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‘Never Stop Learning:’ Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker On Bisnow’s Elevate Retreat, Aug. 16-18

Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker

From Aug. 16-18, the rising stars of the commercial real estate world will gather at the 1 Hotel in Nashville to network and build connections with future leaders of the industry while getting advice from some of the biggest names in CRE. They will be attending Elevate, a new invite-only conference in Bisnow's Escape and Ascent series, which have become known as premier events for top owners, developers and investors from across the country.

One of several CRE behemoths who will be passing on their wisdom to the next generation at Elevate is the chairman and CEO of Walker & Dunlop, Willy Walker. Established in 1937, Walker & Dunlop is one of the largest commercial real estate finance and advisory services firms in the country.

Under Walker’s leadership, the company has grown from 23 employees in 2003 — when he first joined as chief operating officer — to more than 1,300 employees in 44 offices across the U.S.  

Despite the fact that Walker’s grandfather, Oliver Walker, had started the firm and his father, Mallory Walker, served as CEO, he did not take the easy path to leadership.

After earning his bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University in 1989 and his MBA at Harvard six years later, Walker traveled the world, working as the general manager of ALTA, a regional airline based in Argentina, before holding a variety of senior positions at business process outsourcing firm TeleTech Holdings Inc., including president of Latin American and European operations. 

When his father began to prepare to step down as CEO of Walker & Dunlop after 29 years, Walker returned home to take the company in a new direction. In 2020, he told Bisnow that it was always his goal to lead a major global corporation and his family company was not on that scale at the time. He took the years of experience he had gained out on his own, however, and put it to use turning Walker & Dunlop into the massive, influential organization it is today. 

“I had an immediate desire to transform the company so that no one could ever say, ‘Willy just inherited this company and stepped into his father’s footsteps,’” Walker told Bisnow

Walker assumed the role of CEO in 2007, and succeeded in his quest to transform the company, turning the small family mortgage business into one that is ​​traded on the New York Stock Exchange. He not only understands what it takes to run a major company, but also how to build a successful career on your own terms. He will be sharing his story at Elevate, as well as his tips on how the next generation of CRE leaders can build their own success stories. 

“Find a mentor, take appropriate career risks and never stop learning,” Walker said. 

To hear more advice from Walker and other industry leaders, attend curated group sessions with a focus on region, asset class and deal size, and build a network that will support your CRE career for decades to come, apply here to attend Elevate

This story was produced by Studio B, Bisnow’s in-house content and design studio. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.