Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A friend who has made a difference in the commercial real estate industry: Joyce Shapiro

Joyce Shapiro has managed institutional grade multi-asset portfolios, established restructuring groups, ran business development teams, and developed the rationale, research, and teams to rollout pioneering investment products.  For twenty-five years, on behalf of global premier financial institutions, she has held senior positions within the hard asset investment management sector at Brookfield Asset Management, LaSalle Investment Management, Franklin Templeton, The Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, Citibank, JP Morgan Investment Management, and RREEF.
Over her career, she has lived and worked globally, managing assets and people, created innovative investment products, developed the policies and procedures to successfully adapt an investment platform into a global asset manager.  As an asset manager, she handled US $4 billion in portfolios.  Furthermore, she restructured a portfolio of US $30 billion in diverse, failed-asset obligations.  She participated in the development of new investment products on behalf of equity exceeding $14 billion.  
Currently she is developing an investment platform, incorporating best practices from her premier employers, however now focusing on small sized assets, on behalf of non-institutional investors.  She also developed and is teaching a Global Portfolio Development class for a masters’ program at NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate and designed a curriculum for real estate finance in Japan.  

Joyce and I met during my years with IREI - LaSalle Investment Management was one of my clients. Through that relationship I got to know Lynn Thurber, then Global CEO and now Chairman of LaSalle and other members of that great team. One of the folks was Joyce.  When you meet Joyce for the first time you can’t help but smile…because she is always smiling!  As we got to know each other we were surprised that our paths hadn’t crossed before.  That was a number of years back, before she was promoted to Global Head of Capital Raising and Investors Relations.  Over the years we’ve become good friends and have acted as advisors to each other as the twists and turns of life and career evolve.  

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

A.  Property management - learning about the business of real estate directly from building operations.  Responding to what is now an anachronism, an ad in the New York Times. I convinced someone that I had all of the skills, yet not the direct experience, necessary to manage office buildings in Manhattan. The building, 130 West 42nd Street, then known as The Wurlitzer Building (now Bush Tower), was my first assignment. Included in my portfolio was also the building that housed the famous music / restaurant venue Max’s Kansas City (think Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin)!  After two years of figuring things out, I intentionally sought a more institutional approach to the real estate business and landed at RREEF, as part of their first management team on the East coast. I can recall picking up Claude Rosenberg (the first R in RREEF) from the airport and being grilled by him about my valuation of an industrial portfolio in Hauppauge, New York (Long Island).

I took one more detour back to direct management, when the then owner of The Chrysler Building, the charismatic Jack Kent Cooke (a Canadian entrepreneur and former owner of the Washington Redskins, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings) asked me to manage The Chrysler Building and what was then known as The Kent Building (now simply 666 Third Avenue).  All of 24 years old, I felt I had some flexibility in timing and decided to take on the challenge of managing one of the world’s iconic and in my humble opinion, most beautiful buildings in the world.  It was the right decision for me, as I met my husband, Joshua in what was The Cloud Club, a then defunct men’s club on the 66th-68th floors of The Chrysler Building, when we held an art deco marketing event in the clouds!

From that point forward I worked for financial institutions, assuming various roles in the real estate investment management industry: JP Morgan Asset Management, Citibank, LaSalle Investment Management, Brookfield Asset Management were the places where I was most likely to be found during my adult life.  

My initial role in the institutional real estate world was as an asset manager. I have survived three downturns in our marketplace.  About a decade of my life was spent restructuring debt, partnerships and repositioning assets around the world.  I moved to Japan in the early 1990s and set up a restructuring division in Tokyo and Sydney for a then very large Japanese bank, The Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, learning to see our business from a very different and very global vantage point was one of my most rewarding experiences

Lynn Thurber (now Chairman of LaSalle Investment Management) asked me to consider taking on a capital-raising role.  I was reluctant at first, as I truly believed being close to the properties was critical to the investment process.  I did make the transition, with a lot of great support from LaSalle and my colleagues like Alan Braxton, whom I miss dearly.  Well, Lynn was right, I loved capital raising and fund product development. I incorporated an asset approach, making certain I reviewed prospective acquisition underwritings, attended investment committee meetings, and developed business plans for our initiatives around the globe. Ultimately it was an ideal way of gaining a much more expansive and inclusive role in the business while also having a broader reach into a much larger portfolio of assets.  

Q.  What advice would you give to someone who has been in the industry for a short time or a student looking to get his or her start?

A.  I teach a course on global portfolio development at New York University (NYU).  I believe one must look beyond one’s direct assignments and incorporate the bigger picture of the economy, the organization you work for and all of the goals and objectives of your constituents – primarily your investors.  Thinking as a business leader creates leadership opportunities.  In my class I make certain to incorporate that into the class materials the “Business of Real Estate Investment Management.”  

Q.  As you look back on your career, is there anything you wish you had done differently?  If so, what?

A.  I have learned that not every company suits every individual.  Companies have personalities and finding the right organization and working with people who are compatible with your style and ethics, how you believe business should be done is, to my mind, the number one consideration.  Having said that I was extremely fortunate to have found groups, which gave me the opportunity to excel. Finding the right environment is not always easy. When a situation doesn't provide the right fit, sometimes the best solution is to move on.  

Q.  Who have been influences in your career? How? Why?

A.  I have been very fortunate to have worked with many intelligent, thoughtful and supportive people.  There are a group of women who stand out as the kind of leaders focused on bringing out the best from the people who are in their spheres.  These leaders encouraged me to reach far beyond what I thought I was capable of achieving.  

The real estate "goddesses" were looking out for me when they cleared the path for me to work for Lynn Thurber at LaSalle Investment Management and Pat Goldstein at Citibank. I also had the privilege of having the late Alice Connell, from TIAA-CREF and Marjorie Tsang from New York State Common Retirement System, as clients.

They all encouraged me by example.  Setting standards of excellence for themselves, working hard and smart, while maintaining the highest levels of integrity.

Lynn’s keen intellect made me reconsider and question my work, with her framework of principled investing, preparation and client concern. Pat was a very driven and smart investor and manager and a brilliant strategist.  Marjorie brought out the best in her managers, as she too set very high standards of both business acumen and ethical behavior.  

Alice was a wonderful mentor to many women. She was relentless in her pursuit of knowledge and education, inspiring us all to go the extra mile, but always with her witty sense of humor. 

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