I am pleased to be able to publish my first Career Spotlight. Developing commercial real estate is something I didn't know anything about until this afternoon.
My interview subject is my cousin James -- one of my 5,000 or so cousins in Georgia and South Carolina. James doesn't like to be tied down to a desk any more than Michael would so this might be a good career for Michael, if he will get at least a bachelor's in business. James travels all the time, and Michael likes to travel...
1. What do you do?
My job is go out and find sites to develop. My territory is Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, a little bit of Alabama. I just picked up West Texas. I find areas where the client wants to locate and then I go in and find a property and negotiate the purchase of the property. Once we get the contract we submit a budget to the client and then hopefully move forward with the building.
2. How long have you been doing this?
Out of college I moved to Savannah and worked for an environmental consulting firm doing permitting for developers. From there I started a brokerage company, brokering land transactions while still doing some consulting. I got a masters in real estate development. Then I moved to Atlanta.
3. What made you choose this as a career?
I knew I wanted to do something with real estate. When I got my first job I realized the development end of it was more lucrative.
4. What type of schooling or training did you need to do your job?
I majored in forestry and minored in business as an undergrad. The masters is definitely a bonus. It’s probably one of those degrees that is so concentrated it can’t do anything but benefit you long term. It helped me, definitely, because when I was looking for jobs I was able to get my foot in the door with some folks I probably couldn’t have gotten before I got the master's.
5. Describe some of the typical activities you do every day.
I negotiate contracts, find properties, and I oversee construction. I was touring a mixed use project in downtown Athens today. Bottom floor is retail and top 5 floors are apartments.
6. What is your favorite part about this job?
No day is the same. It’s always something new. I get to deal with a variety of folks.
7. What is your least favorite part of the job?
Schedules, timing. Time is my enemy. Sometimes due to weather or unforeseen circumstances we get behind with projects.
8. What would you say to a young person contemplating this career?
Do what you love.
9. If you had it to do all over again would you still choose this career?
10. How do you see this career changing [if any] in the next ten years?
The nature of the business is traveling. I would like to do more projects and grow my portfolio. We have a stable client roster but I’m always trying to get new business. If I’m driving around and I see something, a piece of property, and it looks promising, I can look up tax records and contact the owner.
11. What’s the best career advice anyone ever gave you?
Find something you love. Do it. Learn the business and grow with it.