Jessica Dearnley, principal broker at Flake & Kelley Commercial in Springdale, says balancing career and family has taught her there’s always more room on her plate.
And Dearnley still finds time to work out — she has StrongFirst kettlebell and bodyweight certifications — and to hit the slopes — she recently took a backcountry Adventure Skier trip, where she participated in avalanche ski training.
“I wake up and start running the moment I get out of bed,” she said.
But she doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, the busyness of commercial real estate was a big draw for her.
“I love how competitive and fast-paced the industry is, which is reflected in my job daily. Timing is everything,” she said.
Dearnley also appreciates that her job incorporates both analytical and creative skills.
She has always enjoyed using both sides of her brain, as reflected in her undergraduate degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, cognitive psychology and creative writing, with a French minor.
Education has always been a priority for Dearnley. She earned her MBA from the University of Miami in 2001, became a licensed Chartered Financial Analyst in 2008, earned her master’s degree in accounting from the University of Arkansas in 2010, and became a Certified Public Accountant in 2011.
Now, she is working to become a Certified Commercial Investment Member, an elite designation that denotes expertise in the disciplines of commercial and investment real estate.
“I am constantly pushing the goal line,” Dearnley said. “I set both small goals and the whales each year both professionally and personally. I rebalance my goals based on changing market conditions or what I have personally accomplished.”
She was ambitious from a young age, earning a position as a page for the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C., while still in high school.
In the years since she was featured in the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 2007 Forty Under 40 class, Dearnley, like others in her industry, weathered a financial crisis.
Midwest Mall Properties, of which she was chief operating officer, collapsed in 2010, as the problems for the retail world became problems for landlords.
The market is coming back, she said, but the experience has left her forever cautious. She is careful to look at all the variables and the future implications of any given lease agreement or sale.
Dearnley in 2012 joined Flake & Kelley, of which her father, John Flake, is chairman and partner.
Dearnley works with her husband, Matthew, who is CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Flake & Kelley office.
She deems the region the best place to find balance in work and personal life. Having lived in New York City, Chicago and Miami, she said it would be very difficult in those larger cities to get everything done with her career, while caring for three children with all of their activities and school life.
And, in both her career and personal life, Dearnley has her eyes fixed forward. “I want to enjoy the journey and hope I have not [yet] seen the highlight,” she said.