The IUM MBA: rigorous studies with a business and entrepreneurial focus in a multicultural setting!

Toni Steele Goldman SachsAs part of the Alumni career follow up program, IUM ensures it stays up to date with the careers of our alumni. To this end, IUM recently met with Toni Steele, an IUM MBA alumna and Vice President of Acquisitions and Asset Management for Goldman Sachs (Realty Management Division), USA.

Hello Toni! you graduated from your IUM MBA in 1994…why have you chosen this program at the time?

My choice for the IUM MBA resulted from my desire, as a working professional at the time, to focus full time on rigorous studies with a business and entrepreneurial focus in a multicultural setting that would lead me back to the working world within a year or so.  Circumstances at the time were such I had been accepted into NY University, but for family reasons I needed to accelerate my graduate studies.  As  I desired ultimately to return to Europe to work,  Monaco was a natural choice with its coursework and schedule,  access to an international faculty and leading professors or business leaders from around the world with interesting and distinguished colleagues from a variety of backgrounds and life experience – and Monaco itself with its truly unique and special international setting and citizenry, its strategic location and all its cultural offerings and events.

You are now working with Goldman Sachs. Could you describe your job position? 

My job position at Goldman Sachs affords me the opportunity to engage in a dynamic variety of real estate pursuits historically – where I have been privileged to enjoy a stimulating and creative work environment – that’s rewarding on many levels and ever evolving.  It has been especially satisfying working with very talented individuals from around the world  on a wide range of projects with the common goals of providing excellent investment stewardship through innovation and early identification of industry and macroeconomic trends or emerging macroeconomic factors.   These efforts are  toward optimizing opportunities across real estate sectors while maximizing project performance and risk management for our clients and the firm.MBA business and entrepreneurial focus

We work  collaboratively — on product specific as well as intra departmental and varying local, national or international projects.   In recent years I was engaged in Europe where I served as an expat for approximately 13 years – first in Italy overseeing  our real estate portfolios there (including set up of the real estate asset management platform and investment oversight in collaboration with a local operating partner and international management team).  Additionally, I served as a director in Germany for a new platform creation where I was responsible for loan related real estate and various commercial real estate office and retail investments.

Today my scope of responsibilities is concentrated on commercial real estate investment pursuits at the institutional level (comprised largely of office product, but can also include for our divisional team, team retail, warehouse, industrial, life science and multifamily/residential product).  RMD as a whole focuses upon opportunities globally – and is set up with geographic or product type coverage within certain regions or countries and within different positions of capital stacks (part of direct equity or debt – primary lending, mezzanine or acquisition of debt).

My current focus area is the Southern California region—for acquisition opportunities of properties,  new development or redevelopment of office product, and capital repositioning of equity or debt.  Post-acquisition, my role responsibilities include overseeing operating partners and the asset management requirements of the portfolio through hold and disposition.

My professional goals are to continue expanding my firm’s opportunities through new emerging trends (technological, industrial and macroeconomic) that can be capitalized upon to further serve our clients, to allow Goldman to remain a marketplace leader.  Personally, I look forward to continuing to teach and mentor our next generation of colleagues and women leaders, while endeavoring to find more impactful ways in which to better serve our clients and the communities in which I have the great privilege of working.  This reflects not only my personal objectives but is part of the culture and organizational values at the heart of Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs Toni SteelWhat are the main positive impacts of the IUM MBA ? 

The International MBA program provided wonderful opportunities to work in a diverse environment with colleagues of multicultural and multilingual backgrounds and varying professional backgrounds – and to forge friendships and contacts for a lifetime with others from many parts of the globe.  The program often focused on team projects which underscored the realities of a needed collaborative approach in today’s business settings, with clear communication and recognizing the importance of different viewpoints and approaches to problem solving toward reaching better solutions.

What was your previous education (before your IUM MBA) and professional background before your current job position?

My college education prior to coming to IUM was comprised of a bachelor degree in broadcast communications from Pepperdine University with oversees studies completed in Heidelberg, Germany, during my junior year and  additional real estate industry coursework at UCLA once I entered the real estate profession.   My career background includes working in real estate development and asset management, on a range of product types and projects including public/private sector joint ventures and urban redevelopment initiatives for Hollywood and a local Los Angeles area school district.

 How do you see yourself in 5, 10 years?  

I love what I do and plan to continue actively expanding my experience and involvement in commercial real estate and active participation in the development of the next generation of real estate professionals and urban projects to serve the changing world with its evolving generational needs and new connectivity that is changing how we all live, work and play.  It’s a very exciting time of change that will continue to impact all of us.

Goldman Sachs Toni SteeleWhat type of advice would you give to students who would like to enter in the industry you are working in? 

Be curious and broaden your life experiences while always challenging yourself  – the more you are open to and aware of the world around you and your own capabilities, the more you provide yourself the opportunity for richer life experiences, better insightfulness into people and
enhanced awareness overall in the potential of everyone.  This, along with quantitative skills, will allow you to become more creative in your approach to problem solving and realizing potential opportunities, while providing you you a heightened understanding of the complexities of real estate with its technical rigor, but which is often applied as a balance of art as much as science.

What is your favorite book?   

My current favorite books are “The Rise of the Creative Class” and “Cities and Creative Class”. The books share the importance historically and today of creativity, diversity, tolerance and their role in societal innovation and role in successful working (and living) environments – a powerful reality which is relevant in the more and more connected world and growing urban setting in which we live today and our children will likely live tomorrow.

What is your favorite quote?

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine”. From Turing in “The Imitation Game”

 Thank you for sharing your insights with us Toni! 

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