This post was written by Dan Jackson, MBA ’12 for our blog, Real Estate Matters. 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.

Class of 2006 UST real estate alumnus, Grant Campbell, loves what he does, ”I enjoy the fact that every day is different. Every investment opportunity, every asset, every lease is different.  In this job, you need to be able to find ways to maximize value for both the company and our shareholders, and also for the tenants we work with.  This essentially involves figuring out what the key objectives are for those involved in a particular transaction  and finding the best way to meet those objectives for all parties involved, whether they be sellers, buyers, lenders or portfolio tenants,” states Campbell.

As Associate, Investments, for Welsh Property TrustGrant Campbell works as part of a team to source, underwrite, execute, manage and dispose of real estate investments.  He has been in the role for a year and half, but has been with the company overall for close to 6 years.  Campbell started out as a Financial Analyst in 2006, just prior to his graduation from St. Thomas.  In this position he underwrote potential acquisitions for the company.  In late 2007, he transitioned and took on a more active role as a Senior Financial Analyst with Welsh.  A key component in this position was that he was able to manage the overall financial analyst team at the company, overseeing work allocation and development.   As he continued to develop professionally in this position, he had the opportunity to dive deeper into the corporate finance and asset management realm. All of this knowledge eventually morphed into his role today as an Investment Associate with Welsh Property Trust, where he focuses on sourcing and underwriting investment opportunities, corporate level financial modeling in conjunction with Welsh Property Trust’s investment partners, and assisting with portfolio management.

A typical day for Campbell usually begins by scanning various real estate and finance publications, for notable transactions and industry developments.  The overall core of his job involves a lot of underwriting in ARGUS and Excel, as well as time on the phone, “I focus on underwriting both potential new deals and current assets that we own.  A lot of the day can be spent talking with brokers in various markets where we currently own or are looking to buy, to discuss activity relating to our buildings or to discuss transactions that are for sale or have recently sold.  We are always trying to find opportunities.  To sum the position up – ARGUS, Excel, a time on the phone, property tours and lots of conversation internally amongst our team members – ultimately trying to find ways to add value to the Welsh Property Trust portfolio,” says Campbell.

Reflecting on his academic experience at St. Thomas, Campbell stated that he never saw himself in the position that he is in right now as an undergraduate student at St. Thomas.  “I had no idea what I wanted to do.  I initially thought that I would go into the banking sector, and it wasn’t until almost the end of my junior year that I decided a real estate emphasis was something that I wanted to pursue, more specifically, real estate from a finance point of view,” states Campbell.   Grant feels that St. Thomas provided him with a lot of opportunities to be involved at the local level.  As a professional, Campbell is able to see that St. Thomas has proved valuable because of the network that it has connected him to, connections that he feels comfortable to be surrounded by, shares a common bond with and a network that he continues to learn from.

The St. Thomas real estate program provided him with a lot of exposure to all of the facets of the real estate business, from property management, to appraisals, investments and much more.  While it is impossible to go into depth for each one of these areas, Grant feels that what the real estate program did was to provide him with exposure to the industry.  “Because of the program, I had a better understanding and solid foundation of all of the different areas of real estate,” he stated.

Campbell is on his way to becoming a well-established real estate professional.  Moving towards the future, he wants to continue to develop his skill set surrounding the intricacies of structuring a deal, as well as continued exposure to the brick and mortar aspect of repositioning an asset.  Grant aspires to continue his work in the real estate investment fund space. “I see myself working for a real estate investment group that has clearly defined goals, knows what they are good at and pursues both of those on a daily basis.  This type of investment group that I see myself working for consistently goes after investments that make sense from a financial, locational and physical standpoint” , says Campbell.  In addition to continuing to develop his skill set around commercial investment through his career, Campbell would also like to begin owning his own personal real estate investments.  This would serve as an opportunity to stay well-versed in all areas of real estate as well as provide a stable financial future for him and his family

As mentioned previously, Campbell enjoyed his time spent at St. Thomas, and imparts these words of advice to current and future real estate students at the University of St. Thomas,

  •  Take advantage of the resources, connections and network that St. Thomas has to offer.  It will help you tremendously as you move on to the next phase of your career.
  • Find a mentor(s) you can always go to with questions or lean on for advice.  This can be someone who has been in the industry for a while, but does not always have to be.  Having someone you can go to have honest, and sometimes hard, conversations allow you to grow personally and professionally.  From Campbell’s perspective, advice and feedback from a mentor has been very beneficial in his development process.
  •  Once you are working, and have moved on, stay in contact with as many of your classmates and colleagues as you can.   Attend industry events or join certain industry groups.  Staying in contact with your classmates and colleagues, and becoming involved thru industry events will only provide benefits to you, both personally and professionally.

Campbell has continued to stay active in the St. Thomas community after graduation.  He has received CCIM designation and is very active with the UST Real Estate Alumni Council (UST-REAC), having just finished his two-year term as UST-REAC President.