By Alexandra Pacurar and IvyLee Rosario
Commercial Property Executive highlights the industry’s top 10 professionals under 40—innovators and natural leaders who are transforming their companies and making a mark in the real estate industry. Some have grown up in the business, while others developed a passion along the way. Ranging from entrepreneurs and architects to specialists working in development and financing, they have persevered to build successful business stories.
Douglas Green, 35
Managing Principal, MSC Retail
Joined the company in 2004
Having decided against law school, Douglas Green has transformed his passion for retail and restaurants into a career spanning 15 years. Still, his professional experience has made him an actively practicing expert witness in the field of retail leasing and an advisor on a variety of legal matters.
His clients in the hospitality business appreciate
his loyalty and genuine ability to “get” them—stemming, most likely, from his college years he working in restaurants. “Doug was always by our side, ready to dig in, bring the resources, connect us to the right people in the community and hustle to help us get it done. Every step of the way on that development was a grind, from negotiations to community boards and the actual construction of a small single-story building on Sansom,” Andrew McCaughan, vice president of development for Shake Shack, said of Douglas’ involvement in the opening of the chain’s first location in Philadelphia.
Initial market penetrations are actually one of the main directions of Green’s professional path so far. He counts securing &Pizza and SPiN’s first-to-market units in Philadelphia among his recent accomplishments, as well as coordinating Midwood Investment & Development’s new 60,000-square-foot, ground-up retail development.
MSC Retail’s managing principal is overseeing the company’s growth across all its service lines and plans an expansion on the West Coast in 2018, with an office in Los Angeles. He admits facing several challenges along the way, but credits company culture and values for overcoming them. “There are always going to be tempting opportunities to grow revenue that will come at the expense of your company’s culture. Especially at a time where we’re reinvesting so much back into the company, it is alluring to chase those opportunities for increased revenue. That said, I think we’ve done a good job of staying disciplined in how (and with whom) we grow,” Green said.
Had real estate not worked out, Green would not have considered law—instead he would probably own and run a brewery in a ski town, he conjectured. “Ski during the day and run the restaurant at night,” he suggested.
Where He Sees Himself Professionally in 10 Years: “Overseeing a diverse, impactful, thought-leading company that is making its imprint across the entire country and working alongside people who I genuinely like to spend time with and, most important, are way smarter than I am.”
Advice for the Next Generations: “Let your mind think creatively and take time to ideate. Ideas create value and seeing value, where others cannot means you will always be an integral part of a transaction or a company.” —A.P.
Steve Groetsema, 33
Partner, Midwest Region, Bridge Development Partners
Joined the company in 2007
There aren’t many people out there who can say their first job is their current job, but Steve Groetsema is among them. His real estate career actually began in his junior year of college, when he had the opportunity to intern at Marcus & Millichap. Although he loved the business, he quickly realized two things: He didn’t want to work as a broker and he wanted to join a smaller company.
Fast forward to his senior year at Illinois Wesleyan University, when his brother’s roommate introduced him to the two founding partners of Bridge Development. Upon graduation, he started work as a financial analyst for the company—recalling it as 12 months of fun, right before the recession hit. “We had 16 months of a down market, and there was no end in sight. We fought our way through it, because that’s really all we could do,” he said.
After surviving the crash, Groetsema continued his work as an analyst, making himself available whenever necessary. By mid-2012, he had assumed responsibility for managing Bridge’s entire Chicago portfolio, which encompassed leasing, dispositions and development. In late 2013, the company partnered with Hunt Realty Investments, thereby expanding its platform. From 2011 to 2015, Groetsema was instrumental in helping the company grow from just $40 million to $80 million worth of industrial projects a year to $1 billion annually in four core markets: Chicago, Miami, New Jersey and Los Angeles.
Although Bridge was rapidly becoming a success and Groetsema was made partner of the Midwest region, he still had plenty of adjusting to do. A former partner at Bridge told him that in order to get through the long days, he needed to find something to help clear his mind. Groetsema’s activity of choice? Cooking. “It’s been wildly therapeutic and is something that can completely take my mind off of work. On a sanity level, that’s the best piece of advice I’ve received throughout my career,” he admitted.
For 2018, Groetsema is concentrating on executing projects in his existing portfolio and growing the company’s new Seattle office.
What Others Say About Him: “There’s no roadmap or checklist to determine someone’s success, but he’s got the personality side to it and has the tremendous skill to see both sides of a deal,” observed Steve Roth, vice chairman of CBRE.
Where He Sees Himself in 10 Years: “I don’t think there’s a better job for me that’s along the lines of what I’m doing now. If I do ever make a change, then it’s going to be to a different side of the business, a new challenge for myself.” —I.R.
Patrick McGrath, 38
Senior Managing Director, Savills Studley
Joined the company in 2002
Patrick McGrath joined Studley in 2002 as a market and financial analyst, following his graduation from Emory University. He had always been close to the industry, as his family owns a property management business, and it was his uncle, a former Cushman & Wakefield employee, who told him about Studley. It took about a year for him to climb the ladder and move to the firm’s Philadelphia office as an associate. There, he successfully implemented a shared data and workflow management platform. His passion for technology and vision for the future have led his partners to describe him as an innovator.
McGrath had a key role in the creation of Knowledge3, working with artificial intelligence company LEVERTON on the revolutionary smart data platform, which provides visual analytics revealing the breadth of opportunity within an organization’s real estate portfolio. The product earned the 2017 H. Bruce Russell Global Innovator’s Award from CoreNet Global.
Currently, McGrath is also running the post-merger integration of Savills into Savills Studley. The process is a challenging one, and he admits accelerating it is tempting. “You just have to take one small step at a time and continue to sort of push forward and believe in the vision and the path that you’re heading down, and eventually people will come around,” he cautioned.
As a leader, McGrath is focused on identifying the most suitable role for each individual within the company, while aiming for authenticity in his own interactions. He also believes that taking risks, trying new things, being curious and asking for help are crucial for a successful career.
McGrath’s goals for 2018 include achieving more growth for the company, building its corporate account business off the back of Knowledge3 to help deliver global transactions. In the long run, he hopes to lead the company’s digital real estate services branch.
Mentors: Family (his uncle and mother), Michael Useem (professor of management at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania), the late Jacque Ducharme (vice chairman with Studley), Michael Colacino (president of Savills Studley) and Jeremy Helsby (CEO of Savills Group).
What Others Say About Him: “Patrick is an amazing professional who has a ‘get it done’ attitude. Most strategic partners would have taken months if not years to develop a relationship with LEVERTON, but Patrick is focused on execution and benefits for his clients, which he saw in our relationship. One of the best experiences we had with Patrick was when we gave him very short notice about presenting at MIT for the CoreNet Global Innovator’s Award. He immediately jumped on the opportunity,” observed Abhinav Somani, CEO of LEVERTON.
“He can take on any role, anywhere, and excel,” declared Mitchell Steir, chairman & CEO, Savills Studley. —A.P.
Meet the rest of CPE’s Stars to Watch for 2018, Part 1 and Part 3—commercial real estate’s top young talent.
You’ll find more on this topic in the March 2018 issue of CPE.