Why I Volunteered for CREC

There are a number of reasons I not only joined CREC, but also volunteered to serve on the Steering Committee to help (re)launch the organization, and they can all be summed up in one word: opportunity. I seized the opportunity to (i) expand my professional network, (ii) stay connected to the school that is a memorable and important part of my education and career development, and (iii) help shape me as a leader as I interact with other leaders.

Robert B. Lathan, Baker ’17, recently completed his Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate with a concentration in Finance and Investments at Cornell. Before attending Cornell, Robert worked in real estate debt origination at Bay Equity in Laguna Hills, CA


Professional Networking

In the brief time since I have been a Cornell alumnus, having graduated from the Baker Program in 2017, I have seen firsthand the strong ties that bind together Cornell alumni. I was familiar with such alumni connections, having graduated from a private school in the greater Boston area, and then completing my undergraduate studies at Stanford University (yes, Cornell of the West!), but in my experience the Cornell alumni network is especially strong. When I heard through Dustin Jones that real estate alumni were exploring the formation of an alumni real estate organization I raised my hand to get involved.

Over the last several months that I have been working with a core group of Cornell alumni to launch CREC, I have been amazed at the opportunities to interact with alumni in key industry positions and begin to build relationships, all of which have jump started my strategic goal of building a robust professional network. I believe that this network will prove invaluable over the years in sharing ideas and best practices, helping source business opportunities, and perhaps providing career or job assistance in the future.

Connection to Cornell University

My desire to stay connected to Cornell was an obvious motivator to get involved with CREC. CREC serves as a conduit between alumni who are real estate professionals and Cornell’s real estate-related academic programs and students. Making sure that I am engaged with CREC on a more in-depth level assures that my connection will remain strong, regardless of where my career takes me.

My time at Cornell was intense and rewarding; I found the Baker Program teaching top notch, and the ability to interact with professors and students from world class programs like the School of Hotel Administration, the Johnson Graduate School of Management and AAP helped deepen my knowledge and insight. I was able to build direct relationships with professors and administrators as well as Ph.D. students, and combine the theoretical with the practical when guest lecturers came to campus to talk about their projects and share life lessons.

As a member of, and volunteer for CREC, I am giving back to the school that has done so much for me, and I can contribute to the development of students who are going through what I just completed.

Growing New Leaders

Finally, I believe that as I interact with CREC members, most of whom are leaders in their company, area of specialty and in our industry, I will develop my own leadership skills. I believe that CREC can afford young graduates like myself the opportunity to interact with senior people that would not be possible in the ordinary course of a job right out of school.

And of course Cornell’s diversity means that CREC is likely to attract a much wider range of real estate disciplines than would a finance-oriented alumni group. In my opinion that type of diversity leads to more creative thought, a more interesting dialog and a superior result—and that’s what can really help me develop as a leader.