Ken Lombard, Real Estate Investment Expert, Offers B-School Advice in New York Times Interview

On July 6, New York Times journalist Adam Bryant sat down with Ken Lombard, member of the Capri Capital Partners investment team and frequent guest speaker at business schools across the country, including UPenn’s Wharton and Harvard Business School. Lombard’s nuggets of wisdom for current MBA students and recent graduates came from a place of knowledge and experience. Lombard has worked for 31 years in real estate investment and management. Before joining CCP, he served as President of Starbucks Entertainment and headed the (Magic) Johnson Development Corporation (JDC). Bryant asked Lombard for his best advice for b-school students; Lombard’s recommendations centered on two things: drive for success and the ability to make tough decisions.

Lombard’s first suggestion for MBA students—stay hungry for success and stay in the game of always learning—was meant to encourage lifelong business “learning.” In Lombard’s experience, some students finish an MBA, believe they’ve completed their time as a student, and lose some of the edge that brought them to business school in the first place. Lombard characterizes the competitive economy as a “game,” and if you want to win, you have to be “hungry” for achievement and growth. Otherwise, others will bypass you.

When Bryant asked Lombard to characterize business professionals he might hire, Lombard explained that authenticity, a desire to learn from those in one’s field, and the ability to answer questions with clarity and humility impressed him most. Lombard believes that the MBA degree sets a solid foundation of knowledge, but that one should continue to evolve when he or she enters the workplace and is exposed to colleagues and competition.

Lombard’s second suggestion to MBA students was simply to trust their instincts and to know when to put aside statistical analysis and take a calculated risk. Lombard conceptualizes business acumen as a combination of strong analytical skills with the courage of leadership; analytical leaders can still make a decision even with an uncertain outcome. Harkening back to his first point about continual business learning, Lombard closed the interview advising up-and-coming business professionals to seek out those who have succeeded in their industries, learn what they can from them, and never feel as if what has already been done can’t be done again.

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