Market Associate - Mid-Atlantic
University of Louisville - Brandeis School of Law
What's your background?
I studied finance and real estate at Marquette University and after graduation worked in asset management for a developer for a few years. Then I went to law school at the University of Louisville and started at Northwestern Mutual right after passing the bar exam in Kentucky.
How is it that you came to Northwestern Mutual?
I wanted to get back into working on the business side of real estate. I saw a posting online when I was job hunting, and I knew a little bit about Northwestern Mutual having gone to college in Milwaukee. Plus, I knew someone who worked here.
Your job as an underwriter is to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of commercial real estate deals. How does having a law degree help you do that successfully?
I think having a law degree allows you to have a pragmatic view of how you can assess a transaction. There are many moving parts to these transactions and there are legal undertones to most everything we do.
What's a typical day like for you?
If it's a day when I'm leading the review of a deal, I'll spend much of the morning making sure all of my assumptions are correct. That means I'll meet with a number of different people who specialize in aspects of the transaction like law and titling, and my boss. Then, in the afternoon, I'll present the analysis and recommendation to our internal approval board, which typically takes about two hours. The rest of the time, I'm evaluating other deals or collaborating with team members. I might have six or seven deals going at the same time and will lead a review once or twice a week.
Tell me a little more about the role of collaboration in your position.
It's required, it's necessary and you can't do your job without it. People in the department are not shy about asking questions. Everyone here has an open door policy, and really wants to help you learn. So collaboration is key. It's refreshing. In past jobs, I've worked with people who were a little more pretentious and it was hard to approach them. Here, you can go to the Vice President’s office and just poke your head in to chat.
How has your experience so far compared to what you expected when you came here?
The job is pretty much what I expected. I will say, one of the encouraging things is that the work-life balance has been really great. While you're here, you have to get your work done; you're accountable for your deliverables. But at the same time, it's recognized that you have a life outside of work. I've worked in another job where I was expected to be 'on' 24/7 and that's not the case here. I may get an email now and then after work or on the weekends, but I don't see a rush of emails coming in. It's definitely refreshing to not feel the pressure to communicate off hours.
What's next for you here?
The next step for me would be to go into a production role as a market associate in one of our eight field offices around the country. I'd be working for an investment manager or a portfolio manager in one of those markets, getting to know how they develop client relationships and how they evaluate deals.