During our Annual Company Livestream Meeting and Awards Ceremony that took place earlier this year, Sean Bowlus took home the MVP award! We checked in with Sean recently about what that moment was like. Take a look:
PSB: Sean, tell us a bit about yourself and your role at PS Business Parks (PSB).
Sean: I’ve been with PS Business Parks for nine years. I was hired as an operations analyst for the Executive Team. This position allowed me to interact with nearly every team within PSB, from leasing, property management, accounting/finance, and acquisitions. As I grew within PSB, my role shifted away from an operations analyst to senior real estate manager. In my current roll, I report directly to the vice president of real estate. I am primarily responsible for overseeing underwriting of all acquisition and disposition opportunities, providing financial analysis on development opportunities and helping oversee eminent domain/condemnation matters impacting our real estate. Prior to joining PSB, my first job out of college was working as a derivatives trader during the Great Financial Crisis. I also worked for my father’s development company doing project financial analysis.
PSB: Congratulations on your MVP award! What was your first thought when your name was called to receive this award?
Sean: My role and responsibilities within PSB are unique to just me, so I knew my name was going to be called when Maria starting listing out the clues, which gave me time to think about what I was going to say. My first thought was to recognize how many people were responsible for helping me get to where I am with PSB today. Since my first day on the job, I’ve been surrounded by people who consistently advocated for me to have opportunities to grow and take on more responsibility. While the MVP award is an individual recognition, I share my gratitude with everyone who helped me achieve it.
PSB: What is something invaluable that you’ve learned at PSB?
Sean: Be adaptable. Everyone has the perfect plan until it goes wrong. The ability to adapt enabled me to respond effectively to my working conditions and resolve problems successfully, even in situations where things did not go as planned.
PSB: What is the best project you have worked on thus far?
Sean: My primary role today is to evaluate acquisition opportunities that will grow our platform. What I find fascinating is that every deal opportunity is different in that it provides its own unique set of challenges that need to be overcome in order to convert opportunities into value. NVIP was a 19 building 1.1 million square foot industrial park located in Northern Virginia. To start, we had 17 days to conduct our due diligence, which is very short for a deal of this size, but our operations and construction teams managed our vendors and conducted all necessary due diligence items within our timeframe. The biggest opportunity and challenge on this park was that it had historically not operated above 80% occupancy. This was primarily because most of the vacancy was attributed to large block spaces where there was very little demand in the market. We determined the best strategy would be to demise the large blocks of vacancy into smaller spaces where there was more demand in the market. Fast forward nearly three years, we completed our repositioning plan on budget, we are operating at 93% occupancy, and on our way to 95%. This case study is a real testament to our acquisition, construction, and operations teams working together from the beginning to execute successfully on our strategy.
PSB: What is your proudest moment at PSB?
Sean: My proudest moment comes from a deal we were evaluating, but didn’t execute on. Along with Coby and our Executive Team, together we were evaluating an acquisition opportunity from a very large and very well-known private equity group. I had voiced my concerns about the deal economics and the underwriting assumptions put forth by the seller. Ultimately, we passed on the deal. After our team meeting in which we decided to not to proceed, former CEO, Maria Hawthorne called me into her office to personally tell me how appreciative she was of my thoughtful analysis and how much she valued my opinion. This is a moment in my career when two things were validated for me—first, the Executive Team respected my opinion and two, sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t do.