NAIOP Members

Explore NAIOP members’ views on getting started in the industry, advancing in CRE and thriving with NAIOP.

Leonard Burke

Leonard Burke

Senior Asset Manager, Tampa Housing Authority

Tampa, Florida

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?
Don’t try to be someone you are not. It is so easy to change who you are as a person and the things you value in an effort to try and fit in with your surroundings. You can let you insecurities of being new or different drive you to take on a persona that really isn’t who you are. If you aren’t a jock, then don’t try to be one in a crowd. If you strive to be a faithful husband or boyfriend, then don’t pretend to be a Casanova to appease the older professionals you interact with. Don’t be so desperate trying to be accepted or not have your cover blown for being a newbie in commercial real estate, that you lose yourself in the process. Be honest about your lack of expertise, read many books (not just on commercial real estate but on personal character development), ask questions and be patient. Don’t get trapped in being driven by monetary gain but strive to leave a legacy behind by given back and making a positive impact on the people around you.

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
I am still trying to figure this one out. What NAIOP has done is opened my eyes up on events occurring in the market from a governmental stand point to increase activity in CRE.

Romit S. Cheema

Romit S. Cheema

Real Estate Partner, Platt Cheema Richmond, PLLC Law Firm, and Principal at CanTex Capital

Dallas, Texas

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?

  1. The importance of networking.  Start building relationships and contacts with your peer group – many will continue in CRE and will be your most useful assets in the future. You never know what doors your network will open.
  2. Find good mentors and stay in touch with them. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
It has provided an opportunity to network with folks in every area of CRE and those I might not have otherwise met. It has provided a forum to build strong relationships through a variety of different events, functions and seminars.

Who or what has influenced you most in your professional life?
My father. He started his real estate career as a real estate agent managing and buying small single family rental homes and now has amassed a large commercial real estate portfolio. He has shown me that with hard work, dedication, humility and always acting with the upmost integrity, anything is possible.

Andrew Garrett

Andrew Garrett

Director, Development | Real Estate Development Portfolio, The Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd.

Toronto, Ontario

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?
Success begins with following up and keeping an open mind about opportunities. Lots of people consider one coffee chat effective networking. However, if you want to develop strong industry relationships you need to follow up with people.

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
As a manager the greatest benefit to me has been being able to refer my analyst team to Developing Leaders events. It accelerates their career development and performance due to the learning and networking opportunities they get. The better the perform and get promoted at Cadillac Fairview, the better it reflects on my leadership development.

Tiffany Greenridge

Tiffany Greenidge

Marketing Account Executive, Empire State Realty Trust

New York, New York

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?
I would advise someone starting out in CRE to build relationships by networking. A big part of this industry is about making connections with people you meet throughout your career. Don’t be intimidated because you don’t have the experience and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. I’ve learned that seasoned CRE professionals enjoy sharing their career path and giving advice.

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
NAIOP has helped me advance my career by allowing me the meet with CRE professional at all levels.

Maurice Hillman

Maurice Hillman

CRE Leasing and Sales Associate, DRK and Company Realtors

Westerville, Ohio

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?

  • Learn as much information about the market as possible
  • Listen and take notes (purchase an mini note pad and carry it with you 24/7)
  • Get a Mentor/Coach in the industry
  • Never make a promise you cannot deliver on

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?

  • Education, attending NAIOP functions and seminars
  • Keeps me updated on the activity in the market
  • Allows me to meet and network with the experts in the market
  • Mentoring Program for Developing Leaders

Who or what has influenced you most in your professional life?

  • Who: My family members
  • What: REAP Columbus (Real Estate Associates Program)

Joe Nuñez

Joe Nuñez

Attorney & Partner, Vantage Law Group, PLLC

Minneapolis, Minnesota

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?
Do your homework, understand as much as you can about the deal/opportunity in front of you or your industry area, and appreciate (and be honest about) the things you don’t know. One of a person’s greatest attributes is the ability to know what they don’t know (as well as where to find the answer). The last thing you want is a reputation as being a b-s artist who won’t admit to not knowing something.

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
NAIOP has provided access to resources – both people and information – and wonderful networking opportunities. NAIOP also does the leg work on governmental issues that are important to the industry and the work we do, issues that would be impossible for any one member to track.

Who or what has influenced you most in your professional life?
A number of people – mentors and otherwise – who maintain perspective, are respectful to how they treat others (no matter where on the “food chain” other people may be) and who appreciate that success is not always measured simply by the number of deals closed.

Chris Pearson

Chris Pearson

Senior Project Manager | Development, Hudson Pacific Properties, Inc.

Los Angeles, California

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?
Most people decide to go into commercial real estate because they are familiar with one side of the business, I think exposing yourself to all sides of the business from leasing and acquisitions to development and management will give people a larger understanding of how they fit in the bigger picture and provide an opportunity for future avenues within the industry. Knowing too much is never the problem when it comes to real estate

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
NAIOP is an important conduit for me to unique networking opportunities, meeting people throughout the industry and in the market has been extremely helpful in fostering business development opportunities and expanding my knowledge base. I’ve also been able to take advantage the Young Professional’s Group which has provided me a deeper insight into myself both personally and professionally.

Who or what has influenced you most in your professional life?
The primary influencer has been the actual work, seeing the end result of a new development and knowing it will live for years to come is incredible satisfying. The other big influencers are past and present colleagues who have trusted my skill set enough to give me the confidence to keep pushing to achieve.

Gabe Philibert

Gabe Philibert

Senior Vice President — Business Banking, Bell State Bank & Trust

Minneapolis, Minnesota

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?

  • Ask lots of questions. Your employer won't expect you to know it all day one but they will expect you to continue to want to learn your trade.
  • Find a mentor outside of your firm. The more you can learn about the industry, the more value you can provide your clients (and your firm).
  • Give back. Even as ‘rookie’ in the CRE industry, your contributions can be invaluable.

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
NAIOP has provided me the ability to build life long relationships with quality individuals within the industry, which I may not have made if I wasn't a part of NAIOP. Then as a result, I have then been fortunate enough to have those relationships play a part in advancing my career.

Samantha Root

Samantha Root

Director of Strategic Planning, Oranje

Phoenix, Arizona

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?
The best advice I can give is actively participate in an association that you can believe in. One that has similar values and makes you feel like you want to dig in and get active! Seek some of the senior in experience professionals there, ask them for coffee or lunch and learn from them! Ask them if they would mentor you once a month and come prepared for those meetings. You will learn so much and you would be shocked how many people are willing and able to help teach you the ropes. I have learned from some of the best and made great friendships this way too!

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
I am newer to NAIOP but this was a great stepping stone for me in a sense that I am surrounding myself with industry professionals many of which I don’t see or network with in other associations I belong to. This allows me to push my career further and learn even more things! There is a HUGE passion for educating their members and that is something that fires me up! There is no price tag to the power of education. NAIOP does a fantastic job of creating events and forums with intention to connect their people to each other. I feel there is a healthy balance of professionals and I have yet to meet one person who has not been friendly or welcoming.

Who or what has influenced you most in your professional life?
Surrounding myself with other passionate people! Honestly, I have so many people I have been blessed in being surrounded with and placed under their wings through my career that I can’t list them all. I will say however, that having supportive bosses that believe in relationship building and believe in following your purpose and dreams makes all the difference! Keeping myself in close proximity of commercial professionals that believe in the power of education and constant self improvement is also a great benefit I have reaped much success from.

Nick Sanchez

Nick Sanchez

Vice President | Senior Commercial Real Estate Loan Officer, Zions Bank | Real Estate Banking Group

Salt Lake City, Utah

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?
There are two important keys to be successful in CRE:

  1. Be prepared for change! The only constant in today’s CRE world is change - changing markets, changing legislation, and changing attitudes toward CRE in general.
  2. Network! The vast majority of all CRE deals involve interacting with multiple people in the process. The more close contacts you have, the better. The CRE world may seem large and insurmountable, but on a local basis, you will find that it is quite a small world.

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
NAIOP has helped advance my career in CRE by allowing me to attend important networking events to which I wouldn’t otherwise have been privy. These networking events allow me to make key connections to a large number of important players in the CRE market.

Who or what has influenced you most in your professional life?
My professional life has been most influenced by the people with which I surround myself. It may sound cliché, but, surrounding myself with successful individuals has proven to make me strive for a higher level of excellence. Additionally, I have found that staying abreast of changing market conditions and studying market trends has been an important factor in always having a say in any conversation.

Reardon Sullivan

Reardon Sullivan

Owner, WFT Engineering

Rockville, Maryland

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?
Learn the basics of the business from financing to construction, engineering design… become a sponge and soak up as much as you can as fast as you can to water your tree of knowledge … Don’t be afraid to ask questions!!

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
The ability to meet, network and learn from a wide range of professionals.

Mandi Thorn

Mandi Thorn

Assistant Vice President — Construction and Maintenance, Harsch Investment Properties

Las Vegas, Nevada

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?
Be Passionate. To be a success you must be passionate about what you do. You need to be motivated and driven to be the best you can be regardless of your job or your work. It is that passion that will force you to push yourself harder, ask more questions, get more involved, become more successful.

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
The relationships I have formed being a member of NAIOP have become vital to my career. I can pickup the phone and call any municipality, utility, engineer or contractor and reach someone who I either met at a NAIOP function or through a colleague at NAIOP.

Joeann E. Walker

Joeann E. Walker

Associate, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP

New York, New York

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?
My advice would be the following: bring a FRESH perspective, stay FOCUS, and FIND new opportunities.

FRESH: You must be able to bring a fresh perspective to transactions and procedures that may seem mundane and repetitive.

FOCUS: You need to stay focused on your client’s needs including really listening to your client and noticing important details in the market place that might affect your client’s interests, and have important consequences.

FIND: You need to position yourself to find new business opportunities. To do this, you need to be aware of changing market conditions in CRE. Changes in the regulatory environment, sources of debt and equity, and different stakeholders lead to evolving structures for development and transactions. To develop your business and to provide effective services to your client, stay on top of industry press, get out to CRE events, and don’t be afraid to get lost in some of the records you have available to you.

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
NAIOP has helped in advancing my career in CRE by providing me with a platform to further network and develop business. I have also been able to advance my education in the area of CRE.

Duke Wang

Duke Wang

Licensed Commercial Broker, Pacific Real Estate Services

Eugene, Oregon

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?
Get your name out in the community though events. Then create a list of the people you make. Then make templates of everything (agreements, LOIs, analysis, emails, etc…)

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?
The connections I’ve made and the influence this organization has nationally has promoted my business and expanded my network.

Who or what has influenced you most in your professional life?
John and Kathy Plume who have and continue to be my lifelong mentors in life.

Raymond Wong

Raymond Wong

Managing Director & Chief Operating Officer, CBRE Limited | Americas Research

Toronto, Ontario

My Perspective

What advice would you give to someone starting out in CRE?

  • Learn as much as the industry as possible (Read, speaking with leaders, seminars)
  • Listen
  • Get a Mentor/Coach in the industry
  • Work hard, don’t be afraid to stretch
  • Listen

How has NAIOP advanced your career in CRE?

  • Wide Network of People/Professionals
  • Education, attending NAIOP functions and seminars, learn from the experts
  • Mentoring Program
  • Special Education Courses Offered

Cushman Wakefield City of St Albert