Cornell Real Estate Club Visits Industry Leaders in Boston
By Dhruv Jetley ’26 and Amber de Saint-Exupéry ’26
In October 2023 the Cornell Real Estate Club (CREC) traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to engage with real estate industry professionals at various firms. The group visited Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Pyramid Global Hospitality, JLL, and TA Realty. The career trek was an invaluable opportunity to network, obtain real world exposure, gain company insights, and learn more about the Boston real estate market. Thank you to the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration’s Center for Real Estate and Finance (CREF) for their continuous support and this career trek opportunity!
Alexandria Real Estate Equities
The first visit on our trek was Alexandria Real Estate Equities, a real estate investment trust that primarily invests in life science buildings throughout the United States. We were warmly greeted by Mr. Andy Reinach ’91, a civil engineer who leads life science construction in the Boston area. Mr. Reinach spoke to us about Alexandria’s past and ongoing development projects in Boston, with a particular focus on the nuances of the development process. Moreover, the speakers emphasized that even though they might not be directly involved in developing the next breakthrough drug or vaccine, they operate and invest in the spaces for these innovations to happen. Following this enlightening presentation, we had the opportunity to explore their properties around their Boston office on a beautifully sunny day.
Pyramid Global Hospitality
Our trek to Pyramid Global Hospitality began with a visit to the Boston Harbor Hotel, which included a tour of the hotel’s beautiful presidential suite. Then, we had the opportunity to meet with Pyramid’s investment and operations team at the company’s office. Ms. Nala Holmes ’12 discussed her role in hotel acquisitions and development, highlighting a few interesting deals she had worked on. Her presentation offered a glimpse into how our undergraduate education translates into real-world experience. Additionally, Pyramid CEO Warren Fields ’85 and CIO Chris Devine spoke about their executive roles and wide-ranging experiences in the industry, advising us as we think about our future careers.
During our visit to JLL, we gained valuable insights into the company’s strong commitment to a people-first culture, their ESG strategies, and their initiatives to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. One aspect that particularly caught my attention was the transformative impact of GPT models on the real estate industry, where they are employed to assess properties and estimate their valuation. JLL recently introduced the first GPT model specifically designed for commercial real estate, marking a noteworthy advancement in the field. We had the opportunity to engage with a wide spectrum of individuals, from top executives at these firms to young analysts who were just a few years ahead of CREC Trek participants, connecting with an incredibly remarkable and diverse group of professionals.
At TA Realty, we were hosted by Ms. Lisa Strope ’91, who directs real estate research at the firm. We heard a presentation from managing partners and directors in TA’s different divisions, including acquisitions, asset management, research, and ESG. We learned about the various career paths in the real estate industry, as well as the similarities and differences between different roles.
Feedback as attendees
Dhruv Jetley ’26 (AEM)
The CREC Boston trek offered a unique glance into the opportunities and rewards of a career in real estate. On our first visit to Pyramid Hotels, we got the chance to speak to various executives about their roles, experience, and career advice. I found it fascinating to see the concepts we learn in class applied in a real-world setting. At TA Realty, we were exposed to different sectors and asset classes within the real estate industry. Hearing from former investment bankers and former Top Gun pilots, it was eye-opening to see the wide range of early paths leading to a career in real estate. Overall, I really enjoyed visiting these companies, and I am grateful for the opportunity to engage with industry professionals!
Amber de Saint-Exupéry ’26
The CREC Trek was an immensely impactful two-day experience in my professional journey. Stepping into the dynamic and cutting-edge offices of Alexandria Real Estate Equities and JLL was truly eye-opening. This trek was not just a rundown of Boston’s real estate landscape but a transformative journey that allowed us to connect with inspiring professionals. Their advice, experiences, and wisdom gave us a glimpse of the exciting possibilities that await us in the world of real estate. The warm welcome at Alexandria Real Estate Equities and their dedication to nurturing innovation left a profound impression on me, underscoring the pivotal role that industry professionals can play in creating spaces for scientific discoveries. JLL’s commitment to a people-first culture and their groundbreaking use of GPT models in property valuation illuminated the transformative nature of the industry. Overall, I am incredibly grateful for the incredible opportunity we had this weekend in Boston.
Amber de Saint-Exupéry ’26
Amber de Saint-Exupéry is a sophomore studying Hotel Administration. She has interned in real estate at Fortress Investment Group and HudsonPoint Group. On campus, she serves as a member of the Cornell Real Estate Club Executive Board. She enjoys creative writing and tennis.
Dhruv Jetley ’26 (AEM)
Dhruv Jetley is a sophomore studying applied economics and management with a minor in real estate. Last summer, he interned at a small real estate private equity company focusing on asset management of industrial properties in New Jersey. On campus, he is an executive board member of the Cornell Real Estate Club. Outside of school, he enjoys working out, hiking, and listening to music.