“Find something that you really like … the old idiom, find a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
This was career advice offered by speaker David Lee, CFA, portfolio manager in the Equity Division of T. Rowe Price, and president, T. Rowe Price Real Estate Fund, at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School’s annual Allan L. Berman Lecture, held May 2, 2018. Lee, who also serves on the school’s Real Estate Advisory Board, began his career as an engineer at IBM, but soon found himself drawn to business, developing a “passion” for investing and the workings of the real estate industry.
2018 Allan L. Berman Lecture
David Lee, CFA, is portfolio manager in the Equity Division of T. Rowe Price, and president, T. Rowe Price Real Estate Fund. Lee was the featured speaker at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School’s annual Allan L. Berman Lecture, held May 2, 2018.
I love the tangible nature of real estate, and love the people and characters,” said Lee. “A lot of what I do is investing with people. I think we’re value creators. Nobody leaves this industry because it’s so much fun.
“Relationships are extremely important in real estate,” he added. “I love how collegial it is.” Even when competitors convene at conferences and other industry events, Lee noted, people are cordial and collaborative. “It’s reflective of the industry as very friendly.”
Lee began running T. Rowe Price’s Real Estate Fund upon its inception in October 1997, making him one of the longest-tenured real estate fund managers in the industry. During that time, the fund has grown from two million dollars to seven billion dollars in assets, achieving the highest qualitative rating from Morningstar Inc. In 2008, Lee launched the firm’s first global real estate fund, which he subsequently managed for six years.
Asked about the future of the industry, Lee commented, “Real estate is still a wonderful asset class. It’s still about location, location, location … The basic tenets of success are still there, which is investing in good assets run by good teams that have good balance sheets.
Lee cited his previous experience in engineering, sales, and investment banking in building solid career experience and options as he eventually gravitated toward real estate. When assessing talent in the industry, he is wary of those with a “failure of imagination.” Experience in investing involves taking “hard knocks,” he observed.
“Take chances” in your career, Lee advised, “but take calculated chances.”
Allan L. Berman was a Baltimore-based real estate entrepreneur and diamond merchant, possessing a keen interest in real estate along with an intuitive talent for recognizing development opportunities. After his death, the Berman family’s gift to Johns Hopkins in his memory allowed for the creation of the Jean R. and Allan L. Berman Auditorium as well as the Allan L. Berman Institute for Real Estate Development. The institute has acted as a catalyst for research initiatives, conferences, visiting speakers, and new and expanded programs in real estate, including the Johns Hopkins master of science in real estate degree. The annual Allan L. Berman lecture honors the Berman family for their generosity and dedication to higher education and devotion to community.