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Heavy Hitters Share Their First Jobs

Los Angeles

In honor of Labor Day, we told you earlier this week about how some prominent commercial real estate execs from around the country got their start in the biz. Today, we have some LA-area VIPs. Colony Capital chairman Tom Barrack tells us real estate wasn't initially his chosen field. He began his career as a lawyer focusing on finance, and was sent to the Middle East and Saudi Arabia; some years later, one of his clients there had a real estate issue. "And that's how I started, but it wasn't because I was dying to be a real estate man."

J.H. Snyder Co senior partner Jerry Snyder began working for his father, a remodeling contractor, at age 18. However, he wasn't getting paid, because his dad thought providing a roof over his head in lieu of wages was a pretty good deal. "I said, 'OK Pop, I'm going to go into business for myself,' and I did." Jerry started out as a homebuilder; his first major project was an 88-unit development in Orange County, where he built and sold houses for $10k and $11k. (In the early 1950s, those kinds of bucks included the lot and some orange trees.) His first major commercial project? Buying the Museum Square property on LA's Miracle Mile from Prudential in 1978.

Palisades Capital Realty Advisors managing principal Joaquin de Monet grew up in a real estate family—his grandfather was a real estate investor and his father was a developer in the Bay Area. By the age of 13, Joaquin was helping his dad put in baseboard. In high school and college during the summers, he was doing TI work for his dad, including work on a building not far from Palisades' office on Wilshire Boulevard. That said, Joaquin considers his first job to be working as a loan officer for Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. It was the late '80s recession, he recalls, so he did a lot of loan workouts.