Editor’s note: In December of 2016, the Baker Program will be taking its second annual international (1st intercontinental trip) real estate trek. This year’s destination is Seoul, Korea. This post is part of a series intended to introduce our readers to several of the incredible Baker Program alumni currently working in Korea. This interview was conducted by Baker Program student Youngjean Yang.
It is a great pleasure to introduce Jun Bum Park (Baker ’04) before the upcoming Baker Program Seoul International Trek. JB is a young Korean real estate figure and International Director at LaSalle Investment Management in Korea. He graduated from Cornell in 2004 (MPSRE) and has been working on the investment and acquisitions side of the business in Korea for more than 10 years. Due to his work in the Korean real estate market for global investors like Lehman Brothers, Standard Chartered Bank, and LaSalle, he can provide an inside perspective of the Korean real estate market from a foreign investor’s perspective.
Career in the Real Estate Industry
Please tell us about your company.
I belong to LaSalle Investment Management (“LaSalle”), a global real estate private equity firm with c. U$60 billion of assets under management. The company pursues a variety of strategies from core to opportunistic across the globe through offices in 17 countries including HQ in Chicago, London and Korea. LaSalle is a 100% owned affiliate of NYSE listed JLL.
What is your role in the company? Please tell us about your career path before joining your current company.
I joined LaSalle as the Head of Acquisitions – Korea in 2011, but my role evolved to be the head of Client Capital Group Korea and a representative director of LaSalle Investment Management Ltd, which is a fully regulated entity (“AMC”). With my current role, I am responsible for fund-raising for LaSalle products from Korean investors as well as operation of the AMC.
Prior to joining LaSalle, I had worked in Global Commercial Real Estate Group at Lehman Brothers and Mezzanine Solutions at Standard Chartered Bank where I was acting as an acquisitions officer for Korea.
I believe that Cornell created a critical path for me to join the industry as my experience in real estate prior to joining Cornell was limited.
Life at Cornell
Why did you choose Cornell? What is the most essential value that you brought from Cornell?
The Baker Program at Cornell was my top-choice for several reasons. Firstly, it provided the widest and deepest network in the real estate industry in Korea, which I needed the most given my short background in real estate when I decided to go to the graduate school. Secondly, it was one of the few programs that offered a full 2-years of curriculum by a most reputable faculty, and, lastly, life in Ithaca looked attractive to me and my family.
Please share your best memory at Cornell.
- The day when the Class of 2004 had our orientation. Everyone was new and a bit nervous, but we were good at the end. It was the first day of my professional career in real estate, which lasts until now.
- The day when Ana Park, my daughter, was born in Ithaca in 2003, which completely changed my social life.
- The day when I got an offer for an internship at Samsung Securities which led to a permanent position in investment banking after graduation.
Regarding the Seoul Trek
Please tell us about the Korean real estate market.
The Korean real estate market is relatively small compared to major markets in the U.S., UK or Japan, but it is still quite sizable in absolute terms. It is known to provide good risk-adjusted returns between developed and developing countries, and it can actually be one of few choices for global investors if they come to Asia for investments in real estate. In this regard, Korea plays a key role as part of a diversified portfolio in Asia for global investors.
What has made Korea more popular recently is liquidity in capital markets as a source of capital in alternative investments, including real estate. The size of Korean pension funds has rapidly increased as the country ages quickly, and most pensions are allocating more to alternative investments for stable and higher income compared to equity and bonds, which has attracted global private equity firms.
Any advice or message to Baker students for the trip?
This will be a rare chance to visit Seoul in your life, as people tend to visit Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong when they come to Asia. However, Seoul has its uniqueness; Seoul was completely rebuilt from a scratch after the Korean War and has experienced rapid growth since then, which will offer a great mix of modern architecture and traditional palaces. I am expecting to meet you all in Seoul, so enjoy your stay and experience the exotic culture as much as possible.