March 6, 2015

Brittany Dierken

Generation Next: Chris Brozina, Mark-Taylor

When Chris Brozina, vice president of Mark-Taylor, worked as a broker at CBRE, his team transacted more than $1.59B of multifamily transactions in seven states. In 2011, he made the decision to move into development with Mark-Taylor. He reveals to AZRE his steps to climbing the ladder of success, while sustaining his humility and connecting with his employees on a personal level.

Have you always been interested in real estate or did you start on a different career path?
As a young person coming into the industry in 2007, right into the teeth of the Great Recession, I was a young kid who didn’t have any money and didn’t have a whole lot to lose. The timing probably allowed the opportunity to accelerate through the ranks a little faster than what otherwise would have been the case.

Where did your real estate career start?
I started as a researcher and runner in the brokerage industry. In other words, a grunt. I did a lot of research, familiarizing myself with the lingo of the industry, and made cold calls like crazy. I absolutely started in the most un-glamorous role you can start in. I’d never know at the time just how valuable that time was.

What the biggest risk you have taken in your career?
I switched careers from being a broker at a very well-respected large company to the development world and Mark-Taylor. At the time, it was a major risk personally, because I was leaving something that I was starting to see a lot of success doing and a place I was really happy, with very respected brokerage partners. I thought I was going to be a broker for the rest of my life and I treated it that way. As is usually the case, the opportunity at Mark-Taylor hit me at a time when I certainly wasn’t expecting it. It was the brokers I worked with that gave me the perspective to understand what this opportunity meant. In retrospect, there is zero question that this has been the right move for me and something I see doing for the rest of my life.

What qualities do you think successful business leaders and mentors should have?
You become a leader only because people choose to follow you. At the end of the day, you can have any title you want behind your name but if people don’t choose to follow you you’re not leading anybody. That is the way I approach everything.

What advice would you give to a college graduate wanting to work in the real estate industry?
The advice I would have above all else to new college graduates: salary should be the furthest thing from your mind and your entire focus should be on finding a company where they are willing to teach you. You’re going to meet a lot of people in this industry that are constantly sniffing around looking to move companies. I would think that attitude is a pretty big turn-off to executives. Whatever you decide to do, whether you see it as a long-term career or a short-term job, act like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life. That passion and preparation is going to be palpable and is going to bring opportunities your way that you would never find if you were out there trying to seek opportunities on your own.