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The View from the Top: Insights from Matt Slepin (Summer 2021)

Welcome back to the Terra Search Partners newsletter. It has been a while, although we’ve been busy and in communication via other means, primarily our twice a month releases of Leading Voices in Real Estate podcasts. With the pandemic now under (hopeful) control and people returning to the office, we are returning to occasional Terra Search Partners’ newsletters. With this new newsletter, we are excited to share what has been happening with Terra over the past couple of months, our recent placements, updates from LVRE, and our view on the people side of our commercial real estate industry as we come out of the pandemic.

Covid’s Impact on Real Estate Recruitment

In 2008, when GFC hit, and the real estate business locked up, our search business tumbled. When the world closed down in March 2020, remembering the pain of the past several cycles, we were prepared for the worst. That was not the case during the balance of 2020 and, so far, 2021 has been strong for us and strong for most of our clients. We believe, in our return to somewhat normal, that the overall real estate business and the health of the firms in our business is quite positive, and that hiring and growth is at least at normal, if not busier than average pace. Indeed, we have seen a greater need for leadership and succession at senior levels, both because of the continued towards institutional capabilities and for companies to seek best practices through hiring upgrades, but also due to timing out of the baby boomer leadership cohort.

With that, the business is moving and evolving. Cities are not at all dead, but there will be increased growth in suburban areas as well as increased focus on what were previously considered secondary and tertiary locations. Importantly, the industry is finally focusing on the environmental and sustainability needs of new and existing portfolios, on the overdue move towards equity and diversity in the business, and meaningful secular changes in each of the primary real estate food groups. In the multifamily business, where we spend much of our time, mainstream players are developing approaches towards housing affordability in addition to the higher end of the market. All of this fuels growth for the need for increasingly sophisticated and flexible leadership in the real estate industry.

Our Continued Growth at Terra Search

While recognizing some of the shifts with the real estate industry externally, there have also been some major changes with Terra internally.  To better reflect our position as one of the leading national search firms dedicated to the real estate business, Terra refreshed our brand with a new logo and new website for both Terra Search and for Leading Voices. Additionally, within the year, we have brought in three new team members: Becky Regan as Managing Director and co-head of our Affordable Housing and Community Development practice area, Sarah Dunn, Principal in search execution, and Sheryl Walton, Project Coordinator. With Becky and Sheryl both based in Boston, half of our team is now based on the East Coast, further supporting our work across the real estate industry and our national geographic footprint.

Thought Leadership through Leading Voices in Real Estate

We are continuing our commitment to thought leadership in the industry via our Leading Voices in Real Estate podcast, now on our fifth year and closing in on our 100th episode. Through the podcast, we are providing focused conversations with industry leaders with deep dives on their work in these interesting times as well as an exploration of their career journeys. The podcast spans conversations with industry legends like Gerald Hines, Sam Zell, Art Gensler, Ron Terwilliger to sector leaders like Jim Risoleo in hospitality (Host Hotels), Bill Stein in data centers (Digital Realty Trust), Jeff Berkes and Ken Bernstein in retail (Federal Realty Investment Trust and Acadia Realty Trust), Keith Oden and Leonard Wood in apartments (Camden and Wood Partners) and Tammy Jones in debt and equity investments (Basis Investment Group). Additionally, LVRE has featured other leaders in core functions of the business like Mitchell Silver in planning (NYC Parks Commissioner), Andy Cohen in architecture and design (Gensler), Doug Bibby in leadership in the apartment industry (NMHC), and young leaders like Ricardo Pagan (Claridge Partners) and Cedric Bobo (Project Destined). The Leading Voices archives provide a wide view of work that we do across the real estate industry and amazing insights from successful leaders on how they have built their careers.

Our Continued Commitment to DEI in the Real Estate Industry

In addition to COVID and an increased focus on the environmental footprint of the real estate industry, this past year has brought a sincere reckoning in our society and in the real estate industry on racial and social equity. The real estate industry has largely rallied around the mandate for change in the business with the requirement for more diverse teams in the Boardroom, in the Executive Suite and throughout our companies, and the ways in which our businesses serve our clients. This has always been a value in how Terra Search executes its business, but now an absolute mandate to provide options for diversity within our search practice. 100%.

The Terra Search team has been long-time leaders in the business on these topics. Ellen Klasson was recently elected Chair of the Urban Land Institute’s Women’s Leadership Initiative and Bill Whitlow is an active member of the National Multifamily Housing Council’s Diversity Committee. You might also have heard the Leading Voices episode, released in July 2020, Conversations with Six Black Leaders as well as numerous Leading Voices conversations with women and leaders of color in the business, demonstrating pathways to success in the business for women and leaders of color. We know how important our leadership and these conversations are to drive the positive change in our industry and will continue to create more opportunities that will create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive teams.

Want to learn more about what’s happening at Terra Search? Head to our News & Resources page to learn about the diverse group of executives we’ve recently placed, understand how we’re working to invigorate social change through real estate, and listen to the complete library of episodes from the LVRE podcast. And of course, if you’d like to chat or have a comment, feel free to drop me a line at  


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