Recent Grad Sets His Sights on Real Estate Opportunities in the Caribbean
In 2004, Christopher Browne MPS-RE ’23 was in Brooklyn, NY, preparing to travel to Grenada to be with his family. Then Hurricane Ivan changed everything.
“My mother called and said, ‘You can’t come down here. There’s nothing to come back to,’” recalled Browne. The storm destroyed basic infrastructure on the small Caribbean island, and rebuilding would take years.
Suddenly, Browne found himself on an entirely new path, focused on his education and career in the United States. In May 2023, he graduated from the Baker Program in Real Estate at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. Now he aims to bring his expertise back to a region close to his heart.
After Hurricane Ivan, Browne enrolled at Brooklyn College, earning a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance, then a master’s in business economics. Among his high school friends, attending college was unusual; nearly all of his peers entered the workforce directly after high school.
Browne says he’s always been driven. As an undergraduate, he won a national scholarship to study brand management in Switzerland and, within two weeks of his acceptance, raised the necessary $21,000 to attend. He then returned to Brooklyn College, where he founded the student-led Study Abroad Scholarship Association (SASA) to offer scholarships to 10 students every semester to defray the costs of international study. Later, he became the economic director of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and started consulting.
While at Cornell, Browne took more than 21 credits one semester while he tended to his mother, who was diagnosed with a serious health condition. He also served as president of the Philip Payton Society for Minority Real Estate Professionals and established a case competition for students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs); it grew to become the largest student-led competition of its kind.
“At Cornell, I wanted to get the technical skills and a bespoke understanding of real estate, hotels, and resorts,” Browne said. “The Baker Program and the Cornell Hotelie community gave me the opportunity to do that.” He added that three conferences—Caribbean Hotel Investment & Conference & Operations (CHICOS); Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS); and the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD)—were formative experiences during his graduate education.
“I want to do my part in making the Caribbean an even more desirable hospitality destination than it already is, and I am looking for ways to enrich the region,” he said. “I know this region very well, and I can blend that with my economic expertise and my knowledge of transactions and deal structuring. I thought, ‘Wow—this could be my superpower.’”