This month, get to know member Michael Douglas, who serves as the Young Leaders Group Chair for ULI Columbus. The Toledo native has been building his career in Columbus since graduating from Ohio State University with specializations in corporate finance and real estate. For the past two years, Douglas has served as Senior Financial Analyst for Kaufman Development, a full-service real estate firm offering investment, construction, development and management of multifamily, mixed-use and residential redevelopment. Prior to his current role, Douglas spent five years at Glimcher Realty Trust and Washington Prime Group.
Michael Douglas, Senior Financial Analyst, Kaufman Development
Hobbies: Walking around Columbus, biking in Pelotonia
Favorite restaurant: Barley’s Brewing
Favorite reading: ULI Magazine
If I could meet one person: Michael Douglas, the actor, because I’m constantly compared to him—every day, for my whole life
Favorite thing about Columbus: I’m a Buckeye, so I love the Buckeye culture
What do you do for Kaufman Development and how does that tie in with ULI Columbus?
Douglas: I’m a Senior Financial Analyst here, so I look at all our pro formas for any kind of developments we would do. I look at all of our potential acquisitions, I get to see all the cool sites that are on the market—or maybe not on the market yet. My relationship with ULI directly correlates, whether it’s people that are owning sites that are on the market, or it’s architects or whoever it is that could help us make something cool on a site. I definitely see a lot of the same people both outside of work and inside of work. I think ULI helps makes those connections easier, you have someone to talk to.
How did you get involved with ULI Columbus?
Douglas: It started when I was at Ohio State, I heard people come to the classroom to talk about it. And then when I started off in my first job at Glimcher Realty Trust, my boss at the time said, “Hey, why don’t you join. But you can’t just join for the magazine, you actually have to get involved.” That’s probably some of the best advice that I’ve ever received, because it’s paid off wonders. He was involved himself, and through that I met a lot of people all over the Columbus real estate community.
What have you gained from being involved?
Douglas: It’s exposure to the players in Columbus. I think the best example I can give would be, you’re researching a project and you know someone who has worked on it, whether they’ve appraised the site or they have done work there in the past. And just through those relationships you can call people up and say, “Hey, what’s the real story behind this land? Is this something we should be interested in or not? What do you think?” So it’s giving the honest feedback that you might not find in some marketing material, some brochures, that has really benefited me here. ULI also provides online classes that are great for employee development.
What’s your leadership role?
Douglas: I am the Young Leaders Group Chair here in Columbus and I got that role through participation—I started off early, I started off immediately with the Mentor Program. That was something that spoke to me when I was at Ohio State, that helped me get to my first job at Glimcher. And that ended up leading to a Vice Chair position under Allison Srail (Crawford Hoying) who was then the Chair. That was great, I got exposure to what it takes to run an organization. And now as Chair of the Young Leaders Group here locally, I am responsible for putting on all of our events, making sure that our events are things that Young Leaders Group members want to see, and that they’re exciting and provide benefit. We have four signature events throughout the year. We have the annual Mentor Program, which is how I initially got involved. We have a Young Leaders Studio. We also do a Learn From the Best event. And then there’s the Hines Competition. It’s been a great experience.
What would you say to somebody who’s thinking about joining ULI Columbus?
Douglas: Well, I would say, do it. When I’ve talked to people about the Young Leaders Group, I always say it’s a way to connect those that know with those that want to know. But really, especially being a Young Leader in Columbus, it’s hard to get exposure sometimes to that senior leadership you don’t necessarily know. You might think, oh, I think this is the field I want to be in. Or maybe you know it’s the field you want to be. But who are the major players, who’s going to help me get to that next level? You get to learn from everyone who’s involved, whether it’s people in your same career or not.
What’s the most exciting thing going on in Columbus?
Douglas: Working for a developer, I’m going to say the development. There’s so much development that’s happening here, there’s so many sky cranes in the air. To walk out of your door every day—our offices are here in the Short North—it changes, honestly, hourly. But daily, weekly, it’s always something different. It’s the excitement of something new, something changing. And, really, the people here love growth, they love their community. And it’s unique. It’s great to be around a bunch of people that have a bunch of pride for the community and want to see it grow.