David Olney '82: Industry leader in real estate investment management
It’s somewhat of a rarity in today’s fast-paced financial world to find someone who has been with the same firm for 30 years. But that’s what David Olney ’82 has accomplished – and in the process has become an industry leader in real estate investment management.
Olney is a partner and Chief Investment Officer at Berkshire Group, where he leads the Multifamily Investment group. A privately held company, Berkshire manages over $7.2 billion in real estate investments on behalf of institutional clients worldwide.
Key ingredients for professional success: empathy and intellectual curiosity
Since joining Berkshire in 1986, Olney has been involved in billions of dollars of acquisitions and dispositions. He oversees multifamily equity, debt and development investments, and drives investment strategy and transaction execution.
This expertise has afforded Olney significant insight into what he believes are key ingredients for professional success: empathy and intellectual curiosity. “Understanding other people’s positions and needs is important to solving problems,” he explains. “Having intellectual curiosity helps you gather information or solicit help when working on a task you don’t fully understand. Just getting something done is not always enough.”
The best piece of business advice Olney ever received came early in his career. His first boss at Berkshire advised him how to work on larger tasks with bigger groups. “Once you’ve defined the timeline and tasks that need to be completed, focus first on those you don’t control,” explains Olney. “Make sure those people you need input or output from have a clear understanding of what they need to give and the timeline they need to deliver it by. Once that is done you can focus on those tasks that you uniquely are responsible for.”
Olney acknowledges that this is simple advice. “But it has helped me throughout my own career and when helping others handle complex, time-sensitive assignments.”
Olney’s focus on building the right team is a source of professional satisfaction. “I am most proud of the achievements of people I have hired into the organization and have watched them develop into significant contributors to our success.”