Developing Leaders Award Winners Share Career Advice

Winter 2021/2022 Issue
  • By:
  • Marie Ruff

Outstanding young NAIOP members reveal what’s helped them make their way in the industry.

Commercial real estate has always been an industry based on relationships — with NAIOP playing a key role in bringing the right people together. An example is NAIOP’s Developing Leaders program, which gives young professionals opportunities to learn from industry experts and build their networks. 

Each year, the Developing Leaders Award are given to the most outstanding emerging leaders, ages 35 and under, in the industry. They were honored in September during NAIOP’s CRE.Converge 2021 in Miami Beach, Florida, in recognition of their remarkable professional accomplishments, strong leadership and significant community involvement.

The recipients of this year’s Developing Leaders Award talked about the commercial real estate professionals who have supported their career growth and offered advice to NAIOP members who are just starting out.

Lindy Deller
Development Manager, 
Panattoni
NAIOP Northern Nevada

Lindy 

A person who has had a notable impact on your career:

“Our chapter executive director when I started in NAIOP, Randi Reed, has had the largest impact on my career. From the beginning of my career in CRE, Randi took me under her wing and introduced me to some of the largest players in our market, while also giving me great leadership and professional advice. With an in-depth knowledge of NAIOP and its benefits, Randi was able to ensure I had the same opportunities through NAIOP as she did. I am extremely grateful for her mentorship.”

Advice for Developing Leaders early in their careers:

“Get involved with one of your local NAIOP committees. It is the best opportunity to network with other motivated CRE professionals, and it presents opportunities to reach out to other members or potential members with whom you’d like to meet. If possible, take the lead on a few projects such as heading a government affairs effort or planning a unique event from start to finish. This will help you understand what’s involved and the process, making you a more effective leader.”

Marianna Hunnicutt, P.E., ENV SP
Civil Engineer/Practice Builder, 
Kimley-Horn
NAIOP Southern Nevada

Hunnicutt 

A person who has had a notable impact on your career: 

Jody Walker Belsick and Treasea Wolf, career-long business partners and accomplished practice builders with Kimley-Horn, have had a tremendous influence on my career. These two powerhouse women — talented, intelligent and intentional — believed in me, challenged me and have always been there to help pick me up when I stumbled. I came across an anonymous quote years ago: ‘It’s a rare person who can take care of hearts while also taking care of business.’ This defines the example of servant leadership Jody and Treasea embody, and that which I aspire to carry on.”

Advice for Developing Leaders early in their careers:

“Get out of your comfort zones — that is where all the magic happens! Sure, it’s scary, risky or maybe a bit (or a lot!) awkward. However, it’s all about the journey, and these moments are incredibly powerful building blocks toward something great. I’m a firm believer we each have the responsibility to take charge and accountability of our destiny. So go for it and empower those around you to do the same!”

Andrew Hunt
Director, Center for Real Estate, 
Marquette University
NAIOP Wisconsin

Hunt 

A person who has had a notable impact on your career: 

“Two people stand out: first, Larry Pobuda, who was the 2010 NAIOP chair, hired me as a summer intern in 2007 and paid for my first NAIOP membership. He’s been a wonderful mentor over the years, and he changed my life by exposing me to this great organization. Second, Mark Eppli, Ph.D., who was my undergrad advisor and hired me twice at Marquette, was instrumental in helping me learn how I could impact the real estate industry by using this platform at Marquette. I am deeply indebted to both men.”

Advice for Developing Leaders early in their careers:

“Maybe more than anything else, you need to be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to grow. This is especially true early in your career. That could mean attending a networking event where you don’t know anyone, joining a committee with people more seasoned than you, saying yes to projects at work that stretch your experience, and so much more. You cannot expect to get ahead without being willing to learn, and you learn by saying yes to things that might scare you.”

Alexandra Stoelzle
Director of Development 
BCG Holdings LLC
NAIOP Utah; NAIOP San Francisco

Alexandra 

A person who has had a notable impact on your career: 

Dennis Williams, two-time president of the NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area chapter, has been an unwavering mentor throughout my career in commercial real estate. Since I was a student in his MBA Real Estate Development course at UC Berkeley, he has supported my career aspirations and helped me expand my breadth and depth within the industry. He has been the catalyst for my involvement in several NAIOP programs, but also other organizations such as the Berkeley Real Estate Alumni Association and Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, both non-profit organizations for which I currently hold board chair positions. Dennis’ passion for fostering the personal and career development of young leaders in the industry is unmatched, and I feel lucky and honored to call him a mentor.”

Advice for Developing Leaders early in their careers:

“Don’t underestimate the power of relationships and continuous learning. No matter your specialty — acquisitions, development, marketing, finance — real estate is, and will always be, a people business. Utilize platforms like NAIOP that offer networking and career-building opportunities. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter offers a Young Professionals Group, which is a year-long program that gives Developing Leaders the opportunity to build relationships with their peers, as well as learn from and find mentors among the seasoned professionals who teach each course. The world is small, but the world of real estate is even smaller. Your network is everything.”

Marie Ruff

Marie Ruff

Marie Ruff is a communications senior manager with NAIOP.