Photo Credit: Toll Brothers
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Rashaad Robinson

Rashaad is a second-year candidate pursing an MPS in Real Estate at the Baker Program of Real Estate. Prior to the program, Rashaad was the owner and founder of a residential real estate company that specialized in value-add acquisitions. He is a proud United States Air Force Veteran and fan of travel. Upon completion of his studies at Cornell, Rashaad will be working in the Investment Management Division at Goldman Sachs.

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Prior to the start of my studies in the Baker Program in Real Estate, I interned for the summer in Toll Brothers’ corporate headquarters in Horsham, PA.  By spending time with their internal consulting division, I was able to understand and contribute to a multitude of different functions within this Fortune 500, luxury homebuilder.  I was exposed to the company’s land acquisition division, sales team, procurement, executive office, operations, development, city living, and a variety of different arms of the organization.

Toll Brothers was founded in 1967. As a Fortune 500, award-winning company, they have grown to become the nation's leading builder of luxury homes.
Toll Brothers was founded in 1967. As a Fortune 500, award-winning company, they have grown to become the nation’s leading builder of luxury homes. Photo Credit: Rashaad Robinson

Prior to Toll Brothers, I owned a real estate company in the Midwest that acquired distressed properties with a simple goal: To provide value-add, renovated properties to investors and a seamless rental experience to tenants.  Through the process of building the business, I became aware of the blind spots in my managerial abilities as well as my lack of conventional real estate knowledge when it came to certain facets of the process. Indeed, upon joining Toll Brothers, I had virtually zero experience in a large, corporate organization nor knowledge of the conventional real estate development process.  I would later learn that there is no such thing as a conventional process.  At the time, I was apprehensive that I would be walking into the Baker Program in Real Estate behind the intellectual and experiential curve.  I wanted to understand what the next step in my professional career would be prior to starting the program as well as gain tangible and valuable experience.  With little conventional work experience — the closest thing to it would be my time in the United States Air Force — the challenge for me would be applying my past experiences towards the internship in a way that could benefit both me as well as Toll Brothers.  Walking into Toll Brothers would prove to be an entirely new challenge that would help me frame exactly what I wanted to get out of my time in the Baker Program in Real Estate.

My experience at Toll Brothers proved to be extremely valuable in my successful transition back into an academic setting.  Tom Staley, Director of Business Improvement at Toll Brothers, was one of my first points of contact at the firm.  Tom’s past professional experience as a United States Air Force officer helped to bridge the gap in my experience as a veteran and my newfound interest in experiencing real estate from the perspective of a large organization. Prior to coming to Toll Brothers, Tom spent several years as a strategic consultant at McKinsey.  His unconventional perspective proved to be extremely valuable to Toll Brothers and allowed me to quickly orient myself to the company.

Senior Editor Rashaad Robinson at the Annual Intern Day, held at Toll Brothers' corporate office in Horsham, PA.
Senior Editor Rashaad Robinson at the Annual Intern Day, held at Toll Brothers’ corporate office in Horsham, PA. Photo Credit: Rashaad Robinson

One of the major projects I was tasked with over the summer involved looking at Building Information Modeling (BIM) and the value that it can bring to an organization over an extended period of time.  At the time, Toll Brothers had been several years into the adoption and use of BIM within the architectural division.  Over several years it became apparent within the organization that BIM had the potential to be a much bigger time and money saver than had been estimated. As opposed to just viewing it from the frame of architecture, Toll Brothers sought to explore the value that BIM could have and had been having in different steps in the development process, such as decreasing the amount of errors on the job site, identifying savings, and mitigating risk.  I was given the task of quantifying the immediate and long-term value that expanded use of BIM would have.

At the end of the summer, I was asked to give a presentation on my findings to a steering committee within Toll Brothers so that they would have better information with which to make future decisions. Through my time at the corporate office it became evident that Toll Brothers is one of many real estate developers that is constantly seeking to increase the level of efficiency and cost savings within the value chain, without negatively impacting the quality of their products.

Overall, my experience at Toll Brothers proved to be immensely valuable.  Looking at it through this technical lens, I was able to increase my critical thinking skills throughout the real estate development process.  Just as important, I was able to reaffirm my decision to join the Baker Program in Real Estate the following August.  My passion for real estate was valued through my internship and I left Toll Brothers more excited than ever to continue my career in the field

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