The Real Estate Center at DePaul University, the commercial real estate community at large and members of the CBRE family this May honored one of its own, Jack Durburg. CBRE’s CEO of The Americas and a onetime Chicago leasing broker, Durburg received the university’s 2017 award for outstanding leadership in the real estate profession.
The luncheon program, held at the University Club and attended by 300 people, featured remarks by Bob Sulentic, global chief executive officer of CBRE; the panel discussion CRE NextGen: The Next Generation of Commercial Real Estate Leaders; and the award presentation to Durburg by Bob Wislow.
As part of the award, a $220,000 scholarship program, the Chicago Commercial Real Estate Industry Endowed Scholarship Fund, was established by friends, colleagues and associates of Durburg.
In his opening remarks, Sulentic cited reasons for being at the event, including to honor a friend and colleague and to support DePaul University as it strives to attract and educate bright talent
“I am here to support Jack, an increasingly important colleague and a really good friend,” he said. “I have had a ringside seat to his rise in the industry and the company.”
Characterizing Durburg’s job as “one of the biggest in the world in commercial real estate,” Sulentic praised this CRE professional, saying, “He embodies the rarest and most important skill in business, the skill of leadership. He reflects positively on DePaul.”
Sulentic also thanked DePaul for educating Jack.
“We are thrilled to support your endowment here at DePaul. You have built the best real estate education program at the university level in Chicago; and this is a city of world-class universities,” Sulentic said.
The cornerstone of the luncheon program was CRE NextGen: The Next Generation of Commercial Real Estate Leaders. The panel discussion featured Andy Gloor, Managing Principal, Sterling Bay; Curt Bailey, President, Related Midwest; and Kim Adams, Managing Director, JP Morgan. The three, moderated by Sulentic, discussed a variety of career-oriented topics, ranging from how they got their start in real estate, significant inflexion points in their careers and the most important elements of their legacies.
The start of the real estate careers of Adams, Bailey and Gloor offers proof of the concept “there is no greater motivation than that which comes from within; or bites from behind.”
Upon graduation, Kim Adams set her sights on working for LaSalle Partners—and she never took her eye off the prize. Originally rejected for a position, Adams said, “I could have been a derelict.” But her “passion” and persistence ultimately paid off when she landed a position there. The rest, as they say, is history.
Bailey’s persistence was similar, but on a different scale. After earning a degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Bailey wanted to stay in Colorado—expecting that he may never leave. So, as Bailey recounts it, he literally camped out on the doorstep of Goldberg Property Associates, the real estate development firm that gave him his first opportunity.
Gloor’s path was a little different. “I was teaching English in Costa Rica, but ran out of money so I returned home.” One day, while living in his father’s basement, his woke up to find a newspaper on his chest with a note demanding the he find a job. Ultimately, after some interviews, Gloor landed a position as a broker at Frain Camins & Swartchild, which ultimately became part of what is now CBRE.
When the panelists were asked to define the inflexion points in their careers, Gloor stated, “We survived 2009-2010 and we emerged; we fought it through and figured it out.” One of the things that Gloor is proudest of during that period is “we didn’t lose a dime for anyone.” Instead, he said, in acquiring and developing creative office space, “we validated a niche.”
Bailey identified two inflexion points, first citing “getting married to someone who believes in me and my talents” and then highlighting the start of his career at Related. “When you work with great, talented people you can do anything,” Bailey said. “The team takes me to another level.”
Adams admitted that her view in most situations is “where can this lead me?” She acknowledged there are some experiences, like a stint she did in France, that may not lead you anywhere, but do teach you.
Sulentic asked the trio of leaders to pinpoint a specific deal that was significant and made them proud of what they do. Bailey cited the multifamily development Related did at 111 W. Wacker. Originally launched before the crash and stalled early in construction, the property had come to symbolize the real estate and economic downturn. But Related’s redevelopment and repositioning of the project, relaunched in 2011, has been a great success, answering what had been a big and very visible question for the city.
Gloor, whose firm has done so many deals over the last several years, called attention to the Fulton Market, and the acquisition of the “frozen” building that now is known as the Chicago offices for Google. That deal served as the catalyst for the acquisition of 32 more buildings and what Gloor described as “a wild ride ever since.”
Adams, again taking a broader perspective, said the deals that have made her the proudest are the deals that weren’t won based on economics, but because of relationships. “That’s what really matters,” Adams said.
Ultimately, whether it is for the body of work completed over a career—like the recognition for Durburg – or during the still relatively young careers of the members of the panel, leaders are judged, in part, by their legacy and the lessons they teach.
Gloor believes his legacy is “the people we have,” a sentiment shared by Bailey. Adams was more personal, citing being there and “serving as a mentor for the next generation”.
The lesson most likely to be taught by Gloor is to do business fairly, the right way. For Bailey, the advice is, “Own it, take responsibility.”
The program then turned to the presentation of the award to Durburg, a man who certainly has “owned it,” and, based on the support the program generated, has conducted business the right way.
Once presented with the distinguished achievement award, Durburg addressed the gathering and said, “I am standing in front of all of you, humbled to receive this award. I can trace back a lot of my success to DePaul, and the opportunities the program gave to me. I’m grateful.”
He noted that one of the inflexion points in his career was the experience of getting an MBA at DePaul at night while working during the day as a broker. “The program was excellent,” he said. “I could walk there from my office which made it feasible.”
He added that he had zero chance of being hired (by JLL) without his DePaul MBA.
Durburg thanked everyone who contributed to the Chicago Commercial Real Estate Industry Endowed Scholarship Fund. He pledged to help “take good care of these funds, and distribute them in the right way”.
He concluded by saying, “We can all be proud of the opportunities we are giving students to bring up the next generation in the industry.”