Exclusive Q&A: Brookfield Office Properties VP On Recent Deals, Lessons Learned From Football
Brookfield Properties VP of leasing James Malone is more than meets the eye. The former pro football player and lawyer is among the all-star panelists scheduled to speak at Bisnow's Los Angeles Annual Office Forum event April 6 at Hollywood 959 in the Hollywood Media District.
James was a UCLA linebacker who played pro football before setting his sights on law school. After practicing law for three years, a real estate opportunity came calling, and he hasn't looked back since. We caught up with James (here with his wife, Shelly, daughter, Jordan, and son, Jackson) to talk deals and lessons learned on the field and off.
Bisnow: How did you first get involved in the industry?
James Malone: I was practicing law at firm in Santa Monica doing litigation work. However, I had always been interested in real estate and real estate development. I had a number of friends and acquaintances in the business, and I started to network with them, like any young professional would. It was through those relationships that I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to work at a development company where I learned so much about the business.
Bisnow: What is your company's strategy?
James Malone: Brookfield is a dynamic company when it comes to our approach to real estate and how we seek to create value. On a macro level, we are similar in many ways to a large REIT in that we are focused on creating long-term value for our shareholders and investor partners. We are different though, because we have diversified the types of assets we own. Since I joined a little over two years ago, Brookfield has acquired assets in almost every product type imaginable.
Here in our Downtown Los Angeles portfolio, you will see us looking to create outstanding places to work by providing the best possible service and amenities for our customers. It starts with how we attract them to our buildings and how we treat them once they are in our assets. For example, we curate a number of arts programs and events at our buildings year around. We are looking to add more programs and amenities that make our buildings and projects a place to enjoy when you are not in the office.
Bisnow: Do you see that strategy changing in the next year?
James Malone: I think you will see us continuing what we have been doing for the foreseeable future.
Bisnow: Please tell us about some of Brookfield's latest projects.
James Malone: Last year, we created DesignHive, which allowed us to create forward-thinking office spaces in our high-rise buildings. The project was great for us, because it helped change the perception of what kind of spaces you can create in a high-rise office building. As a result, we have some great young startups in our buildings to go along with more traditional users that want hip space. We plan on creating more DesignHive spaces this year as well. Currently, we are renovating the lobbies of the Wells Fargo Center's North Tower (333 Grand Ave) and The Gas Company Tower (555 W 5th). We have plans to update some of our other projects over the next two to three years.
Bisnow: You were an NFL draft pick?
James Malone: Yes, I was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1992 as the 148th pick. (James is pictured shark fishing in Charleston, SC.)
Bisnow: Are there lessons you learned on the field that help you with your corporate career now?
James Malone: I started playing organized sports in the first grade. I played probably six or seven different team sports as a kid for at least one season and my dad, the coaches and fathers that I played for over my entire career had a very positive effect on me. As you get older and sports go from fun with your friends to a serious game to a business, you learn a lot about yourself and life.
It sounds cliche, but it's true. Learning to compete no matter the situation and how to learn from wins and losses parallels business every day. There are moments I remember from almost every level of play that have no doubt shaped my business life. I think the most important lesson I've learned from sports is that you have to prepare yourself for the things you can't control. Whether it's a play in a game, an issue in the course of a deal or a situation in everyday life, it's about how do you handle adversity. Each time you persevere through things, you come out of it better prepared for the next situation.
Bisnow: What are some of your favorite things to do when you're not working?
James Malone: I have two young kids, so they keep me and my wife (pictured here, watching the UCLA Bruins beat Texas in "Jerry's World") entertained daily. When we get some down time, we catch up on our favorite shows on the DVR and on Netflix. We have a great group of friends that we get to hang out with pretty regularly. And, I am football junkie. Having NFL games back in LA this fall is going to be awesome.