Andre Soroudi, 27
Company: CGI Strategies
Title: Director of acquisitions
Business: Real estate investment
Location: Woodland Hills
Financials: $1 billion portfolio
How did you get involved in CGI Strategies?
My involvement with CGI goes back to one of my mentors (who) knows (founder and Chief Executive) Gidi Cohen very closely. He gave me a call one day and said, “There’s someone that you should meet that you might get along with.” We had a meeting of the minds over a several weeks, and it seemed like it was a company that was really starting to do some really cool stuff and had an appetite for growth and a place that could be a good fit.
Are there advantages or disadvantages to being in this role in your 20s?
There’s definitely pros and cons, especially with real estate being such a capital-intensive business. It requires investors trusting you with large sums of their money. A lot of people like to see people with gray hair. There’s definitely going to be more hesitation just because of your age, but at the same time it’s a business that is very technical. As long as you are able to focus on the more number-oriented things and demonstrate what you can do, you are usually able to get around that. On the pro side, it really allows you to have a different perspective on the projects you’re in. We are building multifamily and hospitality properties. Most of the renter pool is 40 or younger. Being in a younger demographic, you truly understand what those people want.
How has the pandemic impacted your role?
We have been playing both defense and offense. On the defense side, we are looking at our portfolio and trying to ascertain where our risks lie and address those and be very cognizant this is a time when you want to maintain occupancy. At the same time you want to make sure you are being a good steward with the community and help people out that need help.
I come in more on the offensive side. I deal with the portfolio and acquisitions. I am looking for new opportunities, and there are opportunities that are coming about because of this ... distressed hotel deals, land buys, different opportunities where someone may have a situation where they want to get out.
Does social responsibility play a role in the business and how you look at projects?
One of the things that attracted me to real estate development is that you are building things that you hope are going to impact a community for a hundred years or more. How people are going to interact with it and what it is going to do for the community and affect people, you hope to make a positive impact. We try to engage community groups as early on as possible, before we are even into major design of a project. There are a lot of social issues that are really important to our communities now. Homelessness is a major problem in Los Angeles. We are trying to do our part as much as we can. We had a project at Wilshire and La Brea where we have a two-year entitlement period. We had vacant retail space so, one of the community groups supporting homeless (services), we leased them the office space for no cost.
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