ULI New York Blog

Recap: Career Evolution Program – Investment Session


By: Moritz Rothacker

On May 10th, 2017, ULI New York hosted a professional development program with speakers from the development and institutional investment worlds.

Margaret Blakey (Russell Reynolds Associates) moderated the investment session with speakers Jenna Gerstenlauer (Sound Mark Partners) and Andrew Holm (Ares Management). The panel examined the question of how professionals decide where they fit within the industry and when to expand or change roles.

There were several key takeaways from this program. It is very common for professionals to dislike certain aspects of their role, but a job change may not always the best option.  The first step should be to attempt to improve the situation at the current company. A conversation with colleagues, superiors, and your company’s human resources department can potentially help to address issues and find a solution.

However, if professionals are dissatisfied with their job in general, their company does not offer attractive career development opportunities, or they simply want to work in a different role, it might be time to look for a role that may be a better fit.

For Gerstenlauer, it was the right move to found Sound Mark Partners in 2013 after 4 years at CBRE Capital Partners. Many professionals reach a point in their careers at which they no longer see further development potential at their current firm. However, the entrepreneurship role is not for everyone, and the transition to a new role in general is often not as smooth as anticipated.  It is important to have a clear understanding of one’s individual risk tolerance level and to know what professional role one is looking for. Holm knew that he wanted to work on the principal side and was able to realize this goal at Ares Management.

Some professionals are comfortable making these important decisions alone, while others often seek their family’s, friends’ and colleagues’ perspectives on the Matter. Mentors who are at a more senior career can be tremendously helpful to determine the next career move, based on their experience

In particular, for entry-level positions it is not unusual for applicants to have a background in a different industry. That won’t necessarily raise a red flag as long as applicants have demonstrated excellence in their previous roles and are able to show how their skill set relates to the desired position. Once hired, it is crucial to ask questions, learn quickly, and be humble.

There are opportunities even at times of economic upheaval. Management changes during the financial crisis provided junior employees with the chance to step up and assume more responsibility, which was the case for Andrew at Ares Management. Internal restructuring and business consolidation made it possible for him to work more closely with senior management at his company.

Another theme discussed was that at least anecdotally, millennial workforce is no longer willing to decide between career and family, but seek jobs that allow for a work-life balance. Although accepted by most employers, many employees still find it hard to leave the office during the day to take care of their children. The speakers’ advice: ask neither for permission, nor for forgiveness. As long as you get your work done, you will succeed.

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