Growing up, Stephen Powell Jr., a recipient of NAIOP’s 2016 Developing Leaders Award, always had an interest in construction, spurred by his grandfather’s work as a general contractor. He studied civil engineering and spent a dozen years doing construction management before making the change to development. Powell credits the professional network and educational resources provided by his NAIOP membership with helping to facilitate that transition.
In his current role as assistant vice president, development, with Penzance, Powell evaluates, manages and oversees multiple development projects, including due diligence, underwriting, acquisition, design, construction, final project completion, and stabilization on a regional basis. He previously served as Penzance senior project manager, development and construction.
He joined NAIOP DC|MD in 2013 and quickly became involved in the chapter’s membership committee; he has served as co-chairman of the committee since 2015. He also serves on the NAIOP DC|MD board of directors. In addition, Powell belongs to NAIOP Northern Virginia and is a member of the chapter’s Fairfax County government relations subcommittee. Powell led the 3001/3003 Washington Boulevard project which received NAIOP Northern Virginia’s 2014 Award of Excellence.
NAIOP sat down with this enthusiastic leader to find out more about what drives his passion for the built environment and what factors he thinks contribute to success in commercial real estate.
NAIOP: What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your job?
Powell: The most rewarding aspect of my job is the ability to leave my mark on the built environment. We build projects that last many generations and revitalize buildings that have served previous generations. It gives me a great sense of pride to see people enjoying the projects I have been involved in building.
NAIOP: What motivated you to get involved in commercial real estate?
Powell: As a child, I loved construction. My grandfather was a general contractor, so by the time I could stand, I had a hammer in my hand. When I was working as a construction manager, I became interested in understanding the factors affecting the decision to build one product versus another, at one height or another, etc. This interest drove me to change career paths to the development side of the business; NAIOP was vital in that transition.
NAIOP: How has being a member of NAIOP helped your career?
Powell: Making the transition from construction manager to developer would have been impossible without my involvement in NAIOP. The opportunity for networking and educational programs have opened up new opportunities. One of my current projects is utilizing a structural system that has not been used extensively in our area, but could save us 25 percent versus typical concrete construction, making the project viable.
NAIOP: What advice would you offer to other young professionals in commercial real estate?
Powell: I would recommend that they build the largest network possible so that they can trade ideas with individuals from many different backgrounds. I would not be where I am today without the strong network of professionals I have built. It has been my greatest resource of information. I would also recommend that you find a mentor outside of your own organization to be a sounding board and help provide a different point of view.
This is part of a series of profiles of NAIOP’s 2016 Developing Leaders Award recipients, who have distinguished themselves through exceptional commitment and contributions to the industry. This prestigious award was presented at NAIOP’s Commercial Real Estate Conference 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Watch this two-minute video to learn more about NAIOP’s Developing Leaders program. The recipients of the 2017 Developing Leaders Award have been announced; they will be recognized at CRE.Converge 2017 in Chicago.