Aspiring sports agent bets on a real estate career
Chris Drew embraces the sports mentality of putting the work in commercial real estate.
Chris Drew, Co-Head of the JLL Miami Capital Markets office, embraces the sports mentality of putting the work in, betting on yourself, and building a strong team to be the absolute best you can be.
His passion for sports is why Chris initially pursued a degree in sports management. In fact, he worked for the New York Mets in marketing and promotions throughout college. How did an aspiring sports agent become a Senior Managing Director in Capital Markets?
The pivot began while he was working for the Mets. His persistence in making phone calls helped him land a summer internship for the organization’s minor league baseball. He always volunteered for special projects and made sure to be the first person in and last out. Impressed with his work ethic, the organization invited him to keep working. Chris primarily worked in marketing and promotions or assisted with player personnel moves.
Working with the Mets organization was fun and informative. He wore many hats and acquired various sales skills.
Still, Chris felt like he wanted to be more well-rounded. He felt an understanding of finance and negotiations would help him succeed in any environment and give him more career options. Chris decided to continue his studies with an MBA in finance and business law at the University of Miami.
A career fair changed his trajectory.
“I didn’t even know what commercial real estate was until that career fair when I first saw and engaged with these different companies,” said Chris. “I started receiving a lot of offers out of business school. At the time, my aunt worked in real estate through JPMorgan Chase. She knew these major firms and could speak to the work.”
Through discussions, Chris saw careers in commercial real estate and sports management shared a required high degree of skill in contract negotiation and finance. However, real estate presented a better entrepreneurial opportunity to grow based on his ability and work ethic.
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“I knew I had a good personality and sales skills, and I understood the market,” said Chris. “I thought my ability to think three-dimensionally about real estate, coupled with an intellectual curiosity and the ability to bring investors and capital providers together lent itself better to capital markets.”
Capital markets fully engaged Chris’s financial acumen and sales experience, while tapping into his ability to bring people together on a team that delivered results for everyone.
He was doing well when the recession hit in 2008. After some deal losses, Chris considered getting out of the space. Chris shared his thoughts with Danny Finkle, a fellow real estate professional working at HFF, now JLL.
“He shared the player-coach mentality and the culture at JLL,” said Chris. “When I met the rest of the team, I was impressed by the collaboration and mentorship opportunities. I told my wife that it’s on me if I can’t be successful at JLL with the resources, tools, and training available.”
Chris likes to say he is the same hard-working person he was before but moving to JLL supercharged his career. He was a tenth of the producer he is today, having completed more than $10 billion in real estate transactions.
"The one thing I have always appreciated about JLL is that they allow you to be as good as you can be,” said Chris. “It’s the full suite of tools, technology, experience, and mentorship working together to enable you to reach your full potential.”
He cites the team construct of JLL Capital Markets as probably the most enjoyable part of his work.
“In sports, you’re typically only as strong as your weakest link,” said Chris. “Here, we have a team dedicated to pushing each other to be as good as possible. Our goal is to compete against our competitors to be the best, and we do that by lifting each other up.”
As someone who always wanted to be a football coach, Chris uses his position as Co-Head of the Miami Office to give back and mentor others. Each day, he is energized from working with other talented and motivated individuals in commercial real estate. Seeing their successes is rewarding and inspires him to keep pushing to be the best.
Chris learned from his time at the Mets that you need to have a passion for what you’re doing and be willing to work hard. “You can set your goals high. If you have the right skillset, bet on yourself. With a little bit of luck and hard work, you can achieve your goals.”