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Close Up With Mark O'Donnell

Houston Office

He earned NAIOP’s office deal of the year and was just named Studley’s national top producer. We sat down with Studley EVP Mark O’Donnell to unravel what’s in his secret sauce for success. (And to take a gander at those trophies; our little league softball medal has lost its shine.)


Mark tells us he got into real estate because of his mom, who passed away around the time he graduated from college. He was looking for a sales position with no salary so he could feel his efforts paid dividends. (He must also enjoy unharnessed tight rope walking.) She owned Clear Lake’s biggest residential real estate company, and he saw her entrepreneurial freedom and success and decided to give real estate a shot. He started off on the landlord side, leasing office buildings (he focused primarily on 1010 Lamar) for Coltex with John Pruitt and Michelle Wogan. But he felt limited, so he switched to tenant rep, where his ability and knowledge is his product.


Mark (here with his family in Moab) quickly gravitated to tenant rep Derrell Curry, forming a partnership that still exists today. He says he’s done one or two major HQs a year for the last decade. Last year, that included Statoil’s 581k SF at CityWestPlace and Bechtel’s 567k SF renewal at Lakes on Post Oak. Mark tells us Statoil was probably the most complicated deal he’s ever done. It involved two buildings, two landlord entities (one of which was undergoing a merger), and two separate lenders. (When you have that many spices in the soup, you better have a light touch.) He gave the big building a stable, long-term lease and the small building the incredible flexibility Statoil craved, which threw the lenders for a loop. Another twist: amending three deed restrictions on the campus.


Mark is co-branch manager with Mark Russell and tells us he gets great satisfaction from being a leader at Studley and growing the company (this office has already quadrupled in ten years). Above, Mark and Mark are with Studley prez Michael Colacino at the Numero Uno top producer ceremony; Mark’s prize was a trip to play at Augusta, which he calls the best possible gift for him. He’s passionate about the game and has played all the notable top 20 courses except Augusta. Golf has taken a back seat lately to his two boys. (He lies awake at night thinking about how best to coach their baseball games.)

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