Despite attending a university with a renowned commercial real estate school, a suggestion by an eager job-recruiter made Rick Collins aware of an industry that he would eventually take part in leading.

When he was working at IBM in the 1980s, Collins was looking to leave the computer world. He saw a right fit in the world of CRE due to his experience in working with companies making large financial decisions.

“Without that recommendation, I might have stayed on the financial side of the computer industry or something else,” Collins says.

By 1999, 14 years into his CRE career, Collins started working for Ryan Companies in Minneapolis, garnering experience in office, medical office, hotel, mixed-use and other development types.

In 2014, Collins found himself moving to Arizona, a difficult task considering the amazing relationships that he built over the years with local officials and business leaders. But ultimately his move was a great one as it allowed him to tackle new responsibilities and career challenges.

Since taking the helm here, Collins works to expand what Ryan Companies is known for in the Arizona region – build-to-suit projects.

In just three years, Collins led Ryan Companies’ expansion into retail and other development products locally. Collins is proud to note that about 22 of the 70 team members who worked on the completed Marina Heights project are now in Seattle, as part of Ryan Companies’ Northwest expansion that he personally oversees.

At home, Collins enjoys golf, boating and traveling with his wife. He’s a huge Elton John fan, and once upon a time, Collins worked the turntables at nightclubs in Wisconsin during the height of the disco era.

Since he has moved here, Collins has enjoyed the open arms of the Arizona community, which has one of the best meritocracies for a major city, Collins says. It doesn’t matter where you grew up, or which club you’re a member of in Arizona, he says.

“It’s more about, are you willing to get involved?” Collins asks. “If so, volunteer, pitch-in, put your shoulder to the wheel, add value and you’ll have opportunities to continue adding value.”