Lunch with Power REIT’s David Lesser (’87, MBA ’88)
On November 6, Cornell students had the fortunate opportunity to meet David Lesser (’87, MBA ’88), Power REIT’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. In a private setting at Taverna Banfi, eight undergraduates were able to engage in an organic and interactive conversation with David Lesser on topics ranging from his real estate endeavors and mentorship, to the idea of idea of co-generation and the potential for tax optimal capital structures to add value.
Student thoughts and takeaways:
“I really enjoyed how at points the conversation developed to the point where the whole group was chiming in and asking questions. Interesting topics: tax capital structures and co-generation. Capital-structure: A lot of what he is doing is taking equity positions in real estate and then housing it in REITs to benefit from their favorable tax structure which I think is pretty innovative. Co-generation: The idea is that you can have localized, in-building, power generators that efficiently and cheaper simultaneously power and heat the building. The idea makes the most sense in the NE where there exists cheap gas and a need to heating buildings.
- The importance of pairing classroom learning with experience
- Be willing to walk away from something that isn’t what you want to do” – James Spanjaard, AEM ’14
“His [David Lesser’s] work at Student Agencies really spoke to me on the importance of finding ways to apply material covered in class to extracurricular projects and organizations. The importance of mentorship was also a big takeaway. A key example was when he recalled his 360˚ moment when he was thanked for his mentorship in much the same way that he had thanked his own mentor for his guidance and advice.” – Maria Jiang, ’16
“As someone interested in Real Estate, this event allowed me to meet David Lesser in a small group setting and ask him about his experiences and his endeavors in the industry. I enjoyed learning about Mr. Lesser’s interesting path from a stable investment banking job to what many would consider to be a big risk by starting a REIT. This event reminded me that I should value my practical extracurricular experiences as much as I do my academic studies. Additionally, it made me realize that I need to take at least one of Professor Streeter’s courses before I graduate.” – Zachary Leighton, AEM ’15
“David Lesser spoke a lot about his current ventures with sustainable energy and REITs. I really enjoyed hearing about his experiences at Cornell and how they shaped his career. I gained a better understanding of how career pivots can change one’s entire trajectory, and entrepreneurship can take someone into a vast variety of fields. I also gained some perspective on what fantastic opportunities are available here on campus.” – Laura Furman, ILR ’15
David Lesser’s Biography
Mr. David Lesser is Power REIT’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Lesser, whose career began in investment banking, has over 25 years of experience in real estate investment and finance. Mr. Lesser has previously held leadership roles with public real-estate investment trusts (REITs), having served as a Senior Vice President of Crescent Real Estate Equities and as a Director of Keystone Property Trust. Mr. Lesser’s investment firm sponsored the merger of two real estate companies into a small capitalization REIT (American Real Estate Investments) to ultimately form Keystone Property Trust which was listed on the American Stock Exchange (ticker: KTR). Prior to Crescent, Mr. Lesser was a Director in Merrill Lynch’s real-estate investment banking group. Mr. Lesser is currently, and has been for the past 15 years, president of Hudson Bay Partners, LP, an investment firm focused on real estate, real estate-related situations and alternative energy. He also serves as a trustee of the Town Hall in New York City. Mr. Lesser holds an M.B.A. from Cornell University and a B.S. in Applied Management and Economics from Cornell University.