Meet Our Team: Justin Brown

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Tell me a little bit about your background.

Native New Yorker. My wife and I moved here from Brooklyn 5 years ago for her MBA, and we liked it so we stayed and bought a house. My last role was leading the research department at Cushman & Wakefield, where I got to do analytics on office, industrial and multifamily. I have had other roles in distressed debt and derivatives, but real estate has been the only thing that has interested me.

Which has been more valuable in your career, your education or your experience?

So far experience, and it is not even close. Although I am back in school now for a very focused, specific Master’s degree, so my answer might change in 2 years.

What's the best thing about your job?

Having my hand in so many things is the best thing about my job. I touch acquisitions, capital markets, accounting and obviously asset management.

What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made? 

‍Finding my way over to the buy side.

What skills have you found vital to your job?

My job is pretty technical and quant-focused, but I think a skill that is often overlooked is soft skills. Like how you interact with people on your team and win/maintain their confidence. I have pretty good communication skills and can convey my thoughts cogently to all different types of people in different roles.

What advice do you have for someone new to the industry?

Find a mentor in your industry and do your best to learn as much from them as humanly possible without being annoying.

Is there a quote that motivates you?

“This is how I win.” - Howard Ratner from "Uncut Gems."

Who inspires you?

Ed Sateia from Birgo. There are whispers that he’s the most elite Excel Power-user in Western PA. What he can do with data tables and nested formulas is as inspiring as any Tony Robbins lecture. He is truly in a league of his own.

Dream job (apart from working at Birgo!)?

Scoring films for A24. Picking the music for movies would be a dream come true. Asset management is a close second, though!

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Turquoise or Burgundy.

What are your favorite places to eat in Pittsburgh?

Since moving here, I have found that the quality of the food is not commensurate with the size of the population. What I mean is, the food is better than it should be. The big shortfalls are: bagels, pizza, sushi, and deli. Everything else in Pittsburgh is as good as you can get in any major metro, there are just less options. Below are some of my favorites.

  • Sushi/Japanese: Gi-Jin, Umi, Penn Ave Fish Co., Umami, Kiku
  • Italian: Alla Famiglia, Girasole, DiAnoia's
  • Steakhouse: Hyde Park, Capital Grill
  • Bagels: Only edible bagels in this city are Pigeon Bagels in Squirrel Hill. Everything else is inedible including Bruegger's.
  • Pizza: Aiello's, Driftwood Oven, Badamo's, Rockaway Pizzeria (this is the best option in a 100 mile radius)
  • Thai: Senyai, Smiling Banana Leaf, Took Took 98
  • Chinese/Taiwanese: Cafe 33, Chengdu Gourmet, Everyday Noodles
  • Indian: Tamarind, Cafe Delhi, Udipi
  • Other: Eleven, Casbah, Out of the Fire Cafe (Donegal), Oak Hill Post, Butterjoint, Point Brugge Cafe, Fig & Ash, Scratch & Co., Independent Brewing Company
  • Coffee: KLVN, Areviste, Commonplace

What’s your go-to coffee (or tea) order?

Some type of very pretentious pour over from KLVN or Areviste. 

Winter or summer? The beach or the mountains? 

Hate the summer. Beach vacations are incredibly overrated. Love the winter and the mountains. I basically have inverse seasonal depression. Snowboarding is my favorite activity. Heading to Beaver Creek, CO in February and Big Sky, MT in March.

What books or articles should I be reading?

This is kind of a bad answer but I love autobiographies from musicians and athletes. Open by Andre Agassi and Life by Keith Richards were both amazing. I also love everything from David Sedaris. I wanted to say something more intelligent like something by William Faulkner or Fedor Dostoevsky, but that wouldn’t be true to myself!

What does a typical weekend look like in your household? 

Not really that exciting to be honest. In the winter we will go to Hidden Valley to take my 3 year old skiing. Otherwise, lots of playdates for my son, going out to dinner with friends who have kids, playing tennis, taking naps, reading, cooking, and watching movies. I recently watched Tár, Triangle of Sadness, The Banshees of Inisherin, Nope, Don’t Worry Darling  and The Menu over two weekends. That felt like a win. I also watch a crazy amount of football and baseball, and am very active in fantasy sports, which my wife loves ;)

What are some of your best or favorite personal achievements?

This question makes me deeply uncomfortable, but I think going back to school is a huge one over the last few years (Masters in Real Estate at Georgetown). Also being a good dad.

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