Sunil Madan joined the Steers Center for Global Real Estate as associate director in September 2015, following 20 years working in the United States, Europe, and Asia in the private sector. Madan will help to build out the center's areas of real estate debt and international strategy and will teach the Real Estate Public Debt course.
Q&A with Sunil Madan
Welcome to the McDonough School of Business! What are you most excited about in your new position as associate director for the Steers Center for Global Real Estate?
Two things excite me most. Throughout my career, I have worked with well-established institutions that were growing rapidly. The Steers Center for Global Real Estate is a very good program already. Building it out further, particularly internationally, is exciting to me.
Additionally, I am looking forward to the mentorship aspect and working directly with students. I don’t think mentoring stops with graduation – the wonderful thing about having a center is that the relationships begin when they enter the program and can last throughout their careers. Setting up those relationships is one of the key reasons this job appealed to me.
In your 20 years of experience in the private sector, what are some of the biggest changes you have seen in the real estate industry?
The first was when I saw how the commercial real estate (CRE) industry was inextricably linked to global financial markets. That was in 1998 when Russia defaulted on its debt and, for no clear reason, the CRE debt markets took a big hit.
The second change I’ve seen is, as I’ve gone to work outside of the U.S., how the financial technology used in the U.S. capital markets can be used overseas. The systems need to be tweaked to adjust for local laws and practices, but the same technology can be used in Europe, as well as in Asia.
And the third change is more recent with new regulations impacting banks and private equity funds. Non-banks and financial companies are starting to play a much larger role in the debt capital flows in real estate.
What are a few highlights of your career?
I joined both Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank right as they were growing their presence in CRE, so my first highlight was working on some of the industry’s first ever transactions and structures. Each bank grew to reach the top of the CRE league tables so I was fortunate to be involved in a large volume of deals. At Deutsche Bank, I worked on numerous structured arbitrage transactions and the acquisition of a large GSE lender, which were very rewarding. I ran the bank’s real estate debt business in Japan was another high -- it was just an incredible experience. The last highlight that sticks out would be my managing a global portfolio of real estate assets, which allowed me to get direct exposure to private equity and asset management.
What led you to jump from private sector to higher education?
I am excited to educate new professionals and leaders for a bigger and more challenging real estate market. This sector has seen a growth spurt in global volume in the past two decades, and this will continue as global wealth increases. Simultaneously, the execution and funding of transactions has become more sophisticated. We now see many more global players and funds taking a very active role in almost every region.
Training has been a large part of my career and I have always enjoyed mentoring associates and analysts. When I saw this opportunity it definitely looked like something I’d be interested in pursuing. Then I met with Matt, and heard him enthusiastically describe his vision for the Center and the tremendous support it has received. This is different from anything I have done before, and the Steers Center is the perfect environment for me to join.
Why did you choose to work at Georgetown?
My sister and brother-in-law both went to Georgetown, so I already knew the university and its global outlook, which is part of its DNA. Additionally, I went to a Jesuit school in Mumbai for 11 years, so I am familiar with, and an admirer of, the Jesuit education system. The culture at Georgetown seemed like a perfect fit for me, and the right incubator for a growing real estate center. My view for the future of the Steers Center for Global Real Estate completely matches Matt’s and I am delighted to be part of it.