Thanks to her innate talent, drive and uncompromising work ethic, Meredith O’Connor is without equal in the city. Her secret superpower? She’s a connector. By building relationships with likeminded and equally motivated individuals, no matter their career or industry specialization, she’s built a business to be reckoned with and lifelong friends along the way.
A key player in helping corporations uncover often overlooked business and economic incentives, Meredith’s work continues to change skylines and bolster economies across the country. Let’s take a look at how it all began.
Government was the perfect start for Meredith, doing great things for the city she grew up in and loves. After she got her MBA, she was promoted from sergeant at arms in the City Council into the Planning Department. Under the inspiring leadership of Mayor Daley and in partnership with a team passionate about economic development, she jump-started her career working on exciting projects from the ’96 Democratic National Convention to the 2016 Olympic bid.
After 10 years she transitioned into World Business Chicago, structuring local moves for global corporations from Boeing to United to Pepsi. Traveling around the world with Chicago leaders telling our city’s story—China, India, Israel—gave her such a sense of civic pride. She eventually transitioned to JLL by way of a well-timed phone call from Bill Rogers, asking if she would consider a new career path. JLL wanted to leverage her network, and she surprised us with some big wins right out of the gate.
Meredith’s keys to success
“To be successful, you have to take a little risk and believe in yourself. The type of work we do at JLL is very flexible and entrepreneurial and I have always felt very comfortable in that environment. I love working with some of the best companies in the world.”
As Co-Chairman of JLL’s Headquarters Practice Group and a Business and Economic Incentives lead, Meredith has worked on news-making headquarters relocations since her early years at JLL, including United, Navistar, Toyota, Mercedes, Zurich, ConAgra and many more. After years of partnering with many global Fortune 500s on their next headquarters offices and manufacturing facilities, her team has sharpened the ability to marry global and local perspectives, acting as a trusted facilitator of corporate and governmental partnerships that drive economic growth.
Meredith’s other personal career highlights include: Toyota and Mazda’s recently announced $1.6 billion plant in Alabama; managing the Toyota, Aon and Alight Solutions global accounts; working on the Obama Presidential Center, a coup for our city and a landmark project our entire JLL team has rallied around; and helping launch tech-forward innovation centers like 1871, UI LABS, Matter and mHUB.
Her husband’s brother, an alderman, introduced Meredith and Dan when Dan was in law school and needed a wedding date. The rest is history. They have five children and 68 relatives within a square mile of where they live on Chicago’s Northwest Side, a pretty remarkable statistic. Meredith is very passionate about her family. They have a rule—dinner together every night, no matter how late.
Outside of the office
Meredith is a founding member of a pretty infamous “No Books Allowed” Book Club, which meets religiously once a month with a lot of her favorite people, many old friends from her days in government. As you might imagine, they’re reading their way through Gibsons’ ample wine list and enjoy everything from a light glass of Prosecco to a rare, imported red. She and her husband also love to travel, golf and cheer on their kids at sports games.