Profile: Podolsky|Circle’s Alissa Adler gives advice on the power of building industry relationships

Alissa Adler, investment broker and principal at Podolsky|Circle CORFAC International, has enjoyed a long relationship with commercial real estate. She said it’s people and numbers that she loves and added that she can’t think of a better career path to combine the two.

The relationship began when Adler was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois studying finance and was required to narrow her focus and select a specialty area. But it was a certain impression of a professor that got her to focus on the industry.

“After I found out my Intro to Real Estate professor owned his own real estate and drove a red Porsche 911, I was hooked,” she recalled.

Since then, Adler has worked with several public REITs, including a couple that are prominent for their Chicago and Midwest roots—Equity Office Properties and Duke Realty.

Determined and still very much invested in real estate, Adler went on to form her own company, Circle Realty Advisors, which eventually merged with Podolsky Northstar CORFAC International to form what is now Podolsky|Circle CORFAC International.

She characterizes the Podolsky|Circle differentiator as the firm’s unique blend of people with entrepreneurial and institutional backgrounds who provide clients the hands-on comprehensive service they seek and deliver a well-prepared end product that fits each client’s specific needs.

A numbers-lover Adler has evaluated hundreds of acquisition and disposition opportunities in her role as investment advisor and counselor to companies and clients regarding industrial, office and retail properties. While she has closed more than $1.2 billion in transactions, one of her most memorable and interesting experiences is a deal that didn’t close.

In mid-1990s, Equity Office Properties was searching all over the country for unique acquisition opportunities, including the iconic Rockefeller Center in New York.

“I was part of the acquisition team evaluating the opportunity and at one point in our due diligence, I was asked if I would move to New York to run the property if we were successful,” Adler explained. “For a variety of reasons, the deal never came together. But I have always wondered how different my life would have been had it happened and I had become a New Yorker.”

Whether operating out of the Big Apple or the Windy City, Adler has always found the business to be fast-paced and exciting:

“Every deal is different, and there is no better feeling than seeing that email that says ‘We’re closed’ after all the hard work on a deal.  There is also a no limit to your potential if you want to work hard and be your own boss.”

Owing to her experience at various well-known companies that have produced some of the industry’s most successful professionals, Adler feels lucky to have worked with so many people whom she considers her mentors.

“Surround yourself with the right people— those that are really smart and have high integrity—and everything you need to know will be yours to learn and absorb.”

She added that learning doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stop at any point in your career.

To that end, one of the greatest lessons Adler has learned in commercial real estate is that the industry is very unique because it is all about relationships and people—not just locally, but nationally. From that lesson, she added that if you treat people with respect and give and much as you take, you will get it all back threefold.

Another area where she has found that to be true is with her work over the last 10 years at a no-kill animal shelter.

“I dedicate a lot of time to saving animals,” Adler said proudly.

That focused dedication includes carrying a cat carrier and leash in the trunk of her car at all times, whether she’s out touring properties or just out for a drive. Both have come in handy for road side rescues.

When she’s not selling investment properties or orchestrating roadside rescues, Adler likes to spend time with her husband doing just about anything, and admitted that no one makes her laugh more than he does.

As for the future of commercial real estate— in addition to the obvious signs of “hopefulness” with heightened demand and increased capital in the market—Adler sees many young, intelligent and energetic people coming back into the real estate business.

“Interestingly a lot of them are the children of people I started with many years ago,” she observed.  “It’s good to see that we can attract that kind of talent to our industry.”

As for her personal future, it should come as no surprise that at the top of Adler’s list of things to accomplish at some point in her lifetime, one is to “see Australia and a real life koala bear.”