Cornell Real Estate Club Visits Industry Leaders and Alumni in Chicago
By Tyler Bonaparte ‘25 and Reika Nakagawa ’25
Each semester, members of the Cornell Real Estate Club (CREC) travel to various cities for a career trek with the support of the Center for Real Estate and Finance (CREF in the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration. For spring 2023, the three-day trip gave participants the opportunity to network with professionals from the LaSalle Chicago, Autograph Collection hotel; Wells Fargo; Walton Street Capital; and HVS.
The LaSalle Chicago, Autograph Collection hotel
Our stay at the LaSalle Chicago, Autograph Collection hotel was a fulfilling and enriching learning experience, providing a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the hospitality and real estate industries. The hotel’s location in a beautiful area of downtown Chicago, riddled with historical significance and monuments, provided an excellent backdrop to our visit. We were privileged to meet with the hotel’s general manager, Stefan Gruvberger, who gave us a comprehensive tour of the hotel and provided valuable insights into his responsibilities, decision-making processes, and the overall stylistic approach of the hotel and its employees. Additionally, our meeting with renowned Chicago developer Mike Reschke was a highlight of our stay at the hotel. Reschke shared his career trajectory and experiences working in development and as the CEO of Prime Group, offering an invaluable perspective on the real estate industry. Our interactions with industry leaders like Gruvberger and Reschke were a testament to the caliber of industry experts that the career enrichment trek brought us in contact with.
The first stop on our career enrichment trek to Chicago was Wells Fargo, where we were warmly received by six analysts and the director of real estate banking, Conrad Moseley. We received a short summary of their responsibilities in various areas, including securitization and real estate financing. The knowledge demonstrated by the Wells Fargo team was impressive, and our meeting provided a window into the different aspects of real estate financing and investment, including the nuances of underwriting and evaluating real estate assets. The session was particularly helpful in highlighting the diverse career opportunities available in the sector and the skills and expertise required to excel in each role.
Walton Street Capital
At Walton Street Capital, we met with Tom Jaeger ’15, Jenny Bai ’21, and Gillian Caverly ’22, as well as other analysts and principals from several divisions. We learned about the firm’s investment platforms across equity, debt, and Mexico, followed by a discussion on the futures of various asset classes and urban locations.
We visited HVS at their offices held in a co-working space. We were hosted by Brian Arevalo, a senior vice president with HVS, who started at the firm almost 11 years ago as an associate. Arevalo gave us a presentation on the integrated hospitality services that HVS provides, such as brand selection, asset management, appraisal, and financing.
We also learned about the growth opportunities and career progressions at HVS, including the one-year shadowing period for new associates, and sponsorship for the Appraisal Institute license exam.
Feedback as attendees
Reika Nakagawa ’25, Executive Board Member, Cornell Real Estate Club
“I am grateful for the opportunity to visit Chicago and meet with professionals at different real estate firms. Through the company presentations and roundtable discussions, I gained deeper insights on various players in the real estate industry, specifically on their business models, client base, firm culture, and investment theses. With prior internship experience only in operations and hotel equity, I was fascinated to learn from leaders in development, direct lending, commercial mortgage-backed securities, and hospitality advisory. Thank you CREF for funding this trip and making my first career trek at Cornell memorable.”
Tyler Bonaparte ’25 (ILR), Executive Board Member, Cornell Real Estate Club
“The career enrichment trek to Chicago was an eye-opening experience for me as a member of the Cornell Real Estate Club. The opportunity to stay at the beautiful LaSalle Chicago, Autograph Collection hotel, in the heart of downtown Chicago, was an added bonus! During our visits to different employers, we spoke with analysts who shared their experiences, responsibilities, and passion for the field. Conrad Moseley, the director of real estate banking at Wells Fargo, made a lasting impression on me with his wise words: “The work that you produce is a reflection of who you are. Do your due diligence, know your market, and work smart. That way, people will want to invest in you.” The career trek not only broadened my understanding of real estate, but it also reinforced the value of hard work, attention to detail, and building strong relationships. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this trip and excited to take what I’ve learned and apply it to my future endeavors in the real estate industry.”
Reika Nakagawa ‘25
Reika Nakagawa is a sophomore in the Nolan School majoring in hotel administration and minoring in real estate. She is interested in real estate impact investing, ecotourism, and adaptive reuse. On campus, she is an executive board member of the Cornell Real Estate Club, vice president of professional development at Women Leadership in Hospitality, and senior advisor at Diversity on the Street. Outside of school, Nakagawa enjoys visiting museums, watching animal documentaries, and exploring new restaurants. She will be joining Morgan Stanley as an investment banking summer analyst in her junior summer.
Tyler Bonaparte ‘25 (ILR)
Tyler Bonaparte is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations with intended minors in business and real estate. On campus, he is an executive board member of the Cornell Real Estate Club and a brother of the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law fraternity. During his freshman summer, Bonaparte worked at the Office of the New York City Comptroller as an intern on a private equity team within the Bureau of Asset Management and plans to return for his sophomore summer. Outside of school, he enjoys listening to music, trying out new restaurants, and working out.