In this edition of The Hiring Squad, Kent Elliott, principal at RETS Associates, a leading national real estate recruiting firm, connects with Paul Slider, director of credit and underwriting at Calmwater Capital. The two discuss Paul’s transition from the United States Air Force to a career in commercial real estate investment, his experience across the real estate capital markets, and the power of securing a recruitment partner who truly understands the heart of your business.
Kent Elliott (KE): After serving 12 years in the United States Air Force, what led you to a career in commercial real estate capital markets?
Paul Slider (PS): I joined the United States Air Force as third-generation military, where I served from 1993 to 2005 in Combat Communications as a non-commissioned officer in charge. After Sept. 11, I was sent on multiple deployments and rotations in the Middle East region. In between rotations, I was stationed in Denver, Colorado, where I invested in several properties within up-and-coming neighborhoods. Eventually, I was able to turn a profit, and from there I took a greater interest in the real estate industry. In 2005, I decided to hang up my combat boots to pursue a career in real estate and an MBA in Real Estate Finance and Development from the University of Southern California (USC). During this time, I developed a comprehensive understanding of commercial real estate capital markets, and spent four years managing new business developments, debt underwriting and debt origination on behalf of Wells Fargo’s Commercial Real Estate Group. After graduation, I was recruited to General Electric’s (GE’s) executive development program, where I spent two years rotating through three business functions within GE Capital Real Estate. After GE exited the real estate business, I spent a few years in commercial mortgage-backed securities before joining Calmwater to expand its underwriting capacity.
KE: That’s a very impressive journey, and thank you for serving our country. Can you tell me more about your role at Calmwater Capital and the positions you were looking to fill recently?
PS: Of course! Currently, I lead the credit and underwriting team, which means I’m responsible for all structuring, underwriting, and execution of senior-secured, mezzanine debt and preferred equity opportunities on behalf of Calmwater Capital. In December 2017, we closed a large fund and kicked-off 2018 with $1.1 billion in lending capacity. With this new fund and our unique commitment to certainty of execution in meeting our clients’ timing needs, we needed to hire a debt origination associate and an underwriting associate, each with a solid foundation in real estate. We are a very tight-knit team at Calmwater, so not only were we seeking talent with analytical acumen, attention to detail and strong communication skills, but candidates who were a true culture fit as well.
KE: How were you able to staff those positions quickly and effectively?
PS: I reached out to my real estate network at USC, and was provided with a list of top recruiting firms. Specifically, I heard that RETS Associates has an intuitive understanding of the real estate industry, and would be an effective partner in helping us match the best talent with our company culture and business needs. At Calmwater Capital, we are very protective of our culture, so we needed a recruiting partner who understood that and could introduce candidates with more than rudimentary skills. Through a collaborative and effective process, the firm helped us secure and sign on two, well-qualified associates in less than two months.