ULI’s incoming global chairman, Tom Toomey, is the first chief executive of a publicly traded company to serve in a chairmanship for the Institute. Toomey leads UDR, a real estate investment trust (REIT) invested in more than 50,000 apartment homes—including units under development—in targeted U.S. markets. The S&P 500 company makes its headquarters in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Entering a conference room at ULI’s Washington, D.C., office, Toomey settled in with a few accessories: a black leather cigar case, a cigar trimmer, and a paper coffee cup. He snips a generous inch off the cigar, discards the tip in the cup, replaces the lid, and chomps on the cigar.
Q: What are your thoughts about the business and economic climate?
We are now living in a world of extreme transparency and volatility. And, like every organization and every individual, we can shy and retreat from it, or we can look at it as an opportunity. Volatility creates opportunity for those who are resourceful, can tap other knowledgeable people, and are excited about development and proper land use. ULI is about how to improve yourself and the things that you build.
There is a wide variety of opportunities for ULI and its members. We can start with looking at our membership and our mission. The mission means different things to different members. In my 30s, when I came to ULI, mission was about connecting with individuals about the next deal. In my 40s, that became connecting to peers, looking for the next idea. Into my 50s, mission has drifted to the impact I have on those who I care about, my company, the proper use of land, and the planet—the people that live here and their quality of life being elevated for all. Later in my career—and I’m not quite there—mission will be about giving back and how I can extend my legacy. ULI has been at all three of the four phases of my career so far, and I hope that it will be there for the fourth.
Read the full interview here.