Gregory Valladao
Senior Managing Direct/Market Leader, Cushman & Wakefield Arizona

Years in CRE: 17
Years at company: 3.5

What was it about the industry that attracted you?  
I heard how great “closing dinners” were, and I was hooked. Seriously, in the mid-1990s I was grinding out billable hours as a litigation attorney when I had a relative suggest I look into commercial real estate. Knowing that Phoenix was going to continue to grow, I was intrigued by the idea. After quickly realizing how entrepreneurial the business was, I was convinced it was the place for me. Within a matter of days I left my well-compensated law firm job to take a runnership at Grubb & Ellis that paid $16,000 a year. It was one of the most frightening, but best decisions I ever made.

How has the industry changed since you started?
The industry has become more data driven than it was originally. Real estate decisions today are often made based upon pure “metrics” rather than the gut instinct that many developers tended to rely upon. This has been driven by the large amount of available data on the internet as well as the lending institution demands. While personal relationships still play a large role in the industry, these changes have forced everyone to become a little smarter, which is great for the industry.

Of what professional achievement are you most proud?
Having had the opportunity to participate in brokerage, development and management over a 17-year career, and the long-standing relationships I have developed are my proudest achievements. From my perspective, I am very fortunate to be in a strong, collegial market where I can still consider some of my fiercest competitors good friends. There are very few places that can be found, especially in the hyper-competitive real estate industry.