The first thumbtack on Robert Glenn III’s map is in inner-city Philadelphia. You’ll have to zoom out to a global view to see all the places he’s been and all the experiences that have influenced him before his 2022 return to Philadelphia as vice president at real estate investment manager Lubert Adler.
The son of a north Philly cop and south Philly educator, Glenn demonstrated prowess as an athlete and as a student. To avoid substandard schools and to nurture their only child’s skills, his parents enrolled him in the K-12 private Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, outside the city. Suddenly, Glenn found himself rising at 5 a.m. daily for what seemed like an interminable bus commute. “I was the first picked up in the morning and the last dropped off at night,” he recalled.
Glenn would grow to use his bus commute as study time over the years. He made his mark in class and later on Shipley’s playing fields in lacrosse, baseball and other sports. But it was at daily recess at age 6 when he discovered a sport that perfectly blended his budding speed and agility with a strong leg: soccer. Clearly in his element, Glenn tallied a whopping five goals in his first game for a kids’ soccer club. He’d play the game for the duration of his youth, in the off-season competing on travel teams that exposed him to different communities and diverse teammates. These were early steps in a personal journey that broadened his worldview and formed a foundation for his career, Glenn said.
Soccer also landed Glenn a full scholarship to Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he earned all-conference honors and a Bachelor of Arts in government and law. “That set the course for the rest of my career and life,” he said.
BJ Glenn and his parents at the Lafayette College men’s soccer team’s Senior Day
Though Glenn’s soccer days are behind him, mastery of challenging fields is not. Stints with The Cordish Cos., Brookfield Asset Management and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield seasoned the 12-year industry veteran for his current post overseeing fundraising, investor relations and portfolio management for Lubert Adler. Glenn, who prefers BJ to Robert, got his start out of college as an analyst for Baltimore-based development company and entertainment operator Cordish, gaining invaluable industry insights via four years in mixed-use development and retail. In 2015, Glenn joined Brookfield Asset Management as an associate and worked in leasing, acquisitions and asset management. He also entered Brookfield’s executive program and the University of Virginia’s prestigious Darden School of Business, prompted by his supervisor, Greg Meyer, who’d earned his Master of Business Administration degree there. “I felt that Darden would not only make me a better business professional; it would make me a more well-rounded person,” he said.
During Darden’s “global immersion” phase, Glenn traveled to Japan, China, Brazil, India and other countries where Brookfield had satellite offices and welcoming colleagues. “It was an eye-opener,” he said. “It connected me with people in a much broader sense and allowed me to really appreciate the scale of globalization. It’s one thing to read about countries, but it’s a lot different when you step off a plane and you’re there.” A tour of the Dharavi slums of Mumbai and a climb of the Great Wall of China from those days are embedded in his mind, Glenn said.
At the Great Wall of China, above, and at the Taj Mahal, at top
Glenn experienced another cathartic travel venture before delving farther into his career: studying international affairs for three months in 2011 at Stellenbosch University, a public research college in South Africa’s Western Cape province. “It was life changing. I got to meet and visit with people who lived through apartheid, which had just ended in 1994,” he said. “To me, it was like visiting people who had just lived through the Civil Rights era in America. It opened my mind and got me out of my comfort zone.”
In 2020, Glenn took a high-profile asset manager post at international development giant Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, leading strategic planning of many of its flagship assets. Soon, he began a two-year term in ICSC’s inaugural Next Generation Leadership Network. “I formed amazing relationships with individuals from some of the best retailers and developers domestically and internationally, and I learned so much from them,” said Glenn, an ICSC member since 2012. He added: “I have always been grateful for ICSC and all the great relationships I’ve made through it; it was the first professional organization I joined and the first big industry event I ever attended.”
The Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield flagship asset management team at the time — from left to right are Jeffrey Winston, Jennifer Miller, Anne Sewall and Derrick Metzler — at Westfield World Trade Center on BJ Glenn’s final day before paternity leave
It was around that time when he started giving back to the commercial real estate industry, motivated, he said, by “my own good fortune and the many people who opened doors for me.” He served two years on Special Olympics District of Columbia’s Young Professionals Council, promoting its mission of civil rights and social action for people with intellectual disabilities, and three years on the board of Young Real Estate Professionals of Washington, D.C., lending knowledge to young real estate professionals and promoting ways for them to give back to their communities. Glenn, 35, also has mentored in the Higher Achievement Afterschool Academy in Washington, D.C., and the NAIOP Developing Leaders program. He’s active with ULI New York and has served as vice chair for ULI New York’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and on ULI New York’s Young Leaders Group committee and Management Committee.
Glenn is grateful for the support that employers have offered for his efforts around recruitment of young people and minorities. “This has been very important to me because this is the way to bring good people into the business and not make them feel like outsiders,” he said, “especially before we lose them to another industry.” Glenn sees a marked increase in traditionally white male-dominated businesses offering opportunities to minorities, he said.
Glenn’s experience with three industry heavyweights in acquisitions, asset management, international business and the investment side of fundraising proved to be value-adds when he joined Lubert Adler in early 2022. It allowed him to start full speed, speaking investors’ language, understanding diverse client perspectives “and digging right down into the nuances of deals,” he said.
In high-interest environments like the present, it’s a challenge to find the right play at the right time, he said, “especially one that provides returns while protecting the downside for where we are in market. We’re fortunate to have experienced senior leaders here who understand cycles. I think the industry is in the early stages of understanding how things are going to settle out after this and what opportunities will present themselves when it does.”
Glenn feels fortunate to have had colleagues, sponsors, and mentors who’ve guided him both personally and professionally, such as his parents; CBRE senior managing director of property management Lawrence Zipf, who also is Glenn’s father-in-law; VeLa principal Taylor Gray, formerly vice president of development for Cordish; Real Estate Executive Council CEO Ken McIntyre; and Lubert Adler CEO Dean Adler and president Gerry Ronon, among many others. Glenn’s faith, family, friends and dedication to fitness sustain him in his fast-paced life, as does his wife, Christina, who started in the industry at CBRE and now works as a regional real estate manager for popular convenience store chain Wawa. The two met at Shipley School and went to Lafayette College together.
The couple’s 20-month-old daughter, Bobbie, keeps them on their toes. Glenn said they commit “to turning off our brains when we get home and avoiding shoptalk.” He added: “Bobbie has been the greatest blessing that Christina and I could have ever wished for, and she always finds a funny way of doing something that puts things in perspective at the end of any long workday.”
BJ, Christina and Bobbie Glenn
By Steve McLinden
Contributor, Commerce + Communities Today
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