Welcome to Good Dirt: Conversations with Leaders in Real Estate & Beyond - interviews with some of the most interesting and respected players in the commercial real estate industry, with a focus on investors, developers, and equity allocators that are shaping the built world around us. Hosted by Mike Greeley and Tom Greeley, brothers and teammates within the Newmark capital markets platform.
Because the real estate industry is hyper-connected to all sectors of commerce, we will also regularly be hosting friends from “beyond the business”, including luminaries from the private equity and venture capital arenas all the way to restauranteurs, consumer retail entrepreneurs, tech founders and a few politicians.
We look forward to bringing you discussions that profile our guests’ career journeys, investment strategies, building and growing of their businesses and thoughts on current market opportunities, and we’ll also delve into human interest topics, non-work pursuits, daily routines, and (perhaps most importantly) giving back. Join us as we learn from the industry’s best and brightest and have a few laughs along the way!
We hope these discussions will be noteworthy for plenty of people beyond our reach, so please share with friends, colleagues, and clients if an episode is especially topical. We also hope you’ll consider sharing this podcast with aspiring commercial real estate professionals, as each episode will be a case study on its own and in the aggregate, a crash course in this dynamic industry.
Peter Palandjian - Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation
Peter Palandjian is Chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation, an SEC-registered real estate investment manager with a portfolio of over 36 million square feet across 155 properties, over 15,000 multifamily units and current NAV of $10 billion+ and GAV $14 billion+. Peter oversees the affiliated Intercontinental operating companies, with primary responsibility for strategic planning and direction of all company activities. Intercontinental’s sole strategy it its flagship vehicle, United States Real Estate Investment Fund (“U.S. REIF”), currently the 7th-largest member of the NCREIF ODCE fund index (Open-Ended Diversified Core Equity).
Prior to joining Intercontinental in 1993, Mr. Palandjian worked as the assistant to the CEO of Staples, Inc. and as an Associate Consultant with Bain & Company. Mr. Palandjian holds memberships with the Pension Real Estate Association (PREA); the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP); and the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM). Mr. Palandjian has also been active on a number of corporate and not-for-profit boards, presently serving as a board member of several institutions including: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, O’Neill & Associates, Leader Bank, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (“LAANE”), Mikva Challenge, Harvard’s Varsity Club, the Taubman Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and the Purple Heart Service Foundation. Mr. Palandjian is also Trustee Emeritus at The Fessenden School and works on behalf of Harvard University as a volunteer undergraduate admissions interviewer.
Peter earned his B.A. from Harvard University and M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and was a two-time Harvard tennis Captain and world ranked player on the ATP tour.
Our conversation with Peter begins with a discussion about his family, including his Armenian-Irish heritage and upbringing in Belmont, Mass. The family business, then known as Continental Construction, was started by his father who emigrated from Armenia with an accordion and $500 in his pocket. We pressed Peter on his illustrious tennis career, which he humbly described as a “journeyman” career but from which he took the tenets of resilience and rigorous effort into the real estate industry.
Peter shares with us his time at Bain & Company, Staples Inc. and Harvard Business School, as well his entry into the real estate business alongside his father, who had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. A leadership transition occurred ahead of schedule, as Petros A. Palandjian’s health deteriorated and his cancer became terminal, and Peter was thrust into a tumultuous chapter involving numerous partnerships to unwind in a difficult market.
We then dive into the tremendous growth of Intercontinental, with a focus on the evolution of its core business from fully integrated services and investment partnerships to private equity real estate, structured in fund-based investment management services. In 1999, Intercontinental became an SEC-registered Investment Advisor, clearing the path for a prolific but disciplined rise as a manager of institutional capital. Peter shares with us lessons learned along the way, including the early days of raising institutional money and the firm’s leadership in both private and public pension fund capital management. While Intercontinental is a household name in New England real estate circles, its national prominence is perhaps lesser known to Boston market participants.
Peter was refreshingly candid, speaking openly about a few “bloopers”, life and deal lessons along the way, the importance of culture and teamwork at Intercontinental, and much more. He defers credit to his teammates and more than once references the “family” at Intercontinental. Of course, we also take Peter’s...
Jessica Hughes - Tishman Speyer
Jessica Hughes joined Tishman Speyer in 2018 and is currently responsible for the company’s operations in the Boston region including acquisitions, dispositions, asset management, and development. She joined Tishman Speyer from JLL, where she was a Managing Director in the Boston Capital Markets group and a member of JLL’s International Capital Group. Previously, she was a Senior Vice President at Beacon Capital Partners, responsible for acquisitions and dispositions in major U.S. markets, as well as establishing Beacon’s offshore offices in London and Paris. Jessica has a BA in History from Dartmouth College, where she captained the women’s golf team. Having served as President of NAIOP Massachusetts in 2022, she currently serves as Board Chair for the organization. Jess also serves as a board member at the Boston Center for the Arts and is an active participant in many regional charitable endeavors.
Our conversation with Jess begins in her hometown of Lowell, Mass where she had early exposure to the economic development activities and related real estate development which were pushing the city forward. Excelling as a student and as a golfer, Jess shares with us the circumstances around a serendipitous corporate recruiting visit which introduced her to an executive involved in the historic Grand Central Terminal redevelopment project. Jess secured a job with LaSalle Partners in New York working on the final ‘punch list’ of Grand Central- an iconic project at the time that inspires her (and us) to this day.
From there Jess shifted into an analyst role on the capital markets/ investment sales side of the business, a crash course which gave her the toolkit for a career as a ‘deal person’. Moving back to Boston, we discuss Jess’ time with Colliers and Trammell Crow before being recruited to join Beacon Capital Partners, kicking off a transformative chapter in her career which brought Jess to London and other international markets, and finally back home and back to the brokerage side for a productive stint at JLL. The bulk of our discussion is appropriately centered Jess’ move to Tishman Speyer, where she has done a tremendous job in building the firm’s Boston regional platform with a number of the market’s most exciting projects.
We had a blast catching up with Jess and learned a lot about her path. While every path in this business is unique, Jessica’s journey in CRE has been fascinating and we are excited to see what the next decade holds for Jess and Tishman Speyer.
Arthur Jemison - Boston Planning & Development Agency
Arthur Jemison – City of Boston/Boston Planning & Development Agency
Arthur Jemison is the City of Boston’s Chief of Planning and the Director of the Boston Planning and Development Agency (‘BPDA’). A nationally respected public-private development leader, Chief Jemison came “back” to the City of Boston with 28 years of planning and affordable housing expertise, working with community members to create equitable places in Detroit, MI, Washington D.C. and Boston, MA. Most recently, Jemison served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where he led the Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) and served as the policy lead and HUD partner for American Cities, Counties, States, and other local units of government.
Jemison joined HUD from the City of Detroit, where he was Group Executive for Planning, Housing & Development, leading the City’s efforts toward equitable growth. In early 2014, Jemison was recruited to lead the Housing & Revitalization Department for the City of Detroit, to assist as the City recovered from bankruptcy. In that capacity, Jemison led strategy, deployment and management of municipal housing policy and HUD entitlement funding.
Before going to Detroit, Jemison held leadership positions at the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for Massachusetts under Governor Deval Patrick. Prior to that, he held a variety of public and private-sector positions, including service at Massachusetts Port Authority, Boston Housing Authority, the then-Boston Redevelopment Authority, and in private development work at GLC Development Resources, as well as in the District of Columbia.
Jemison has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He also holds a Master of City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellow. Jemison is also a 2021 Spirit of Detroit Award winner, a 2016 Michigan Chronicle Men / Women of Excellence awardee, and a member of the team recognized with the 2013 Robert Larson Public Policy Award for Workforce Housing from the Urban Land Institute, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Our conversation with Chief Jemison starts with his familial roots and upbringing in Detroit, MI and Amherst, MA and his college days at UMass Amherst, where he was first introduced to economics, urban planning and public policy. Through a fellowship opportunity for under-represented students, Arthur blazed his trail to MIT where he earned his Master in City Planning (MCP) degree, and turned his focus to real estate’s private sector, working initially in Miami for Arthur Andersen doing development feasibility consulting before following his calling in the public domain.
Much of our discussion with Chief Jemison, not surprisingly, focuses on the Boston market and his important work as the Director of the BPDA and as the City’s Planning Chief. We enjoyed this candid discussion, in which Arthur stressed the importance of collaboration and cooperation between his team and the development community. We were encouraged by this discussion and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
For more information on the Boston Planning & Development Agency, please visit http://www.bostonplans.org/
Mentioned in this Episode:
What Arthur’s Reading Right now: Small Mercies (Dennis Lehane)
New Book Alert: Look for Me There (Luke Russert)
Required RE Reading: The Reichmanns: Family, Faith, Fortune, and the Empire of Olympia & York
Benjamin Butcher – STAG Industrial
Ben Butcher currently serves as Executive Chairman of the Board, following his 12-year tenure as Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors since STAG’s formation in July 2010. Prior to the formation of STAG Industrial, Mr. Butcher oversaw the founding and growth of its predecessor business, serving as CEO and a member of the Board of Managers of STAG Capital Partners, LLC, STAG Capital Partners III, LLC, and their affiliates from 2003 to 2011. From 1999 to 2003, Mr. Butcher was engaged as a Private Equity Investor in real estate and technology. From 1997 to 1998, Mr. Butcher served as a Director at Credit Suisse First Boston, where he sourced and executed transactions for the principal transactions group (real estate debt and equity). Prior to that, he served as a Director at Nomura Asset Capital from 1993 to 1997, where he focused on marketing and business development for its commercial mortgage-backed securities group. Mr. Butcher serves as a member of the board of trustees and a member of the audit committee and compensation committee of Elme Communities (formerly WashREIT), an owner of multi-family properties in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Mr. Butcher holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bowdoin College and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
Our conversation with Ben begins with his graduation from Bowdoin College and his path to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Ben then talks us through his first role post-MBA in the paper business and his departure from that industry upon hearing about opportunities in the commercial real estate brokerage arena. Ben then took on a variety of entrepreneurial development pursuits, a crash course in the ‘blocking and tackling’ of commercial real estate dealmaking. From there, Ben’s interest in making the jump into real estate finance was piqued when a friend from Tuck recruited him using the overture: “it’s playtime without adult supervision.” That kicked off Ben’s colorful career with Nomura and Credit Suisse First Boston, in the go-go days of CMBS lending and charging hard with the era’s most prolific lenders.
Finally, we get to the formation of STAG Capital Partners upon Ben and his partners’ recognition of an opportunity in the industrial market, and the fight through numerous headwinds to successfully complete the platform’s IPO as STAG Industrial (NYSE: $STAG). STAG Industrial has grown significantly since its IPO to become a highly-regarded industrial REIT, owning and operating over 111.7 million square feet across 562 buildings in 41 states, with a 12/31/22 market cap of $8.4 billion.
This was an unfiltered, high-voltage conversation and we appreciate Ben’s candor in sharing his story with us!
As Discussed: Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’ Tribute to Tim Russert (June 2008)
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Michael Byrne - AEW
Mike Byrne is AEW’s Chief Investment Officer and Head of Private Equity and Private Debt in North America. He has been with AEW since 2003, and today is responsible for overseeing all of AEW’s commingled funds, separate accounts and direct investments in North America. In this capacity he is responsible for the strategic direction and oversight of the Firm’s portfolio management, acquisitions, capital markets and asset management functions in addition to managerial responsibility of the Private Equity Group resources. Mr. Byrne also serves on AEW’s Investment Committee, Risk Management Committee and Governance Committee in North America, and he is a member of AEW’s Global Investment Committee. Prior to joining AEW, he was a member of the real estate team at the Pension Reserve Investment Management Board (“Mass PRIM”), where he managed the pension fund’s real estate and timber portfolios. Prior to that he worked at Citigroup in the real estate investment banking group. Mr. Byrne is a member of the Urban Land Institute (U.L.I.) and NAREIM, and a graduate of Dartmouth College.
Our conversation with Mike begins with his graduation from Dartmouth, where he captained the men’s hockey team, and entered the workforce at Salomon Smith Barney (Citigroup) as an investment banking analyst in the Real Estate & Lodging Group. With his first day in the real estate group falling on 9/11, Mike shares with us how this made for a strange start to a career. Amidst the ensuing capital markets turmoil, Mike then returned to his local roots and joined Mass PRIM as an analyst supporting the pension plan’s real estate and timber allocation strategies. We discuss how this gave Mike a unique perspective and foundation for the balance of his career, all of which has been spent in the real estate investment management business with AEW which he joined almost 20 years ago in 2003.
The bulk of our discussion centers around the tremendous growth and success of AEW over the years. Mike’s passion for AEW shines through as he shares with us observations on company culture, operating partner selection, the firm’s innovative menu of investment strategies, investing through cycles and AEW’s current outlook on the market from Mike’s perspective as CIO.
This was a terrific look into AEW, one of the world’s largest real estate investment managers with almost $100 billion of assets under management, 830 employees in 18 offices across the globe, and over 800 institutional clients. Mike Byrne is one of the market’s most prominent and respected investment management professionals, and this episode makes it clear why. We look forward to having Mike and his teammates back to Good Dirt as we know we’ve just scratched the surface.
For more information on AEW please visit https://www.aew.com/
*** As mentioned in the episode intro, the Bisnow Boston Healthcare Real Estate Summit will be held on Weds, May 24th. Jennifer Wong from AEW, Kyle O’Connor from MLL Capital and Brian Carlisle from Celera Properties will participate in a panel moderated by Good Dirt co-host Mike Greeley of Newmark’s Healthcare Capital Markets team and NE Medical-Academic Practice Group. For more info: https://www.bisnow.com/events/boston/healthcare/boston-healthcare-real-estate-summit-7823***
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Maureen Joyce – Barings
Maureen Joyce is Managing Director and Head of U.S. Real Estate Equity Asset Management for Barings Real Estate, the real estate platform of global investment manager and MassMutual subsidiary Barings ($347+ billion AUM). Maureen is responsible for the investment performance and strategic direction of all real estate equity assets across all U.S. mandates and serves on the Barings Real Estate U.S. Private Equity Investment Committee. Prior to joining the firm in 2021, Maureen served as the Head of Asset Management & Separate Accounts at AEW, where she was responsible for asset management, financial reporting and accounting as well as the firm’s Separate Account business. She also served on the Investment and Risk Management Committees and led AEW’s ESG+R efforts as co-chair of the ESG+R Steering Committee, a topic which we dig into in the podcast. Prior to AEW, Maureen worked in real estate equity at CBRE Investors, Spaulding & Slye, and Copley Real Estate Advisors, gaining experience in a variety of roles since entering the industry in 1986. Maureen holds a B.A. in Economics from Trinity College and an M.B.A. from Boston College Carroll School of Management. She is active in a variety of professional associations, including Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Technology Product Council; Women’s Leadership Advisory (WLI) Board; National Association for Industrial and Office Parks; and National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM).
Our conversation with Maureen starts with her graduation from Trinity, upon which she took an accounting role in the TV business despite having no formal training. As became a hallmark of her career, she learned on the fly and quickly made the jump into commercial real estate, serving a variety of roles at Copley Real Estate Advisors, an experience she credits with her exceptional well-roundedness and in retrospect, a crash course in the shifting institutional investing world. Copley was pioneering the investment of third party pension fund capital into real estate, a shift in the market for which she had a front row seat, and soon enough, a leading role. It is hard to imagine a day when pension fund capital did not dominate the CRE markets, and Maureen’s perspective on how this market evolved will be a history lesson for many of our listeners. Maureen is without a doubt one of Boston’s leading real estate figures, but her reach, influence and of course, her portfolio, go far beyond the Northeast. We look forward to having Maureen and her team back for additional episodes, as we just scratched the surface with one of the market’s most respected institutions.
For more information on Barings please visit www.barings.com
IMPORTANT: At the end of the episode, we remember our friend, teammate and American hero, U.S. Navy SEAL Michael T. Ernst, who was tragically lost in a training accident on February 19th, 2023. Please consider supporting Ernie’s wife and children through the fund linked here, administered by the Navy SEALs Foundation- it is the least we can all do to honor this ultimate sacrifice. https://impact.navysealfoundation.org/give/469518/#!/donation/checkout
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I am relatively new in Boston and this podcast is an incredible way for me to learn more about the leaders in real estate in town.
Thank you for putting this together!
Really nice job these. I listen as a long time Comm broker participant in the Boston market - anyone who has been here or not here— just invaluable insights. I’ve learned a lot since listening.
CRE’s ‘How I Built This’
Very cool series. Love hearing about the human side of these great investors. Will share w/ my colleagues.