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Julia Wynyard discusses her career in development, her decision to start her own company, and what she’s looking forward to now.
How many years have you been in the industry?
I have been in the real estate industry for 12 years. My prior development roles were with AvalonBay Communities and Samuels & Associates. A little over a year ago, I founded my own development company, Bear Mountain Ventures.
What motivates you?
When I first realized that I wanted to be a developer, it was 2004 and I was living abroad in China. The pace of construction that I witnessed there was staggering; it felt as though I could observe the impact of development in real-time, and it struck me that I could positively influence people’s experiences by thoughtfully approaching the built environment. For me, that motivation drives everything, from placemaking that fosters community to light switch locations in an apartment.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone entering CRE?
Look for opportunities to gain experience through exposure to a volume of projects. Nothing compares to the learning achieved by “doing the reps” in this industry.
What’s your favorite thing about real estate?
I love how multidisciplinary it is. Sometimes it’s like drinking from a firehose, but it’s never boring.
What’s your biggest career accomplishment?
Starting my own development company. At my core, I’m pretty corporate, so it was a bit like jumping off a cliff. When people wanted to do business with me because of my reputation or our history of working together, instead of a brand-name that I represented, that felt like a profound accomplishment.
Why do you find ULI valuable?
ULI brings together a network of thoughtfully engaged people in a way that is unique in the industry. Whenever I’m working with ULI – whether co-chairing NEXT, as part of WLI (Women’s Leadership Initiative), participating in the strategic planning efforts, or on a TAP (Technical Assistance Panel) – I’ve come away from the experience struck by the rewarding connections that I’ve made.
What are you reading, watching, or listening to now?
In a prior life, I was a literature student, so reading is my other big love next to real estate. I’m currently reading How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, by Jenny Odell. It’s phenomenal and I can’t recommend it enough; I’m planning to go back to it many times. I listen to books when I’m in the car – I just finished Michelle Obama’s The Light We Carry this week, so I’m looking for suggestions for what to queue next. I also nurse a tall stack of parenting books (I have two kids) that I dive in and out of all the time…I keep hoping someone has an answer!
What are you looking forward to?
Especially in multifamily, I see tremendous opportunity. Under the current pressures, we are starting to think much more creatively about how the urgent need for housing attainability can be met. Whether that is re-evaluating where and how people want to live, studying new adaptive reuse solutions, or experimenting with more efficient design and construction approaches – it is all really energizing.