In a time of economic turmoil, Robert K. Shibuya has a solidly optimistic vision of the future.

Shibuya, executive managing director for Insignia/ESG's West division, says he has noted an uptick in business in the last 30 to 60 days, even as a note of deep uncertainty has entered the picture in U.S. capital markets.

"Call me the proverbial optimist, but candidly, when you're in our business, which is the business of brokering transactions and managing real estate, the changing market means an opportunity," he said.

Insignia has been growing its operations, especially in California. The real estate firm is involved in everything from leasing and sales (representing both on the landlords and tenants, or buyers and sellers) to development, property management and construction management.

Insignia's goal is to grow its development unit and integrate the different branches of its business under one operating system. To help accomplish this, Shibuya has recently become its communications hub. The heads of the different offices in California will now report to him, as will the heads of various disciplines, such as development or leasing. This will allow Shibuya to do what he likes to call "connecting the dots."

"I arrange marriages," he said.

Shibuya, 38, has worked in commercial real estate since he got his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of the Pacific. He has been working out of Insignia/ESG's Los Angeles office as executive managing director for just under a year, although he only recently was given responsibility for all operations in California. He was formerly president and chief operating officer of Tishman West Co.

"Real estate just sort of happened," Shibuya said. "I was literally sitting up on the frat house porch steps, figuring out what to do with my (undergrad) business degree, (and) someone came along one day and said, 'Come to an interview at a real estate company,' and I got the job." Shibuya took one week off, and went to work.

"No sidebars, no trips around the world. My whole career, post-college, has been in the commercial real estate business."

And will that change in the future? "I married a lady from Pasadena, so I don't think I'm going anywhere," he said.

Lauren Hollingsworth

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