GET TO KNOW REAP FELLOW: Sharisse Walton
Updated: May 23, 2022
Sharisse Walton has an extensive background in banking and business. Over the past few years, she transitioned to a career in real estate as she endeavors to be a commercial real estate developer. Her business mission is to provide acquisition, disposition, and collaborative development of commercial mixed-use and multifamily housing in urban areas in partnership with non-profit organizations, local, state, and federal governments. Sharisse holds an MBA from the University of Detroit Mercy.
1. What was the driving factor that led you to become a Project REAP fellow?
I have long desired to transition into commercial real estate. However, several barriers to entry thwarted my pursuit including: a lack of CRE experience, knowledge, and capital to sustain my family in the meantime. I had been looking for a bridge that would allow me the flexibility to learn the necessary fundamentals of CRE without the demands of a large corporate structure that requires sales and production goals. Further, most CRE firms that I have spoken with did not align with my objectives of pursuing commercial real estate development. I continuously sought out resources to help me achieve my goals. I came across a business journal announcement and read the bio of an individual who had been recently promoted to COO of an established CRE, property management, and development firm. I learned about Project REAP. I looked it up, and it seemed to be a perfect solution to what I had been seeking; however, based on what I read, REAP was only offered in other large markets, none of which were in Florida.
I signed up on REAP’s website to be added to the 'interest' list and to receive updates. Upon speaking to the COO I referenced, I discovered that he had served on the Advisory Committee for the local REAP team. He widely endorsed Project REAP and stated it would be an ideal solution for me, and informed me virtual sessions might be offered at some point. I was utterly thrilled when I received an email from Project REAP/ULI announcing the Spring 2022 Class offering! The driving factor was summed up in the intro line: The purpose of this online course is to introduce commercial real estate terminology, concepts, and processes that will lay the foundation for a successful career in commercial real estate.
2. How will you leverage the Academy for your professional growth and development?
I will actively pursue conversations and relationships with my colleagues (from this and other cohorts) to foster synergy and growth. I firmly believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I have already engaged in several conversations toward this end with my Project REAP mentors, a former REAP advisor, colleagues from this cohort, and a couple of presenters. Doing nothing, yields nothing. I am not afraid to seek or to ask. It is my goal to fully transition to CRE development this year. I am open and actively seeking potential ways to collaborate with others to fulfill my purpose of being a catalyst for change and making a difference. Completing the program, having access to the REAP alumni network, and leveraging knowledge will afford me the expertise, fundamentals, and network necessary to skillfully compete and succeed in the commercial real estate space and, more specifically, development in urban areas. The REAP/ULI Academy is aligned with everyone having a vested interest in moving in the same direction–walking into and toward professional growth, development, and success. I am thankful for the opportunity!
3. What was the last CRE publication you read that captured your imagination?
The Urban Land Institute’s spring 2022 issue "Solving the Housing Crisis" captured my attention. The articles were of particular interest as they covered the possible housing shortage, challenges, and potential solutions. The housing shortage is a significant concern from coast to coast. ULI convened a roundtable composed of a subgroup of ULI's Global Governing Board of Trustees and other ULI stakeholders to discuss this topic in the publication. ULI has designated improving worldwide housing attainability as one of the organization's three global priorities. The issue is full of member-written thought leadership content from around the country. Highlights include strategies for creating affordable green multifamily housing, expanding affordable housing using public/private partnerships, climate migration, and housing as an opportunity to bridge the digital divide. The issue captured my imagination as it is ripe with considerations and potential solutions that can make a difference if implemented thoughtfully, intentionally, and strategically.