How did you find your way into the industry?
A little bit of right place/right time and persistence. By senior year of college I knew I wanted to get involved in real estate but to what capacity I really had no idea. Being that this was 2009/2010 it probably couldn’t have been a worse time to apply for jobs. Growing up on the east coast I had always been an avid skier and decided it would be a good time live in the Colorado mountains for a few years. Before moving I landed a job at a new resort in Steamboat Springs, CO for a luxury boutique developer. I was pretty much a glorified bellman/personal concierge but it was probably the best job I will ever have in my life. The resort was a high end fractional ownership concept and I quickly became very good friends with numerous members as they flew in every few weeks. After spending three years in Colorado skiing 100+ days a year, mountain biking and rafting I decided it was time to move on and get a big boy job. I had become close with a gentlemen who raised discretionary funds for REIT’s and decided to call him and ask for advice. He ended up introducing me to one of the Orange County groups he had ties with where I ended up interviewing and landing a job in 2013. While I was initially involved with the fundraising side of real estate I have since moved over the principal side where I remain today.
What advice would you give to an emerging young leader just starting their professional career?
Keep an open mind and be willing to put yourself out there. When I was new and forced to start attending the many industry conferences, events, functions etc. I would get a little nervous at first. These events and the entire industry can be intimidating and awkward so I had to remind myself everyone was new at some point and the discomfort I was feeling was just growth and fairly normal. Having played sports my entire life I quickly related it to being young and constantly being pushed to improve. After a little trial and error I now look forward to these events and love meeting new people, it’s what keep the job so fresh. Also, outside of leaving the industry real estate tends to be like high school but you never graduate. Never burn bridges and always be conscious of all your colleagues. These are all the same people who will we will grow our careers with over the years.
What traits do you think define a successful leader?
Someone who has a clear vision coupled with intelligence and empathy. I have found the best leaders are also the ones who help other professionals from a mentor perspective. You can only keep what you give away.
What is your current job and what types of projects are you working on now?
Our shop is smaller so fortunately I get to work on a wide array of items. My current job is to support both the acquisitions and development team in any way necessary. Currently we own over 5,000 units in California and are under development on three projects totaling about 500 units. More recently I have been tasked with sourcing smaller deals in the greater Los Angeles area which has been both fun and challenging.
What do you find most challenging about your profession on a day-to-day basis?
Patience. Sometimes the deals I’m working on have taken years to put together and I forget that. I’m learning there’s a lot more to landing deals than simply calling up brokers or chasing listed ones.
What are you looking for in terms of career development – OR In what areas would you like to professionally develop further?
First off, now being tasked with sourcing deals continuing to build those relationships of owners, brokers, lenders, family offices, etc. is front and center. Learning how to form these relationships and continue to cultivate these soft skills is key for someone in my position. Another area of focus is on the development side regarding the entitlement, planning, construction and completion of these projects. I am learning how much effort it takes whether it be navigating local politics or overseeing the hundreds of thankless issues that inevitably seem to arise. I have a newfound appreciation of what it takes to buy raw land and complete a project in any asset class. Another area I hope to get more involved in are some of the lobbying efforts in the industry. A lot of times developers or real estate groups get a bad name but I don’t think the public understands how important and interconnected it is with the health of local, national, and global economies.
Describe a situation that was a great learning experience.
When I started at my current job I was sending out some companywide updates and our CEO had some follow-up questions for our partners. I told him I would “reach out” and “touch base” with them regarding his questions. Within minutes the reply all came and I was presented with a full Strunk and White, college level grammar and diction lesson on my verbiage. Apparently, he does not like redundant terms in email and it has become a funny companywide running joke.
How do you deal with stress at work?
Throw on a college football or sports podcast and take a lap around the office in fresh air. I realize that I’m a very small piece in a huge puzzle and can’t control much which is always humbling. I still consider myself one of the world’s best parallel parkers so if real estate ever goes really sideways I can always go back to being a bellman and skiing for a living.