Friday, May 11, 2012 Real Estate News
The Graaskamp Center Welcomes New Board Member Kathy Thurston, Managing Director and Head of Institutional Real Estate with The PrivateBank

Kathy ThurstonsWe are pleased to welcome Kathy Thurston to the Grasskamp Center Board of Advisors! Kathy is a Managing Director and Head of Institutional Real Estate with The PrivateBank. Kathy has direct responsibility for the bank's relationships with REITS, pension fund advisors, private equity funds and real estate service companies. Over a 20 year career, Kathy has held several board positions with both CREW Network and NAIOP and is a member of NAREIT and ICSC.

This month, Kathy tells us about her typical work day, what she thinks the world needs from real estate professionals today, and she shares some words of wisdom for young women considering a career in real estate.

Describe your current position and what an average work day is like for you.

As head of Institutional Real Estate with The PrivateBank, I have direct responsibility for the bank's relationships with REITS, Pension Fund Advisors, Private Equity Funds and real estate service companies. As a middle market commercial bank, real estate is an important component of The PrivateBank's overall loan portfolio and product mix. The role requires an understanding of capital markets, real estate market trends, characteristics and issues in order to quickly respond to opportunities as well as manage an existing, active loan portfolio. As the portfolio is composed of both construction and interim term loans, an understanding of the construction process, risks and nuances is required to protect the Bank's loan position. The unique aspects of each real estate project or financing request requires an understanding of project economics, cash flow lending and project accounting in order to devise a custom lending solution for each opportunity.

What does the world need from real estate professionals today?

The real estate industry is ever changing. It is important to remain flexible and forward thinking to adapt to the changing business environment as market demands shift and move. This is especially true in the financing arena. Although the base fundamentals of real estate have not changed, keeping pace with trends and market conditions is a must. This requires professionals to be in the market, connected to deals and to have an understanding of key influences driving market trends. Above all is the need to be consistently reliable and have an entrepreneurial , "get it done" approach to the business.

What do you enjoy most about being in the real estate profession?

I most enjoy the tangible nature of real estate and its undeniable and lasting role in shaping the economy. The profession is incredibly diverse and dynamic which gives rise to a broad range of professional expertise and the ability to create niche opportunities for business. Every day is a different day, with a new focus, new project, or new opportunity to shape the market and community in which we operate. Working at The PrivateBank gives me the opportunity to interact with many companies and help them create financial solutions for a wide variety of needs.

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in real estate?

Increasingly women are choosing commercial real estate as a career choice due to the many disciplines that touch the industry from development, brokerage, finance, accounting, law and other industry specializations. Real estate has something for everyone.

Prior to jumping in, understand the basic principles of real estate, the development cycle and real estate finance. This knowledge will provide a solid platform upon which to build. Finding a mentor to guide in a career path is an important first step to figuring out what direction to head. Be adaptable and willing to change course as opportunity arises. Most importantly, network, network, network! You never know where the next deal or opportunity will come from.

What benefits do you receive by being member of the Graaskamp Center Advisory Board?

The Board provides a unique opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation with industry experts on key topics shaping the industry. The content of the programming is educational and the environment is conducive to networking with industry professionals in a collegial environment.