Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A friend who has made a difference in the commercial real estate industry: Patricia Gibson

Patricia is a founding principal and CEO of Banner Oak Capital Partners. She oversees all investment activity and is responsible for establishing and implementing the firm’s strategic direction. Banner Oak was launched from its predecessor firm, Hunt Realty Investments, and focuses on value creation and capital preservation across market cycles with a unique focus on the active management of investments in real estate operating platforms.  The company oversees investments totaling over $2.5 billion in gross asset value with approximately $1 billion in committed capital.

Before founding Banner Oak, Patricia was the president of Hunt Realty Investments, where she led the commercial real estate investment management activities for the Hunt family of companies. She was responsible for the growth of an extensive and diverse portfolio of direct-owned strategic assets, along with operating companies and joint ventures totaling over $3 billion in gross asset value across the United States. During her tenure, she drove the growth of a strategic venture with a major pension fund dedicated to investments in real estate operating platforms, spanning a variety of product types and geographic locations.

Before joining Hunt, Ms. Gibson held senior positions at Goldman Sachs’ real estate subsidiary, where she oversaw portfolio management and the capital market efforts for over $4 billion in commercial real estate assets.

She began her real estate investment career in 1985 at The Travelers Realty Investment Company, where she spent nine years on the debt and equity side of the business.

Patricia is a member of the board of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers and previously served as its chairman.  She is vice chairman of the Industrial and Office Parks Council of ULI. She is a member of the executive council of the University of Texas Real Estate Finance Council and on the board of directors of The Real Estate Council of Dallas. She is on the board of directors of Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, a private investment company focused on energy and real estate. She is also a director of RLJ Lodging Trust. Patricia holds an MBA from the University of Connecticut and a BS in finance from Fairfield University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst. 

Pat and I met through industry events.  We’d see each other periodically and chatted about this that and the other thing.  When Pat was at Hunt Realty she became one of my early clients after starting my consulting business (this was before Liz Weiner and I got together and formed Felix / Weiner Consulting Group).  She and I got to know each other better when she was Chairman of NAREIM (National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers).  Pat has always been a class act.

Q. How did you get your start in commercial real estate?

A. I was finance major as an undergraduate, and had my sights on going into securities analysis. I was very interested in the investment space but was focused on equity securities and portfolio management.  However, I graduated in 1984 and given the recent recession, was happy to get a job offer from the real estate group of The Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford, CT.  I took that position thinking as soon as possible I was going to figure out a way to transition into securities analysis. The more I worked, the more I really started to enjoy the real estate process. I was learning a lot and noted that there were many different career directions one could take in the business and it just evolved from there.

From that start as a real estate analyst, I moved into a lending position - creating new commercial real estate loans in the mid ‘80’s. Travelers had a number of regional offices around the country and I was able to move, first to Washington, DC and ultimately to Dallas. There, as the market had shifted, I became involved in doing workouts of debt and equity situations that had gone awry. That’s where I learned the most about investment underwriting, assessing risk and perhaps most importantly, how to be creative and negotiate effectively.  I’ve enjoyed all aspects of the real estate investment world and found it to be extremely rewarding.

Q.  What advice would you give someone who has been in the commercial real estate industry for a few years or a student looking to get his or her start?

A.  Some generic advice for someone who is coming into the workplace, especially in an investment capacity, centers on becoming proficient at your job and making yourself indispensable.  Early on, you may be doing work without really knowing what it means or where it’s going.  Take a step back and try to understand the bigger picture and ask questions so you can be even more impactful. Try to use creativity to solve problems and bring solutions to the table.   Also important is making sure you continue to evolve your soft skills including effective communication and relationship building.  People do business with those they like and trust.  The most important advice would be that your reputation is your most valuable asset.  Never compromise your integrity.

Q.  As you look back on your career, is there anything you wished you had done differently?

A.  Earlier in my career I would have put more emphasis on networking. I was really more inwardly focused, and in retrospect, I would have more actively participated in industry events.   Real estate is a people business and relationships are critical. As I became more involved over time, I found it rewarding and developed many high quality relationships.  For the most part I wouldn’t change the path that I took. I feel very fortunate to have found a career that I enjoy and for which I am well suited. 

Q.  Who have been the major influences in your career and why?

A.  Early in my career, a gentleman named David Graves, who ultimately ran the real estate group at The Travelers. He became a bit of a mentor for me, pushing me out of my comfort zone and, helping me advance and get new experiences. It’s important to find those types of people over the course of your career.  Mentorship can be tricky and forced mentorships don’t usually work.  Instead, it can be very powerful when you naturally click with someone and they take an interest in you, allowing you to observe and learn from them.  David had a great personal style and charisma, and was talented in so many ways. I watched him and learned a lot from him throughout those early years.  Later in my career, Gene Sanger, who ran Hunt Realty Investments, was a great influence and created tremendous opportunities for me to advance my career. The ultimate result was the formation of Banner Oak Capital Partners where I am proud to work with an extraordinary team of individuals, who in addition to being very talented professionals, have the highest levels of integrity and are wonderful teammates.  We are fiercely protective and proud of our culture. My husband Jim has been with me every step of the way over the past 30+ years and his support has truly been invaluable.

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