Ryan Tran – Fresh Perspectives: CBRE’s Emerging Leaders

November 7, 2022 5 Minute Read

Clock in restaurant bar

Ryan Tran truly loves what he does. His passion for commercial real estate, the hotel sector, and Toronto radiates from him, even through a computer screen or over email.

A graduate from the Schulich School of Business at York University, Tran spent several years as an accountant before deciding to pursue his passion and make the jump to commercial real estate. He joined CBRE as Vice President, Alternative Assets Group, in 2020.

Though he now has nearly a decade of industry experience and expertise to his name, Tran vividly remembers the challenges of trying to break into the industry. It’s why he takes every opportunity to guide the next generation of CRE professionals and has never forgotten his own mentors along the way.

We spoke to Tran about the best career advice he’s received, what he wishes he knew on his first day of work, and what excites him about the future of Toronto’s hotel industry.

What inspires you about the hotel industry in Toronto?

The resiliency of the sector really inspires me. It was definitely one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, but we’re seeing positive momentum now and our clients are recovering well.

Being in Toronto, you always have that fresh, inventive perspective in our city’s hotel sector. It’s never really the status quo. You always have hoteliers partnering with new brands or going through a major renovation – like the Thompson Hotel now being the 1 Hotel, or the Drake Hotel adding a brand new wing with hip, trendy guest rooms. Being here and being able to see that is very inspiring.

What is the best advice you’ve received since you started your commercial real estate career?

Always be open to learning. Learn from your team leads, from analysts, from associates, from support staff. Learn from everyone around you. This sector is so collaborative and supportive. Everyone is openly sharing new ideas and best practices.

If you could go back in time to your first day of work, what advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to follow my passion. I knew early on my passion was commercial real estate, but I started off in accounting and pursued that for a few years instead. So, if you know that you’re passionate about something, just go for it. Don’t wait.

What’s the most surprising thing you learned early on in your career?

The power of a team. Through different mandates you get exposed to different leadership styles, personalities, and work ethics. It’s important to find the right team, the right fit, to really deliver and execute efficiently and effectively.

What deal have you been most proud of and why?

Facilitating with the sale of The Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. It was truly a surreal experience, given the high-profile nature of it. It’s a global hotel brand that’s founded and headquartered in Toronto and it was their new flagship property in their own backyard.

Led by CBRE’s Mark Sparrow and Luke Scheer, our team had the opportunity to really do a global marketing campaign. I remember at the very end after we closed the deal, our team had the chance to raise a toast in the lobby of the hotel. That was truly a proud moment for me.

How is your perspective unique and helpful to clients?

Since joining CBRE, I’ve had the unique opportunity to help establish and grow our Alternative Assets Group. Our team has really come together in a great partnership in terms of our knowledge and our expertise across the hotels, seniors living, and student housing sectors. There are so many synergies across these asset classes, and it really allows our team to closely align with our clients and the way they are evaluating opportunities and allocating capital across all these sectors.

Our team really prides ourselves on the high-quality service we provide to clients. We really try to push the envelope in terms of the marketing process and try to find new and exciting ways to convey the opportunity at hand.

What are the biggest challenges facing young people looking to get started in commercial real estate?

I think we’re all guilty of this to a degree, but it’s wanting immediate gratification. We want a certain position or to have a certain client immediately. But you need to build that foundation first. You need to really focus and understand the sector.

After a few years you gain the expertise, the knowledge, and the confidence to be out there with clients and be able to address everything that’s thrown at you. If you have the work ethic and the drive in the beginning to build that foundation, it’s really going to position you better in the long run.

How do you support other young people in this business? 

I always try to be accessible. I think that’s very key. Whether it be a quick coffee chat or referrals through my network, I feel that it’s important to spend the time and support others. I remember being in that position – applying for that first job and trying to break into the sector. Having people sit down and talk about their experience with me was very helpful. I just try to do the same thing and pay it forward.

Do you have some tips for others who are just starting their commercial real estate career?

Be present. Networking is so key. Be open to meeting new people. Always have an open mind.

This sector is very tightknit. Many people are wiling to help and to chat through things. If you’re open minded, you’re going to come across so many different types of people with different perspectives. You never know when a contact you make today is going to come back to you in the future. They may end up being a client or a business partner, you just don’t know.

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