My interest in real estate is rooted in curiosity – I’ve got a naturally restless mind and an inclination to ask “Why?”, “How?” and “Can we do it better?” My early career in the Chicago market only fueled that tendency – I wanted to know what caused vacancy differences between submarkets, and even between neighboring buildings. I saw rental rate fluctuations and wanted to know the reasons. I noticed inefficiencies and wanted to find better solutions. Digging into the details of real estate scratched that itch, brought me a lifetime of challenges and successes, and introduced me to the colleagues and clients who have enormously impacted my life. I am truly blessed to have a career doing what I love alongside people I respect.
My greatest joy in the business today involves two pursuits which I believe are mission critical to our firm:
First, the people.
How do I find, hire and develop the very best talent on the field? Real estate is a “big little” world – there are connections between service lines that continually impact results. No element of our business is an island – property management affects leasing, brokerage impacts project management, the diligence of an individual in our accounting department can directly impact our clients, and so on. At the heart of everything is a culture that supports and encourages excellence – the people deliver the results our clients trust us to provide. I’m passionate about getting the culture piece right, and building a work environment where everyone can succeed to the benefit of our clients, our employees, our stakeholders and our company.
Second, finding the “better way.”
Questioning everything is a double-edged sword. It led me to embrace innovation and partner with like-minded teammates in pursuit of better ways of doing things. On the other hand, I’m rarely fully satisfied with an outcome. I wake up every day thinking about what we can improve, looking for the latest area to enhance our client-owners’ assets, and searching for the next idea to assist in better operation, leasing, communication, experience and value.
To me, there’s nothing better than equipping a talented team with proven systems/processes, coordinating the execution of a sound business strategy, and ultimately exceeding a client’s expectations. That pursuit continues to excite me each and every day of being part of this business. I thrive on finding a better way, in rallying a team of people who share my passion, and in sharing a vision that sees potential in every opportunity.
I’ve done my best to fashion my leadership based on being a genuine listener. So often, conflicts and challenges are complicated by misunderstandings and poor communication. Energy is spent on pointing fingers or inflating egos rather than on a solutions-oriented approach. I’ve seen this play out in my family as well as on the boards and charities I serve and advise. Time is wasted trying to determine agendas and navigate personalities rather than focusing on finding the correct path and doing what’s right. Whether working in my role at NAI Hiffman, on a board for a youth camp, elderly housing or a university, I pride myself on being able to hone in on the heart of a matter, probe for deeper issues and rally a team to action.
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”
Professional Background & Experience
David Petersen is the Chief Executive Officer of NAI Hiffman, with a strong focus on identifying client challenges and aligning requirements to solve them through strategic business, financial, and operational objectives. This includes delivering leasing, management, capital markets, project services, research and marketing services to achieve each clients’ goals. David’s business philosophy is based on creating a cohesive and integrated real estate delivery platform along all business lines. In addition to overseeing the operational aspects of the firm, he is actively focused on growing the firm’s client roster, enhancing its financial performance and supporting recruitment and retention efforts of its top talent throughout the company.
Prior to joining NAI Hiffman, David worked at the Trammell Crow Company where he oversaw the delivery of the firm’s broad spectrum of management services to institutional clients. Responsible for team creation and organization as well as new business development, David secured more than 15 million square feet of new leasing and management assignments throughout his tenure there.
Prior to joining Trammell Crow, David was Senior Managing Director with Insignia/ESG’s Chicago office. He was responsible for the Midwest Property Management Group which included the firm’s Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis operations. During his leadership, the Midwest portfolio grew three-fold.
David’s career in real estate spans more than 30 years and covers several disciplines within the industry including property management, construction, and redevelopment. He has built an impressive client roster that includes Blackstone, Franklin Street Partners, Griffin Capital, High Street Realty Group, ML Realty Partners, Nuveen, PRG, LaSalle Investment Management, TA Realty, and UBS among many other highly regarded clients.
Professional Affiliations & Designations
- Covenant Youth Camp, Lake Geneva – Board Member
- Naperville Elderly Home – Foundation Board Member
- North Park University Business Advisory – Board Member
- BOMA Suburban Chicago – Past Education Chairman
- BOMA Suburban Chicago, RPA
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