Meet Our Current PREP Class - Cushman & Wakefield

Meet Our Current PREP Class

Brendan O'Leary

School: Hobart and William Smith Colleges (Urban Studies)

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

I grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut with a twin sister and younger brother. At a young age I began sailing competitively and was fortunate enough to race throughout the United States and Europe. I attended Greenwich High School and went on to graduate from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a degree in Urban Studies. Real Estate was always in consideration as a potential career path and my focus in Urban Studies helped paint a vivid picture of rapidly growing, globalized environments the industry thrives on. Coupled with my studies, my father has been in the real estate industry for over 30 years which certainly contributed to my initial interest in the business. The client facing business appealed to me right off the bat. Through summer jobs coaching sailing, I instantly found working with different individuals and catering to their specific needs and goals very rewarding. More recently I had the opportunity to intern for a well-respected Investment Sales and Retail leasing firm in NYC. That exposure provided an incredible learning experience that has prepared me well for this position.

Getting started at C&W

After gaining exposure to the New York City market through summer internships, I set my sights on joining one of the industries leaders. The timing could not have been better with C&W merging with DTZ thus increasing its size, revenue, and global reach. The firm’s deeply rooted history with 100 years in the New York City market made it the ideal workplace in one of the world’s largest markets. The PREP program encompasses all aspects of the business and in my opinion will serve as the perfect foundation for a prosperous career.

Favorite part about working at C&W

The resources available to younger professionals at the firm are unparalleled. The firms welcoming environment has encouraged us to reach out and seek valuable advice and guidance from our leadership.

Outside of C&W

When I am not in the office I enjoy staying active, skiing, sailing and taking advantage of everything New York City has to offer.

Danielle Nir

School: New York University (Finance and Marketing)

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

Having been born and raised right outside of New York City, I was constantly drawn to its exciting urban character. So when it came time to choose a college, I was set on spending the next four years in the heart of Greenwich Village. At NYU, I majored in Finance and Marketing at the Stern School of Business, and minored in Urban Design and Architecture at the College of Arts and Science. During my sophomore year, I got the chance to work at Daymond John’s marketing consulting firm where I worked on exciting marketing materials for his Shark Tank investments. Marketing was a natural way for me to use my creativity in business, and so I continued pursuing a career in marketing the summer of my junior year by interning at Unilever. There I learned how to manage a brand account, after developing the first digital marketing campaign for one of Unilever’s smaller hair care brands. While I enjoyed my summer at Unilever and learned an incredible amount about managing a business, I still had an interest in urban design and architecture that I wanted to further explore.

Getting started at C&W

After my summer at Unilever, I decided to integrate my business background with my passion for urban design by pursuing a career in Real Estate. I developed a deep interest in the field after taking several development and finance based real estate classes at Stern, but was still undecided about which aspect of the industry to pursue. During my first week of senior year, a friend and former NYU Stern student told me about the PREP Program at Cushman & Wakefield. It was exactly what I was looking for – a 12-month rotational program where I can explore the different types of services of the commercial real estate industry in one of the top real estate services firms in the world.

Favorite part about working at C&W

Even though Cushman & Wakefield is such a large company participating in one of the most competitive industries, its strong sense of community was clear the day I started working. Whether it is managing directors who willingly offer their professional mentorship or former PREP associates who provide useful advice, the people at Cushman & Wakefield have been incredibly welcoming to us from day one.

Outside of C&W

When I’m in New York, I love to explore up and coming Italian restaurants with my twin sister who works in the food and beverage industry. I am also a member of a co-working artist collective in the Lower East Side where I go to work on some ongoing projects. When I’m out of the city, I’m either exploring new cities in Europe and visiting family in Tel Aviv in the summer, or snowboarding in the winter.

Katayon Ghassemi

School: Yale University (Global Affairs)

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

If you ask anyone in my family, I’m lovingly known as a “nonor.” What’s a “nonor” you may be asking? It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact word in English that captures the full sense of the word for non-Persian speakers. In its worst sense, it’s a devilish and mischievous child. At its best, it describes a more inquisitive person who seems to have her head into everything, with a hint of mischief sprinkled in. I’d like to think I’m the latter. As the middle child and only girl caught between two brothers, I was born and raised in Kansas City where I attended high school at The Pembroke Hill School. Thanks to my mom’s efforts, I was very involved in sports like figure skating and gymnastics as well as activities like piano growing up. For college, I attended Yale University where I majored in Global Affairs and had the opportunity to be a part of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. Outside of the classroom, I was a filmmaker with the Visual Law Project—an alternative law journal of Yale Law School—co-captain of Yale's collegiate figure skating club team and a director within the Leadership Institute at Yale. Perhaps most special and meaningful to me of all during my time at school was being appointed co-chair for Yale’s commencement where I was responsible for selecting a high-profile speaker, planning and coordinating class speeches and overseeing the creation of a class film shown at the event.

Getting started at C&W

My path to real estate and, in turn, Cushman & Wakefield was a mix of chance and perfect timing. Thanks to a series of conversations my junior spring, I was hired by a developer to co-lead a small team charged with conducting research into the student housing market. My role was to build a database of potential land development opportunities from scratch, including identifying target markets, sourcing properties, and researching zoning regulations. As result of this experience and additional conversations with professors and mentors my senior year of college, my eyes were opened to the world of real estate, architecture, and urban planning and I haven’t really looked back since. In fall of my senior year, I applied to the PREP program and am now excited to be working at Cushman & Wakefield straight out of school.

Favorite part about working at C&W

I don’t think a week has gone by where I haven’t been grateful for an experience or conversation I’ve had at Cushman and Wakefield and that’s in large part due to the people who work at this firm. It’s a place whose people are willing to engage in conversation and whose people welcome ideas that help disrupt, innovate and streamline existing practices within the industry.

Outside of C&W

Outside of the office, I enjoy almost any type of exercise, listening to podcasts and attempting to cook Iranian cuisine. I also hope to spend some time back on the ice, both figure skating for fun and volunteering with organizations in the area who run after-school skating programs.

Michael Cocce

School: Manhattan College (Finance & Business Analytics)

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

I grew up in Newington, CT as the middle child of a close knit family spread throughout Central Connecticut and Boston. While originally planning to follow in my families’ footsteps by completing my undergrad in Boston, I made the last minute decision to pursue an education at Manhattan College where I would continue on to study Finance & Business Analytics.

Getting started at C&W

My interest in both C&W, and the PREP program itself, dates back two years to the summer of 2014 when I began interning in C&W’s newly formed Risk Management Services group under the leadership of former New York City Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly. At the conclusion of that summer, I was both confident and eager to learn more about this industry and was given the unique opportunity to stay on with the team part-time throughout the school year where I would eventually transition over in the Fall of 2015 to our Global Occupier Services organization. It was there, where I began to experience first-hand, the geographic depth C&W has as a company interning with teams in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. With the columniation of my experiences as an Intern and having heard about the PREP program, I knew that this was the necessary next step for myself.

Favorite part about working at C&W

My favorite part of Cushman & Wakefield, from a high level perspective, stems from the people. Working in an environment in which you are encouraged to walk into executives’ offices provides an unparalleled opportunity to learn and succeed. As a 22 year old, I find myself uniquely lucky to be able to come into work each day with not just my colleagues, but my friends in an environment that is so routed in allowing you the opportunity to grow from both a business and personal perspective.

Outside of C&W

When I’m not in the office, I like to take advantage of all that New York has to offer, whether it be trying new restaurants, meeting my buddies for happy hour or golfing in Westchester, there is never a dull moment in this city.

Michael Montesi

School: Boston University (Finance, Real Estate, Operations & Technology Management)

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

I grew up in sunny South Florida, unapologetically bold by nature. The youngest son of a Puerto Rican and Italian family, found my New York-calling after going to college in Boston. I went to American Heritage School and then to Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. From a family of entrepreneurs, business has been my way of life. I was introduced to real estate early in my life with industrial properties that led me to get my salespersons license while in college. I leased apartments in Boston’s bustling college town, which led me to attain an internship in commercial mortgage brokerage in New York City. During that summer I learned the ins and outs of the New York City commercial real estate industry. I’m also a Certified Green belt in Six Sigma, a disciplined, data driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects in any process – from manufacturing to transactional and from any product to service.

Getting started at C&W

I was introduced to PREP by an associate in the 2016 class. I was really intrigued by the program for the exposure it gave to newly minted college graduates. The PREP experience has been a dive into the deep end of New York City Commercial Real Estate. The program has expanded my knowledge of Commercial Real Estate from a high-level intellectual basis to a real world “boots on the ground” approach. Cushman & Wakefield has provided the tangible opportunity to gain exposure to all service lines of the commercial real estate industry.

Favorite part about working at C&W

Thus far, Cushman & Wakefield has provided the opportunity to surround myself with colleagues that have shaped New York City for individuals and businesses, and continue to shape the communities of the world. Cushman & Wakefield sets itself apart by leveraging its international reputation with a boutique feel in local markets. By using tomorrow's technology to solve today's problems, we are able to be one of the most consistent and visionary companies in the industry.

Outside of C&W

When I’m not in the office, I enjoy cycling at Soulcycle or FlyWheel. An avid foodie and traveler, I’ll always take risks and try new restaurants and foreign cuisine. Since I’m not a native New Yorker, I have a lot of future experiences and adventures in this great city.

Nikita Bernstein

School: Cornell University (Double Major: Economics & Asian Studies, Double Minor: Business & Real Estate)

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

Growing up in Manhattan, I have always been drawn to real estate and the industry’s power to reflect history and define our city. As an Economics major, I relied on real estate to make sense of theoretical concepts, and was fascinated by how these concepts were brought to life by real world trends. My first real estate internship after my sophomore year solidified my interest in the industry, with exposure to real estate transactions on an ownership level. The following summer, I explored real estate from the services side interning in office leasing, and found how diverse the industry is. Here, I recognized how valuable it would be to form a foundational knowledge base through the various service lines. Back at Cornell, I complemented my work experience by pursuing the Real Estate Minor and joining the Real Estate Club, advancing my technical and pragmatic skills to bring with me post-graduation.

Getting started at C&W

Looking to maximize my value in this industry, I wanted to do a rotational program to build a foundation in all aspects of the field. Additionally, I was looking for a program that focused specifically on the New York market, but would let me explore all asset classes in commercial real estate. While PREP fit all the criteria I was looking for, I was ultimately sold on the flexibility that the program had to offer. I had prior work experience in asset management and brokerage, but with academic practice in real estate finance, and wanted the opportunity to explore all facets of the industry. Now that I’ve begun, I am very excited about all of the opportunities that have been presented to me, being truly able to rotate through any service line or team I want, and have tailored my year to fit my unique interests.

Favorite part about working at C&W

My love for real estate aside, I am excited to come into the office each day because of the people and company culture at Cushman & Wakefield. Every person I have met has been incredibly driven, intelligent and inspirational, and many of which are leaders in their field, all the while valuing teamwork and collaboration. The company’s support for the PREP program is apparent by the training programs and in my ability to meet with any person in the company, from analyst to senior management.

Outside of C&W

In my free time I love to be active, like playing basketball or going for runs in Central Park. I am also a certified yoga instructor and practice or teach whenever I can. I enjoy the unique activities NYC has to offer, such as going to museums, lectures, or simply trying out new restaurants.

Tyler Green

School: Vanderbilt University (Economics)

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

My name is Tyler Green and I am a current PREP associate at Cushman & Wakefield. I was born and raised in the Bronx and identify as a first generation Caribbean-American. My parents have instilled in me strong values that not only make me a well-rounded individual, but also ensure success in all endeavors I choose to pursue. I spent the first half of my high school career in New Canaan, Connecticut and finished at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, graduating in the top ten percent of my class as a tri-season athlete. Due to my academic achievement and involvement in leadership roles throughout high school, I received a full-tuition scholarship to Vanderbilt University. I initially decided to major in Economics because I viewed it as the blueprint of business. However, as I progressed through my studies, I came to realize that the applications and ideas of Economics permeate every aspect of our global society. By the time I completed my undergraduate degree, I found myself deeply immersed in my studies and became an avid reader of academic publications concerning the economy, income inequality, and the utilization of capital.

Getting started at C&W

I was first introduced to commercial real estate the summer after my freshman year when I was admitted into the Rising Realty Stars program and had the opportunity to work with the James Nelson Investment Sales Team at Massey Knakal (currently Cushman & Wakefield). The fast-paced, competitive nature of the team quickly captured my interest and influenced me to learn more about the industry. I was invited to complete a second internship with the team after my sophomore year, during which I began developing a true comprehension of commercial real estate capital markets. The summer of my junior year and throughout my senior year, I worked for a boutique private equity firm assisting with acquisitions. During my time with the firm, I sourced over 500 investment opportunities and completed underwriting for over 30 potential acquisitions. Given my strong internship experience within the industry, I believed Cushman & Wakefield’s PREP program would be an excellent opportunity to further expand and diversify my knowledge and find my niche within commercial real estate.

Favorite part about working at C&W

My PREP class has the unique opportunity of starting with Cushman & Wakefield during a very exciting time. The firm’s merger with Cassidy Turley, recent acquisition of New York Investment Sales giant Massey Knakal, and continuing acquisitions of local commercial real estate service entities in emerging U.S. markets is positioning Cushman & Wakefield to be the number-one commercial real estate services firm in the world. As millennials would say, Cushman & Wakefield is “trending” and, coupled with the people and culture of the company, I could not have asked for a better place to begin my career.

Outside of C&W

Outside of Cushman and Wakefield, I enjoy reading, working out, and discovering up-and-coming DJ’s and musicians. I also have taken various art and film courses at Vanderbilt, which has inspired me to start a video art and photography group, which will be launching in Winter 2017.

Willis Robbins

School: Columbia University (Political Science) 

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

I have a younger sister and hail from Greenwich Village, NYC. I graduated from Columbia University with a major in Political Science, concentrating in Political Theory and International Relations. At Columbia, I was fortunate enough to win three consecutive Ivy League Championships as a pitcher on the baseball team. I am confident that the discipline and focus essential to my student-athlete experience will benefit me as I develop and pilot my skill set within PREP. My most recent professional experience was in capital markets, where I worked for the Institutional Equity Division at Morgan Stanley.

Getting started at C&W

I was introduced to PREP through the Columbia Alumni Network. After having spent my childhood and college life wandering the New York City streets, real estate, specifically its implied tangibility, really resonated with me. I was particularly drawn to PREP’s rotational nature: from directing my own short films as a kid, to studying philosophy at Columbia, I have always focused on developing a diverse skill set. When thinking of PREP, I relate the personal mantra of “a mile wide and an inch deep.” PREP provides me with the unique advantage of pursuing several business lines at C&W. Given the various opportunities and challenges in the real estate industry, I truly value this one-of-a-kind program.

Favorite part about working at C&W

From day one, C&W’s open door policy has rung true. Some of the firm’s most senior executives are working with us on a daily basis.

Outside of C&W

In recent years, I have volunteered for Project A.L.S. Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 devoted to funding and finding a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease. A true New Yorker -- I am an avid Mets and Knicks fan, as well as a Marx Brothers fanatic. Despite my sometimes intense slice, I also enjoy playing golf.

Zachary Kraft

School: Bucknell University (Economics) 

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

Growing up in Weston, CT as the older of two boys, New York City was always at my fingertips. After graduating from Weston High School, I attended Bucknell University, where I majored in Economics with a minor in International Relations. It wasn’t until my sophomore summer that I began to immerse myself in the commercial real estate industry. Living in the lower east side of Manhattan and working in Midtown for a boutique real estate investor gave me insight into how dynamic and unique this city really was, and how the real estate landscapes shifted among neighborhoods. The tangibility of real estate as an asset peaked my interest and aided my decision to pursue further opportunities in the CRE field.

Getting started at C&W

After that first summer interning for a boutique real estate investment firm in Midtown, I was eager to obtain another internship in the real estate industry before my senior year of college. Being from the Tri-State Area, I knew I wanted to be back in Manhattan, at the center of the Commercial Real Estate world. Through networking and meeting a number of employees at Cushman & Wakefield, I was fortunate to be offered a role with the Corporate Occupier and Investment Services group (now Global Occupier Services), and spent my summer working for the Transaction Management team. This experience allowed me to learn a great deal about the real estate industry from the occupier standpoint, as well as the corporate culture here at Cushman & Wakefield. During my summer here, I was also able to learn more about the PREP program and the versatility it offered to gain exposure to the different businesses that Cushman & Wakefield engages in. Having the ability to gain industry experience and leverage relationships across an array of service lines was something I believed could jump-start my career; it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

Favorite part about working at C&W

While there are a number of great things that come with working at Cushman & Wakefield such as the extensive resources and infinite opportunities to succeed, the people are truly what propels the business forward and makes it an exciting place to be in an ever-evolving industry. From associates to high level executives who are the best at what they do, everyone has been welcoming and has taken an interest in the development of the PREP class as a whole.

Outside of C&W

When not in the office, I enjoy hanging out and exploring the city with friends. Some of my favorite activities include playing lacrosse, tennis, snowboarding and golfing. In addition, as an avid traveler, I try to take full advantage of traveling to new places as often as possible.


Jason KroegerJason Kroeger

School: Manhattan College 

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

I am from Douglaston, New York which sits on the border of Queens and Long Island. Being from a town so close to New York City, I had the opportunity since I was young to take advantage of the train into Manhattan. A lot of my weekends were spent heading into the city to either visit friends or family. After graduating from Saint Francis Preparatory School in Queens, I decided that I would stay local for my college career by attending Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York. It was the perfect mix of being just far enough from home, while still being able to visit (on the fly). This again allowed me to utilize my close proximity to the city to partake in activities and internships throughout college.

Getting started at C&W

When I was a sophomore in college, still without an internship under my belt, a friend of mine presented me with an opportunity to interview with a small retail brokerage firm that focused on hospitality groups in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. As a college student with no idea what his plans were post school, it seemed like a great first step. After getting the job, I was three months in and hooked on the commercial real estate industry. Come my summer entering junior year I had applied to several larger commercial real estate companies, one being Massey Knakal, which at the time was New York’s number one Investment Sales firm. Starting in June of 2014, I continued through my junior year working with the firm and come December of 2014, Cushman & Wakefield had decided to purchase Massey Knakal to annex the mid-size investment sales market. Now the opportunity of working with one of the largest and best CRE companies in the world was the next step of my early career. Through speaking with people in the company I learned about C&W’s PREP Program and thought to myself that it would be the logical next step in continuing my path in this industry. From getting to know people across many of the service lines C&W had to offer & seeing their willingness to guide and teach, I knew that Cushman & Wakefield would be the best place to start and grow my full time career in the commercial real estate business.

Favorite part about working at C&W

The ability to learn and gain insight from so many different people in all of the different parts of our organization.

Outside of C&W

I enjoy snowboarding, playing soccer and traveling to different parts of the country and world.

Tim O'BrienTim O'Brien

School: Dartmouth College (Government Major) 

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

I grew up in Winnetka, IL as the middle child of five kids. Playing sports with my brothers and sisters growing up led me to become a dedicated athlete throughout high school and college. I attended Loyola Academy where I played hockey, baseball, and football. My senior year I was drafted to play hockey in the United States Hockey League, where I spent two years playing post grad. From there I attended Dartmouth College. I majored in Government with a focus on International Relations, and played on the Men’s Hockey team. My senior year I was honored to receive the Smoyer Award, given to the team’s unsung hero, and earned my third All Ivy Academic award. My grandfather and father were both in the real estate industry which sparked my interest from a young age. Like my older sister who works at Alexandria Real Estate Equities, I followed in their footsteps and look forward to a lifelong career in real estate.

Getting started at C&W

After finding out about the Professional Real Estate Program through an on campus recruiting platform at Dartmouth, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. As someone with only a slight idea of where I saw myself ending up within the real estate industry, the PREP program was the perfect fit. This program allows our team to enter the real estate industry with an open mind and immerse ourselves into multiple service lines within the company that cover all aspects of the business.

Favorite part about working at C&W

My favorite part about working at Cushman and Wakefield is the ability to effortlessly form meaningful relationships with co-workers throughout all service lines of the company.

Outside of C&W

In my free time I try to experience all that New York City has to offer. I spend a lot of my time exploring Manhattan and Brooklyn, finding new places to eat, and going to concerts and comedy shows. I am an avid Chicago sports fan and love watching my teams play. I look forward to starting my men’s league hockey and softball careers, and hopefully lowering my golf handicap.

Emily RiversEmily Rivers

School: The Pennsylvania State University (Labor and Employment Relations; Economics) 

Current Position: PREP Associate

Background

The youngest of two, I was born and raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC. I attended Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, VA and later went on to attend Penn State University. There, I was a two year captain on the Varsity tennis team as well as a double major in Economics as well as Labor and Employment Relations. After spending time in central Pennsylvania for four years, I knew that I wanted a faster paced way of life.

Getting started at C&W

Growing up, I got to see the area that I lived in develop and grow exponentially mainly due to the nearby AOL branch which was booming throughout the mid 90’s. Seeing the impact of the real estate growth, in combination with a family connection to the field, made the industry always in the back of my mind. However, when I went into college I had full intentions to go to Law School upon completion of undergrad. This all changed the summer before my Senior year of college when I had the opportunity to intern with the Debt and Structured Finance team at CBRE in Washington, DC. I discovered through the course of the internship how much I enjoyed the diverse facets of the industry. What makes real estate most attractive to me is the perfect combination of analytical and relationship building skills that it provides. Going into my senior year, though I knew that I wanted to work in real estate, I was not exactly sure what line of service would be the best fit for me. When I came across the PREP program I immediately knew that it was what I wanted to do. I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to learn about each of the various service lines within C&W and know that it is something that will help to boost my career immensely.

Favorite part about working at C&W

The most exciting thing about C&W is the room for growth that it allows me. Each day I am impressed by the kindness of the individuals who work here as well as their willingness to share information. The investment of time and energy that the company puts into my development is immense and keeps me excited to come to work each day.

Outside of C&W

Being a non-native New Yorker, I now spend much of my time outside of work exploring what the city has to offer. In addition, I enjoy attending sporting events, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.