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Developing Leader Spotlight: A Passion for CRE, Finance and Law

Attorney Mike Riopel, a recipient of NAIOP’s 2016 Developing Leaders Award, grew up in commercial real estate as his father was a broker, developer and investor. Riopel has paired his passion for commercial real estate with his education and love of law to help clients navigate complex transactions.

Mike RiopelThis fall, Riopel joined the Milwaukee office of Husch Blackwell. He is a member of the firm’s financial services and capital markets team, where he focuses his practice on the structuring, documentation and negotiation of intricate financing, real estate, leasing and business transactions. Riopel previously worked in-house for a commercial real estate development and investment firm, managing their extensive loan portfolio, investor and financial institution relationships and drafting, negotiating and overseeing the disposition of their real estate assets.

Riopel has been a member of NAIOP Wisconsin for nearly 10 years and serves as chair of the chapter’s programs and events committee; this committee is responsible for coordinating and evaluating the overall member education programs, increase awareness and participation in educational programs and conduct seminars targeting the specific needs of various industry segments.

He is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Marquette University Center for Real Estate and a founding board member of the Real Estate Alumni of Marquette (REALM) Network. In addition, he serves on the Lending Advisory Board for ACTS Lending, the lending unit of ACTS Housing, a non-profit that helps low-income families become homeowners, and volunteers with the Tall Pines Conservancy, an organization that protects the environment in Wisconsin’s Northwestern Waukesha County.

NAIOP asked this driven leader more about his career path and what advice he would give young commercial real estate professionals.

NAIOP: What motivated you to get involved in commercial real estate?

Riopel: My father was a broker, developer and investor in several hundred multifamily units in a small town in northern Wisconsin. By an early age I was trained in property maintenance and answering tenant inquires for the portfolio. This exposure as a child inspired the passion I have for the industry today. I focused my education and early work experience to achieve a broad perspective on the ins and outs of commercial real estate and investment. My law degree has helped reinforce that foundation and my understanding of property rights to continue to build my career and fuel that passion.

NAIOP: How has being a member of NAIOP helped your career?

Riopel: My first job out of law school was the direct result of networking through NAIOP with local attorneys and following up on the trending topics discussed at various events. I used the connections I made through NAIOP to set up informational interviews and shadowing experiences which ultimately opened the door as an attorney with one of the most admired law firms in Wisconsin. The firm provided an outstanding opportunity to learn and develop skills that have catapulted my career forward, none of which would have been possible without the benefits of my active involvement in NAIOP.

NAIOP: What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your job?

Riopel: I take great pride in partnering with clients on exciting and influential projects. Oftentimes we get called in to fix and/or prevent problems and a project requires great trust between the client and the attorney to be successful. It is rewarding to leverage that trust to complete sustainable and high impact projects which better the community.

NAIOP: What advice would you offer to other young professionals in commercial real estate?

Riopel: Get involved in activities outside of the office like NAIOP, community organizations and non-profits. Not only are they great and rewarding use of your time, they are great opportunities to meet other influential and like-minded people who will be great allies throughout your career.

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.

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