This post was written by Dan Jackson, a 2012 UST MBA graduate. Dan completed many of his electives in real estate including participation in the spring 2012 REAL 714 International Real Estate Development course in the Cayman Islands.
A trip up 1,000 feet in North America’s fastest elevators and 360 degree views of Lake Michigan, the Magnificent Mile, the rest of Chicagoland and Las Vegas are just a few things that Class of 2005 alumnus, Ben Bastian, states as his most memorable experience at the University of St. Thomas (UST). He took the trip as a member of the UST Real Estate Club. “During my undergraduate experience, collaboration between the CBRE offices in Minneapolis and UST started. Through the Real Estate Club, we planned a trip to Chicago that focused on touring and learning more about various properties in the Chicago central business district (CBD). We toured a couple properties; the most recognizable property was the John Hancock Tower. What was even more amazing about this trip was that we were able to venture out onto the roof of the Hancock building to enjoy the view,” stated Bastian. Ben adds, “Another memorable experience was a trip to Las Vegas that was partly funded by the winning proceeds from the Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP) University Challenge. Similar to the Chicago trip, we were able to tour local office buildings, including the Bellagio.”
Currently, Ben is a Production Analyst with the Minneapolis Debt & Equity Finance team within the Capital Markets Group at CBRE. He has been in his position at CBRE for seven months, and previously was an analyst in investment sales at Cushman & Wakefield. When asked to describe his typical work day, Ben stated, “I work a lot with numbers and perform financial analysis on prospective and current deals; I use Argus for financial modeling on most properties. Other things that take place in my day include – property tours with lenders, meetings with attorneys, prospective clients and conversations with lenders to market our current assignments.” He continues to explain, “In a typical day I am dealing with clients who may have a property under contract to purchase or they are looking to refinance a property that they own. Our primary goal is to be able to analyze the property, which involves determining the value, figuring out what elements are driving the value and taking this information to the market after thorough research has been completed. All of this information is presented in a financing request package to the lenders to obtain their feedback about whether or not they want to make a loan on the property.”
Mr. Bastian is most satisfied with his position when he is able to ensure that the needs, wants and desires of the client are satisfied. “It is satisfying to get financing completed for clients. I enjoy the job because I am able to provide financing to someone to allow for the purchase a property. Without my team’s assistance, they wouldn’t have the structure to meet the required return for themselves or for their investors,” stated Ben. “I also enjoy the fact that every day is different and includes a variety of activities from networking, and building tours, to analysis and lender calls. The position also requires a lot of problem solving skills. Each one of your clients comes to you with a problem, and it is your job to help them figure out how to solve that problem,” he added.
Reflecting on his experience at St. Thomas, Bastian thought about different career paths before deciding to pursue real estate. [In my undergraduate studies] “I knew that I enjoyed and was good in math. I thought about finance or business, but also had interest in the sciences. At the time, I personally enjoyed real estate more than stocks or other forms of financial investments, so it fit me well.” I wanted a career path that I could personally connect with, and felt that real estate provided that outlet. Real estate is something that you can see, touch and feel… it’s very tangible. The field of real estate would also allow me to apply my math skills to a profession in which I had interest.
Ben also had professionals who he admired and who played an instrumental role in helping him get involved with real estate. “During my junior year in college, Terry Kingston, Executive Director of the Capital Markets group at Cushman & Wakefield came to speak to the UST Real Estate Club about investment sales. I remember being really excited after hearing the talk by Kingston and stayed in contact with him after the session was over. This relationship eventually led me to my first position, working under Terry, in 2005 in the Investment Sales division at Cushman & Wakefield,” said Bastian.
At the time when Ben was working in investment sales, he was attracted to this area because of the analytical and negotiating skills needed and his hopes of selling trophy properties. After working as an investment sales analyst for a number of years, he transitioned to another area of capital markets, commercial lending at CBRE Capital Markets. In his current role, he has the chance to help finance properties of all sizes and product types. He is still able to deal with trophy properties, but from a different perspective. “I have gone from selling commercial properties to financing those buildings,” comments Bastian.
Looking ahead towards the future, Ben would like to continue to develop and grow within the CBRE platform, more specifically with the Debt & Equity Finance group. He sees himself taking on an active role with more responsibilities and involvement in deals. He also hopes to continue to leverage relationships while being able to add value to the company through the contributions of his ideas. Finally, down the road, he would like to explore and get into the ownership of commercial property.
Ben is thankful for about his experience at St. Thomas and offers the following advice for future real estate students:
- Focus on following up, on a regular basis, with contacts that you meet because you never know when those contacts can help you and vice versa.
- Seek out an internship (if not two) during your academic experience.
- Get involved with the industry groups/associations, such as: NAIOP, MNCAR, BOMA as well as the UST Real Estate Advisory Council (REAC).
- Take advantage of the alumni network in the Twin Cities, and be sure to set-up informational interviews.
- Always present yourself in a professional manner (appearance included). You want to make your first impression a great one when meeting other professionals because they will remember you down the road when seeking out work opportunities.
Ben has had many great successes early on in his career within the real estate industry. He is excited about what the future brings and continues to be involved at a variety of levels. Outside of the job, Ben finds satisfaction with his eight-week old daughter, staying active and the outdoors. At the same time, he has maintained a high level of involvement in UST real estate activities. He was UST REAC president in 2009 and has also held the positions of past vice president and treasurer for the group. Ben was treasurer of the Real Estate Club during his senior year at St. Thomas. Today, he continues to play an active role with the NAIOP Developing Leaders and the UST REAC. Congratulations to Ben on his many achievements!