographers would do well to have a little bit of business knowledge.
AAG: What about research?
Jeanette: I do research every day. And I write – internally, I write reports all the time. But I don’t have the time to do the rigorous kind of analysis that the academics do.
AAG: A different perspective. . .
Jeanette: One of the advantages I have is that I see so much in terms of urban structure. Now I go out and I analyze what’s going on in Denver, or other cities in terms of urban dynamics. I have so much empirical knowledge…
AAG: A different time horizon, too. . .
Jeanette: Oh, yeah, I get a day to write my reports. Well, sometimes two days. At least you don’t have to have footnotes, it’s easier that way! Still, what I do is intellectual. Academics sometimes think that people who work in the corporate world don’t deal with intellectual issues and that’s not true. We just don’t think about them as long as maybe academics do because we don’t have that opportunity.
AAG: What do you see for the future in your field?
Jeanette: It would have to do with macro demographic trends in the U.S.: the movement south and west. Another one is the growth of minority groups. These trends have major implications for real estate.
AAG: What kinds of implications?
Jeanette: How we house people, how we provide shopping for them, maybe even to some extent how we create tourism opportunities or even distribute products to them, things like industrial spaces, are going to change.
AAG: What inspired you to be a geographer?
Jeanette: Although my family didn’t know they were geographers, we discussed things like, at the breakfast table, where the cereal came from. Or where such-andsuch was made, or if we had an hour to kill, we went to look at the port of Seattle, and look at the ships and talk about where they came from and where they were going.
AAG: What keeps you as an AAG member?
Jeanette: Well, I still feel I’m very much a geographer, even if I don’t use that term in my job very much. My business card doesn’t say that, but I feel very strongly about the discipline and have strong social ties to the community.
Dr. Patricia Solis. 2004