George Mack joined Cresa in 2016 and has past experience raising debt and equity for corporate users of real estate. Mack has consulted on transactions valued over $120 million and advises Fortune 500 companies and private equity clients in asset monetization, office relocation, build-to-suit development, balance sheet restructuring and the acquisition of portfolio companies.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
I’ve lived in the Chicagoland area my whole life, growing up about 25 miles northwest in Itasca. There I went to Lake Park High School and eventually University of Iowa for my undergrad, where I studied economics and entrepreneurial management. My family is all from Chicago, so the Midwestern values are certainly engrained in my DNA.
When you were young, what did you aspire to be?
Growing up in the ‘90s, and having a bedroom covered in Bulls paraphernalia, I definitely had dreams of being a professional basketball player. However, as I got older and the reality set in that that wasn’t going to happen, I had aspirations of owning my own business. During my senior year of college I developed a business plan, and using cash saved from jobs I’d worked at school and during breaks, along with some help from family members, I started a small tech-oriented laundry and dry-cleaning business. The business grew to one storefront location and serviced approximately 20 residential and two office buildings. I eventually sold the business to a competitor about 18 months later.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I got my first job with a boutique shop in Chicago, initially focused on tenant rep office brokerage. A few months after I started, the company had a large requirement with a client that involved capital markets services. At that time our shop brought in an industry veteran to launch and run a capital markets group, and I was fortunate enough to join the team. After about two years at the company, we decided to transition to Cresa to take advantage of its broad resources and international reach.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
I’ve been fortunate to work with some great people since starting in the industry. Most notably I’ve worked with Mike Duncan for the past five years and he has really helped me groom my financial acumen and real estate knowledge. In an industry like this it’s important to have an experienced person to learn from and bounce ideas off of—it’s something I’m grateful for.
What does a day in the life of George Mack look like?
During my traditional “work hours,” every day is different, but I try and stay regimented in the areas that I can. I wake up most days around 5:30 am, work out, take my dog to the park, then get in to the office around 7:45 am. The work day is always different with a mix of meetings, property tours and transactional work. I create a to-do list every morning and update throughout the day to stay on top of everything and leave once its complete. That might sound like a bit of an antiquated practice, but as a visual learner and worker it pays off!
What do you like most about your job?
There’s a lot. I would say one of the key components is that every deal we do is different. It’s a different client, a different financial or operational objective, a different real estate asset, etc. So we have to approach each transaction as a unique challenge and figure out the best solution to not just meet, but exceed the expectations of our clients.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already?
As I grow my business, I look forward to creating and managing my own team. And I say that from a selfless place. Something that I enjoy is working with and building relationships with people. So the opportunity to create jobs for others and provide career advancement and mentorship would truly be a privilege.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
I’m a person that can’t really sit still for too long, so I always have to be doing something. I spend time with friends and family on the weekends and try to lend some time volunteering a few times a month, which I think is important. Other than that I like to be outdoors, playing sports, boating, fishing, concert…cheering on the Cubs at Wrigley.
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next?
This may sound like a cop-out answer, but my family owns a cabin in northern Minnesota—about 50 miles from the Canadian border—and that is my favorite place to go, and fortunately I get to go back every year. As for what’s next, I booked a trip to Europe this summer and am looking forward to exploring some new cities there and dusting off my Italian.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
I think Barry Sternlicht would be a pretty interesting interview. He’s someone who got his start in Chicago and obviously had this meteoric rise coming to prominence during the savings and loan crisis in the early 1990s. I always find it particularly interesting to get perspective from people who launched careers here and learn about how they utilized the opportunities and resources the city has to offer to establish themselves both personally and professionally.