Friday, February 2, 2018

Robin Goodchild: A friend who has made a difference in the commercial real estate industry.

Robin recently retired from LaSalle Investment Management.  This is pre-retirement bio.

Robin is Head of LaSalle’s European Research and Strategy Team of 9 people who are responsible for the strategy for over €10 billion of property assets. His principal function is to identify opportunities in European property markets and to formulate strategies for investors to exploit those opportunities. He is also responsible for developing new ways to analyze markets and managing portfolios.

Dr. Goodchild has over 35 years’ real estate experience. He joined LaSalle in 1997 as Research Director, prior to which he was a partner at Gerald Eve, Chartered Surveyors for 12 years. He has been involved in property investment since 1985 and specializes in devising practical portfolio strategies that deliver the required returns and developing practical ways to analyze the risk profile of real estate portfolios. Dr. Goodchild has also been involved with the strategy for all of LaSalle’s European funds since joining the company.

Dr. Goodchild holds both Doctorate (1979) and Masters (1975) degrees in land Economy from the University of Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, honorary President of the Society of Property Researchers, a member of the scientific committee advising the first Professor of Real Estate at ESSEC, Paris, a trustee of the RICS Education Trust, a recipient of an Achievement Award from the European Real Estate Society, and is a frequent speaker at property conferences across Europe.

When I started traveling extensively in Europe in 2004 I met Robin, probably at an industry event.  He’s a very likable guy, with a dry sense of humor – like me – and we hit it off. Periodically we would catch up with each other and share stories of the road, oh, and of course, the global commercial real estate industry.  As I've traveled to London we've been able to catch up periodically.  He's not only a very smart guy, he's a down to earth person.  

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

A. I am a third generation property professional. My father so enjoyed his work that it was very easy to follow him, even if what I have done over my career is very different than him (and my grandfather).

My university education was designed to get me into commercial real estate and it worked. I started at Gerald Eve as a trainee surveyor in 1971. Four years later, having qualified as a chartered surveyor, I decided to return to university because I wanted to research the effects of a land tax policy that was then in force in the UK. It turned out that the benefits of commercial property research were just about to be realized and, by the time I finished my thesis, there were a number of opportunities to become a property researcher.

Q.  What advice would you give a younger person in the industry or a student looking to get started?

A. The real estate industry is highly people centric so work hard on your network. Also keep your technical skills as up-to-date as possible. You will need to be able to use all the latest gizmos throughout your career.

Q.  Looking back on your career, what would you have done differently?

A.  I have had two 20 - year careers, first at Gerald Eve and then with LaSalle. That wasn’t planned but everything worked out quite well, especially my time at LaSalle. I don’t regret, for a moment, not having worked in more organizations but am pleased that I didn’t stay in one place as might have happened.

Q.  Who have been the greatest influences on your professional career?  How?

A. Inevitably the surveyors I worked for and with at the start of my career at Gerald Eve. These were particularly Michael Hopper, Mike Beaman and Tony Taylor. My father, Gordon, was very important. From him I absorbed the ethical standards required from a professional before I even started my career.

More recently I have worked with some wonderful colleagues at LaSalle from whom I have learnt lots, notably Lynn Thurber (who always wants to know the ‘So What?’ of an interesting piece of research), Jacques Gordon, Gerry Blundell and Bryan Ellinthorpe.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A friend who has made a difference in the commercial real estate industry: Chris Merrill

Chris Merrill is the Co-Founder, President and CEO of Harrison Street Real Estate Capital, LLC, a real estate private equity firm he co-founded in 2005 that has completed over $19 billion in transactional volume and currently has over $13.7 billion in AUM.  He is also a Member of the firm’s Board of Directors and Chairman of the Investment & Management Committees.
The firm was an innovator and early adopter of a focused investment strategy around the Education, Healthcare and Storage segments of the real estate market. Investments have been made through a series of discretionary, commingled real estate funds, including an opportunistic closed end fund series (Funds I-VI), and an open-end real estate fund that collectively have raised over $10 billion in discretionary equity capital.  The firm’s global investors include U.S., European and Asian Pension Funds, Corporate Plans, Insurance Companies, Endowments, Foundations and family offices. Other firm platforms include two value-added funds targeting the European Student Housing market as well as a Real Estate Securities practice, which is developing a long/short strategy.  The firm has offices in Chicago and London.
Prior to co-founding Harrison Street, Mr. Merrill was a partner, owner and Managing Director of Heitman, a large U.S. Pension Fund Advisory firm where he developed the firm's presence in Europe, creating the first ever real estate funds exclusively targeting the markets of Central Europe.
Throughout his career, Chris has led the creation of a series of differentiated real estate products, which have acquired and/or developed over $23 billion of real estate in both the U.S. and Europe. Since 2000, he has led the launch and oversight of numerous distinct, discretionary real estate funds throughout the U.S. and Europe, raising over $14 billion in equity commitments. Chris has been active in many segments of the property markets, and has established and implemented over 100 joint ventures with real estate operating partners across the U.S. and Europe.
Chris has appeared in numerous real estate journals and speaking engagements regarding investing in the U.S. and Europe.  In recent years, National Real Estate Investor Magazine has named him one of the "10 To Watch" leaders in the industry, PERE nominated him as one of the top real estate executives in North America and Real Estate Forum named him one of “Chicago's Real Estate Icons.” Mr. Merrill was also featured in the 2016 Forbes Investment Guide.
Mr. Merrill is a member of the NAREIM Board of Directors, Pension Real Estate Association (PREA), The Real Estate Advisory Board of two Chicago based family offices (Gore Creek and Kinship Capital), The First Tee of Greater Chicago Board, The Economic Club of Chicago, the Chicago Commonwealth Club and the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).   Mr. Merrill earned his MBA in the evening from the CASS school of business in London, England.
When I was working on launching IREI’s business in Europe, starting in 2004, I began attending a number of European real estate events.  As some of you know, MIPIM is the largest such event held annually in Cannes, France.  Having known some Heitman people from the U.S., I was invited to stop by their ‘stand’ (aka ‘booth’).  Lewis Ingall, one of Heitman’s partners introduced me to Chris and we hit it off right away – he’s that kind of guy! He was the individual that built Heitman’s business in Europe and we have maintained contact ever since.  Chris is one of the deepest and most creative thinkers I know in the industry – it’s his DNA – as is evidenced by the success Harrison Street has enjoyed.

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

A.  I began my real estate career when I was 18 years old.  I was given a summer internship from Norman Perlmutter, who was the founder and Chairman of Heitman.  During college, I spent each summer working in a different division within the firm.  The first summer was in property management and leasing. Then I spent a summer in construction and engineering and finally a summer in the acquisitions business, where I was ultimately hired.  Norman gave me a shot and during that internship really allowed my fellow interns and myself to spend a lot of time participating in company-wide meetings.  It was a very hands-on internship. 

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

A. I spend a lot of time with the younger people at Harrison Street as well as others interested in a real estate career. The first and most foremost piece of advice is to be patient.  This is a business that requires experience; it requires you to do things over and over again.  Patience can contribute to a tremendous career. In contrast to other sectors such as technology where their peers may work, where things may be happening a little bit quicker.  It is also important to differentiate yourself within an organization.  Do you have international experience, a strong understanding of other asset classes, ideas related to new processes or other skills/ideas that make you unique?

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

A. First of all, I recognize that I have been extremely lucky. There are so many people that have helped me, and our firm, get to where it is today.  It is hard to think of anything I would have done differently. We hope to continue to build a unique platform by attracting strong talent and giving back to an industry, which had done so much for me, my team and our stakeholders.

Q.  Who have been major influences on your career and how/why?

A.  The fellow that immediately comes to mind, and I’m fortunate to be working with him today, is Chris Galvin.  Chris was the Chairman and CEO of Motorola, the business that his grandfather founded. He’s been my mentor since I was a teenager. He really helped shape how I think about business, how I think about values, and how I think about company culture. We created Harrison Street together. It’s been an honor to work with Chris, and understandably, it is very difficult to put my appreciation in words.      

Monday, January 29, 2018

In memory of Ed Garcia of Russell Investments

Ed Garcia passed away this morning (January 29, 2018). Ed was a Senior Portfolio Manager at Russell Investments.

Ed was a good guy, a straight-shooter and had a great sense of humor.

He was battling with some type of cancer for a number of years and put up a great fight.  Ed was a positive thinker, something I believe enabled him to put off the inevitable this long. 

Ed was an avid fisherman who loved the outdoors and loved life.

The last time I saw Ed was a couple of years ago in New York City.  He was in town for an industry event and myself and Greg Spick of UPS met up one evening.  Between Ed and Greg I hadn't laughed so much in a long time.  We hung out together for at least a couple of hours and, even though it would have been likely that we discussed 'the industry' we didn't: we talked about family, about things that we liked to do, about things that were more meaningful in our lives than work.  Rest assured there was some talk about what was going on in the industry, from the perspective of a pension fund investor, a pension fund consultant and me - but mostly about our lives.  

Ed and I had checked in with each other periodically. I had reached out to Ed by email last week and didn't hear back from him - not typical as he had always been very responsive.  I had a sinking feeling something had happened and reached out to a mutual friend to see if she had heard anything.  And then, just a few minutes ago, I received confirmation, from a former colleague or Ed's that something indeed did happen. The worst of all possible things had happened.  

I am sitting typing this and thinking that in May 2017 Ed wrote me that he was going to be in New York and did I have time to get together.  I was working with a client in North Carolina and would miss him that time - which, given the events, would have been the last time he and I would have caught up. In September I wrote to see if he would be at PREA in Chicago but he wasn't going to be there. 

This 'Recommendation' is on Ed's LinkedIn profile:
Ed is a tremendously thoughtful and insightful into the inner-workings of real estate investment management firms, their strategies, and the associated risk-adjusted opportunities for success.

Ed was at Russell for 22 and a half years.
The email from his former colleague this morning ended with this:  'He was courageous to the end. He was a gracious person who was always professional'. 

What a wonderful legacy.

Tough to say goodbye Ed!
Rest in peace my friend.

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