Shimon Shkury | President & Founder | Ariel Property Advisors | Building on great partnerships for success


DA: Welcome to TEN, the Tenant Experience Network. I’m your host, David Abrams. In this episode, we are connecting with Shimon Shkury, president and founder, Ariel Property Advisors. In this episode, we learn that Shimon’s career journey began in 2002, working at a CRE firm that this podcast knows well, Massey Knakal, thanks to my conversations on TEN with Bob Knakal and Paul J. Massey. About a year into that relationship, Shimon was given the opportunity to run Upper Manhattan and The Bronx as a partner. Shimon went on to hire several key people to support him in that effort, and together, they eventually left to start Ariel Property Advisors. At the core of Ariel’s mandate is research. Half the team works in research, and in turn, partners with the sales and investment teams. Layered on top of that are capital services and mortgage brokers. You have to listen to the episode to hear Shimon’s story about being laid off from his first job, but somehow also meeting his life partner. He credits the key to his success to his partners at Ariel. Shimon shares insights on the current state of the market, as well as his beliefs on the opportunities ahead of us. He has a great read on what building operators need to do to create more compelling workplaces, and suggested the idea of forming a board, consisting of both building operators and the occupants, to come together and discuss emerging issues in CRE. Shimon is excited about the emerging changes in the office sector and truly loves what he does. We’re excited to share this podcast with you, so be sure to subscribe to TEN so you never miss an episode of the Tenant Experience Network. And now I’d like to welcome Shimon to the show. I’m really glad you could be with us, and I’m looking forward to our conversation. How are you today?

SS: I’m doing great, David. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to speak to you. And that’s it, you know?

DA: All right.

SS: Beautiful day in New York City.

DA: Awesome. Well, it is in Toronto as well, and I’m glad we were able to connect. Let’s start with one of my favorite questions. Tell us about your journey to your current position role. How did you get started? How did you get into commercial real estate?

SS: Okay, so let me start from the end. I run what I think is a great company, Ariel Property Advisors. We decided that as a brokerage firm, we want to start with advisory first. And so we built, over the years, a very robust research group. And that research group is a part of our, it’s half of our 60-person operation, so 30 people in our brokerage firm do research. They’re research analysts and sales support people that really accommodate our sales teams, eventually clients. We also have an investment sales group that clearly sells buildings throughout the city. We kind of structured it in a sub-market, sub-segment, territorial market. So each one of the investment sales professionals focuses in a very specific niche, which we think is the ultimate expertise. And then we layered onto that. We layered onto that capital services, which are mortgage brokers that work in tandem with these investment sales professionals and really develop or build the best kind of service for our clients, in a way. We do it with, you know, we have a specific mission statement, which is about empowerment of our clients and the neighborhoods we work with, as well as the brokers. We work with core values, all about teamwork, for example. And we’ve, you know, we’ve done pretty well here in the city of New York. Our start as a company, and eventually a partnership, was about 21 years ago. I joined a company that you know, called Massey Knakal, in 2002. And about a year into it, Paul and Bob came to me. I’m very grateful for them in general, for taking me in at the time, but also told me, “Look, we see that you have potential. Why don’t you run Upper Manhattan and The Bronx for us as a partner?” And I said, “Great opportunity, thank you so much,” and took it on. And what happened, David, is I hired three key people. One was Victor Sozio, then Mike Tortorici and Ivan Petrovic, all of which started with me as interns at Massey Knakal. And we grew up as a team over the years, and they helped me form that great business that we developed at the time for Massey Knakal, which was in Northern Manhattan, The Bronx. And fast-forward to January of 2011, Vic, Mike, Ivan and I started Ariel Property Advisors as partners. And we were joined eventually by Paul McCormick and Sean Kelly, who are our partners as well. And we want to grow that 60% operation to more partners and do more good in New York City in what we do and how we work, if that makes sense.

DA: Well, that’s great, and obviously, I’ve had Bob and Paul both on our podcast, and amazing guests, very gracious, and just really offered so many insights into the commercial estate industry. So wonderful that you’ve come out of that same, that family, as they like to call it. And congratulations on your success.

SS: Yeah, thank you so much. I think they’ve groomed a lot of really great people in the industry. A lot of credit to them, to the way we took that territory system. We thought it was a great idea. We just did it a little differently, with the research in the middle of the center, and breaking up the silos of the brokerage, so to speak, so everybody can really cooperate. But, yeah, I give them a lot of credit. I think they’re great people.

DA: And was that your first foray into commercial real estate, joining their firm originally?

SS: That is correct. I actually got laid off from a banking job right after September 11. I did about six months of banking job. I came out of business school. I went to, my dream. I grew up in Israel. My dream was to go to business school in my 20s. And I wanted to go to Wharton, and I got in, and I got into Wharton and did an MBA and an MA at the Lauder Institute, Wharton and Lauder, and had a fantastic two years. Got three job offers. One of them was in banking. As I said, I got laid off. And two great things happened out of that getting laid off thing right after September 11. The first one, which I think is the most important one, is that I met my wife. And, you know, a week after I got laid off, I went online. The first person that smiled at me on a, like a solicitation from, I subscribed to it, paid 30 bucks or whatever it was, and we dated. And the rest is history. And we’re still happily married.

DA: Wow.

SS: And the second thing is that I, yeah, the second. It’s amazing how things work, and I think it’s all about your mindset, right? You get laid off, you can be really sad, which I was for five minutes, but then the opportunity was right there. And the second thing that happened was that I changed my career from trying to be an investment banker or consultant to being more entrepreneurial, and going to the brokerage world and developing a business there, which was, again, a great thing that happened to me. I grew up in Israel, as I said, and I think that contributed to a lot of the success, the five years that I did in the army and the family that I had and the support throughout the years. So that’s very, very helpful.

DA: Amazing. Thanks for sharing that. And I guess a shout-out to all those online matchmaking services. I guess they work.

SS: Oh, my God. Yes. 22 years ago, or more than that by now, but, yes, 20, 21, 22 years ago. So, yeah.

DA: Wow. Amazing. So why do you think you were so uniquely suited to this position ? Like, mean, you know, you started out in the investment banking side, but, you know, making that switch to real estate, why do you think that industry just turned out to be the right place for you and ultimately has led to your success?

SS: I think that, you know, once I realized that I have certain skills that don’t necessarily exist in brokerage at the time, at least at the time, where I could develop something that’s unique. I have this innate desire to take our business, our brokerage business, make it more and more professional and more and more giving, in a way. And understand that it revolves around information. That advisory, first, it’s not just about the transactions. It’s really about the day-to-day grind of explaining people or helping people understand where the market is, where their building value is, and what we can do to help and how to transact better. And so that’s number one. Number two is very early on, I understood, and I still do, my shortfalls. I mean, everybody has some strength and weaknesses. So I always surrounded myself by people who I thought could add value or we could add value to each other. And so I’m very fortunate, I mentioned my wife, she’s my rock. She’s the best thing that happened to me. And I’ll mention my partners because we’ve been partners, or together even before we were partners, for a very, very long period of time. So I think that is a huge part of my personal success, that I’m able to have these kind of people in my life, growing with me over time. So it’s people. And then, I think the understanding that I don’t know everything and I don’t know what I don’t know. So, again, trusting people to bring you over these bridges and listening more over time. I didn’t always listen, just listening more and being open to criticism and to growing out of it, if that makes any sense to you. But really, the bottom line is I knew that information was missing in the industry, and we’re here to solve that problem, especially in New York City, and more specifically in multifamily, which is what we do a lot.

DA: Right. Well, listen, I loved how, you know, even early on in the conversation, you gave a shout-out to your partners even, almost as soon as we began. And you just gave them another shout-out. And I think that speaks to sort of your approach and your understanding and appreciation that it’s the people that work with you and around you that are helping to contribute to your success, so. And it’s amazing that you’ve been able to cultivate those relationships. And, clearly, they’re important and, clearly, they’re a big part of the reason why your company has been successful.

SS: Absolutely. I think that it’s all about people, especially in our business. It’s a people business. And it’s all about figuring out how to service, how the platform can service the partners, the brokers, everybody who works in it, better. ‘Cause that then reflects on the clients and the outside world.

DA: Right. Listen, I think we can both agree, and you’ve been through a few turbulent times before now, but I think you’ll agree that the last number of years for commercial real estate have certainly been challenging. We’ve got, you know, commercial real estate, the largest asset class in the world, it’s continuing to rebound from this prolonged period of low levels of occupancy. It’s evolving to meet, you know, the emerging needs of people in buildings, and really trying to figure out what business it’s in and how to deliver a different level of customer experience. Our team certainly believes that we’re at a unique point in time, where this notion of workplace and how workplace fits in this much larger ecosystem is, you know, a really interesting opportunity for buildings and an opportunity for workspaces to really be different and offer something different and offer a different value to that end user. So we know that now people can work from anywhere, particularly on the office side of this world. They can work from a coworking space, from a local cafe, from a vacation destination. So that industry, that sort of sector of commercial real estate has certainly been one of the hardest hit. You’re very involved in speaking about, you know, the state of commercial real estate, and I believe just issued one of your Coffee and Cap Rate presentations. So really excited to tap into your expertise and the lens that you bring to this industry. And just curious as to sort of what you’re seeing right now in commercial real estate as it’s continuing to reimagine itself. Any top-line sort of observations that you can share for our listeners?

SS: Yeah, absolutely, David, and thanks for asking this question. We’re, first of all, I got to tell you that one of the missions or one of the things that I see is exciting is just being in New York City real estate, in good times and in bad times. And when you look at the numbers, you’re trying to find what the narrative is. And if you look at the past six months, you see that transaction volume dropped by about 43%, right? So you see that it’s only $13 billion. It was a lot more last year. But that’s not something we didn’t anticipate. We expected that because of interest rates as of last year. And we knew that’s going to happen. What we didn’t anticipate, for example, are bank failures, which was a big issue. We didn’t expect the speed at which some of the landlords would hand over keys to the lenders, right? Office landlords, specifically. And so, and that wasn’t because of anything. It wasn’t because of an economic downturn. It wasn’t because of certain structural changes. And I think, David, that’s exactly what’s fascinating about this specific time. Three things that we see. Underlying fundamentals in office are weak, and we’ll talk about that. The second is regulation. It hurts multifamily rent stabilized and it hurts land developers. And the third thing is, the third thing is, clearly, interest rates and the cost of capital. So these are the three things that we see that affect everything moving forward. Now, this is also an opportunity, and that’s where, you know, we’re in a period of time right now of repricing, in a way. Assets are going or coming down in terms of value. And we can talk about the different aspects of office and the different aspects of multifamily. And if you look at an office market, you see, as I said, fundamentally, you see that only 50%, on average, of the people are going to the office, But it’s not across the board. It’s not across the board. I mean, we saw about $2.4 billion of transactions in the first six months of the year, which is one of the lowest periods of time in the past 10 years. And we’re trying to figure out if there’s any other ways we can understand this office market from a transactional perspective, or in a better way, who’s investing today in office? And you see two trends. Mortgage maturities, that’s one of the aspects that is happening, right? So you have mortgage maturities that are showing you two things. One is the RXRs and Blackstones of the world taking some buildings they don’t believe in, right, and letting them go, handing keys over to landlords. But then you see the same type of companies actually holding on to other class A office that’s low vacancy, high rent. The same people, the same groups, like the RXR and the Tishmans, they’re holding on. They’re extending mortgages. In some cases, they’re investing equity to pay down debt. You SL Green taking 245 Park Avenue and recapitalizing it at a price that’s about 10% lower than 2017. So we’re talking about not only SL Green keeping that asset, but also bringing new equity in this market to recapitalize. So really, you have kind of the world of investors who want to be in the class A office that’s doing really, really well and is repriced because of interest rates. And you have the, all the way, the other side of the world, of buildings that are kind of maybe obsolete or you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen with them. And then there’s a lot of things that are somewhere in between. And then you see, you know, Namdar, for example, buying office buildings at a discount or you see NYU and Google buying their own office buildings to be in. And you see J.P. Morgan doing the same thing. You see life sciences, you see some conversions to residential. So there’s a lot happening in the office market, but it’s definitely in transition, if that makes sense.

DA: It is, and I think you’re right. I think the fact, you know, it’s not like there’s one trend or one sort of, you know, direction it’s heading. It’s literally a bailiwick of just tremendous opportunity. And, you know, I think you’re right when you talked about sort of the class A and the flight to quality. You’ve talked about sort of the far extreme, the buildings maybe being obsolete. And then there’s a whole bunch of buildings in between. You know, we believe that the B and C buildings in New York, in particular, have actually a tremendous opportunity. Not all will survive, but for those that are truly still committed and offering a bespoke, you know, experience and recognizing that they’re no longer in the business of just providing space, but how do they compete with that class A building and how do they provide an unparalleled customer experience through a variety of different means? And we’re thinking about how technology can help to sort of differentiate and be that equalizer, I think there’s a lot of opportunity. And we’re work working with, you know, several building partners in New York that are fully leased and that are thriving. So it’s not feast or famine for all, but it is going to be, I guess, you know, who’s prepared to dig in and be creative-

SS: That’s right.

DA: And reimagine their business? So, you know-

SS: That’s exactly it.

DA: Seeing specifically in that B and C space? Any interesting trends or opportunities there?

SS: I think that overall, you’re hitting some really great points, David. I think the first thing to think about when you think about a B or C building is can it attract tenancy at a certain price point, right? That’s really what you’re trying to figure out. And if the answer is yes, then what do you need to do? And I think when it comes to office space, and I can tell you this also as a tenant, you want the best amenities you can have. I just saw that put like 100,000 square feet in their pen, in their new development, of amenities and restaurants and wellness center. And so I think these are the things that you want to see as a tenant and also as an employer, because at the end of the day, it’s all about talent retention. So guess what? If I’m in an office space that provides all of these amenities and I manage to bring my people out of their houses four days a week, instead of three days a week, like the average is, or 2 1/2 days a week, and they’re in the office one more day because they chose to be in the office one more day, and they’re thinking twice about leaving this company and going to another because the location is not convenient, it helps talent retention in the biggest possible way. And that’s part of why I think you see some companies buying their own office buildings. I also think there is a situation where you mentioned the ecosystem, I do think that you want to be in locations that have green spaces and locations that have outdoor amenities, locations that are convenient so the work life environment becomes a lot more interesting. And I think that landlords today have to pay attention to that. It becomes more expensive to build or to do the tenant improvements and it becomes more expensive to retain the right tenants, but the right buildings will benefit because there are not enough of ’em, if that makes sense.

DA: Yeah, for sure. And you mentioned attracting and retaining talent. You know, our view, and I’m just curious about your thoughts, is that building owners, operators, the building occupant, they need to be collaborating more in this effort. That it’s not just up to the occupier. It’s not, you know, just up to the building. That there’s an opportunity to really come together and do some creative things to help, you know, make the physical workspace a destination of choice, and not a mandate. Not somewhere where we’re telling you you have to be, but actually somewhere where you want to be. What are you seeing, you know, in terms of, you know, the building operators and occupiers coming together? Are you seeing any collaboration? Are you seeing any conversations happening from the perspective that you have of the space?

SS: I think that what would be interesting to see is whether, you know, you can have like a, some kind of an office board, little like a cop-op board exists, right, with tenants that sit on that board together with the landlord and figuring out things that can improve in the building. I think that would be a great thing for Hilo, for example, to lead in some of the buildings you’re managing. But, you know, really understand, just have a conversation about, “Hey, what can we do in this building? We have two floors that are empty. What can we do with ’em for you? We’re not going to rent ’em out. We want you to stay here as a tenant. What kind of amenities you need? What do you think will keep you here? You have your lease coming up in three years. What do you think will keep you here another five or 10 years if we did A, B, and C?” And so these are the conversations that, if I’m an office landlord with millions of square feet, these are the conversations I want to have with my biggest tenants. And I don’t know if they happen or not. I assume they do. I hope they do. But that’s really, really, these conversations are. It could be different now because, like you said, landlords need to have the understanding of what the tenants want. And the employers, in a way, need to understand what their employees want today. So there’s conversation that needs to go up and down the chain in order to have that going in the best possible way, if that makes sense.

DA: It does. And I agree that perhaps there’s an opportunity for Hilo to be involved in that. We have done that in the past. Pre-pandemic, we did host tenant experience, workplace engagement workshops with, and we had, at the table tenants, representation from the tenancy, the occupant, as well as the landlords and the building operators, and had a conversation around what that looks like. And I think there’s probably an even greater need to be doing that going forward. There’s so much that we need to understand and appreciate, and not, you know, it’s not one against the other. It really is about coming together and sharing sort of ideas to create the best possible place to work. So I think that makes a ton of sense. I’ll see if we can get on that and make some of that happen again. We think a lot about buildings in terms of their role in neighborhoods and their contribution to community. And we’ve talked to certain, you know, people at different levels of organization where, you know, where we’re really understanding the impact that, you know, COVID has had on, you know, and if you look at New New York specifically, on, you know, local businesses, on neighborhoods. And we’re thinking a lot about how building operators need to be collaborating with local businesses, connecting with BIDs to, you know, create a more supportive relationship to sort of tackle these challenges as we look to reinvigorate, you know, cities and financial cores and downtown cores. What are your thoughts just on the role of building owners and operators on supporting the neighborhoods and communities in which they’re based?

SS: Yeah, I think that landlords have a tremendous role in influencing how the neighborhoods are looking like. And I think you hit on a very interesting point, saying it’s not an adversary relationship, tenant-landlord. And that should be something we, in the city, in New York City, start talking about. This is really, should be a collaborative relationship between landlords and tenants, not just on the commercial side, but also on the residential side, ’cause I think that it’s politicized in a way where landlords and tenants don’t work together because of politics. That we should, as a city, start, you know, start a conversation about how landlords and tenants work together. But back to the ecosystem that you’re describing here, I think that landlords should work with BIDs and everything else that comes with that because they’re part of the fabric of New York City. So, for example, one of the good things that is happening post-pandemic or now is if you and I go to a restaurant for lunch today, it’s packed, which is great. If you go to a coffee shop or a Starbucks in the morning, it’s packed, which is great. So I think all of these things, we need to continue to advocate for it. We need to continue to advocate for services, specific services, again, restaurants and gyms and everything else that comes with it, in our neighborhoods. We, landlords, need to think about the locations, and if the location is missing something, if there’s a vacant store and we’re missing a coffee shop or we’re missing a small lunch place or a deli or something that can service, make sure proactively to look for that kind of tenant. These are the things that I think, you know, you want to do. And again, as I said before, if you have empty space in your building, it could be an opportunity to amenitize the asset in a way that’s conducive and good for your tenants. And I would advise them to talk to Hilo or other people that do what you do, right, to get these ideas and services in the best possible way, in the way of best practices when it comes to the office market. So I want to see more people in the office. I mean, we mandated, not, mandated is not the right word. We ask people to be here three times a week. People are three times a week here. They’re here especially on Tuesdays, because we actually order lunch, so it’s fun. But at the same time, you know, I want to see more people in the office in general. I think that’s good for business culture.

DA: Right. I think there needs to be a little less talk about, you know, the different extremes, you know, never coming back or being mandated to come back, and just more talk about how do we continue to build great companies? And if we focus on building great companies, I believe naturally we’re going to want to be and find opportunities to be together to collaborate. You don’t build a great company in isolation. So I think if we focus more on our objective and less on, you know, where we need to be, I think we would find we’re likely to be together more often than not.

SS: Yeah, I love it. I think building great companies is the right motivation, and that’s going to flow with bringing people back to the office. Not because you want to bring people back to the office, but because they want to be in great companies. I like that.

DA: Right, right. I love what you said, even looking at the B and C building, about taking maybe, you know, 3,000 square feet, 5,000 square feet. And, granted, you know, the old way of thinking is that if you’ve got that space, I got to rent it out. I got to generate that rental income. But to convert that space to something like a lounge or a, you know, a wellness center. You know, there’s so many different options, and then to use that as a way to bring more people into your building. I think that building operators, even the small, you know, local, family-owned, you know, B and C, which, and they could own many of those buildings. And in some cases, they were in proximity, where you could maybe take a floor in one building and then make that amenity space available to two or three or four or five other buildings within their neighborhood or within their portfolio. So I think it’s an opportunity to be more creative and to be able to take chances.

SS: Yeah, I completely agree with you. I think these are great ideas. And it also tells us that we’re seeing a fascinating market when it comes to the office market. It’s in transition, probably will be in transition for a little while, but all of these ideas will come to fruition. And we’ll come out of it seeing, you know, something completely new in the way we look at office space, which I think is interesting. And you see the, again, and we’re trying to see who’s investing in it, we’re trying to understand who, what the investors want in it. And that goes back to looking at what buildings were held onto, what buildings are reinvested in and so on. And it’s fascinating to see.

DA: Yeah, I would think that each and every day for you is new and exciting and, well, you’ve been in the business a long time. I would think there’s lots of twists and turns, and still more to come.

SS: Absolutely, and that’s what’s fun about real estate.

DA: Exactly. Let’s take a short commercial break, and we’ll be right back.


DA: And now I’d like to welcome back to the show Shimon Shkury, president and founder, Ariel Property Advisors. Once again, I am really glad that you could be with us today.

SS: Thank you so much, David. Excited to be here.

DA: All right. As I mentioned earlier, I mean, obviously, as a technology company, we think a lot about how technology is shaping the future of how building operators deliver great experience, both office and multifamily, to their tenants and their residents. We think that from a office perspective, workplace engagement is uppermost in everyone’s mind. And on the multifamily side, we’re now dealing with a situation where, in some cases, you know, people are in their buildings all day long. And so even the nature of that part of the industry has changed dramatically. So with a focus on sort of continuing to evolve, for commercial real estate to continue to evolve to meet the needs of people in buildings, are you seeing any technologies in particular that are helping to impact the business or any sort of areas of customer experience, customer service that are gaining traction and helping to contribute to a better experience in buildings, and perhaps motivating things on the buy/sell front?

SS: Yeah, I think that there are a lot of, in general, new technologies that affect your day-to-day, without even noticing it. I mean, in the past, we didn’t even have the ability to scan a card or to go into an elevator without pushing a button or a specific button or anything like that. From an office perspective, everything in our system is electronically done, through our phones and apps and so on, including my apartment building, my co-op. It’s all through the phone and apps and so on. So these are the things that make your life a lot easier. And I think that we’ll see them as we move along. I mean, we’re not necessarily going to notice all of these different things, day one, but one day, we’re going to wake up, in three or four or five years and see that everything moved to the web or moved from, you know, into an application or something along these lines. So I think that technology has a tremendous amount of efficiency to contribute to office buildings. I can tell you that from our business, that’s a services business and that’s a database business, we’ve moved online from day one. We actually use a CRM and we sit there and all we do is, through that CRM, we communicate through that CRM. We talk to, we have an offshore business, meaning a support business that’s ours, not necessarily in New York City, and we communicate through the CRM, through computers, through our applications regularly. So when, for us, and we were lucky, but when COVID hit, we didn’t have to do much. We did this, and everything was back to being on a computer versus on face-to-face. Clearly, there’s no alternative to human interaction, but when it comes to communicating, we were right there. So I think communication is one of the biggest things that you’ll see coming out of, you know, out of this moving forward. Even if it’s showing an apartment today, you can have the technology to do it without a person, online, which is pretty incredible. So I think communication in general is becoming a lot more efficient and effective and quick, if that makes sense.

DA: Yep. No, for sure. Communication is obviously a big part of our system, of our platform as well, being able to facilitate that connection. And particularly in a world now where people are working or can be anywhere, how do we stay connected with them even when they’re not in your building? I’m just curious, again, from your lens, on the buy/sell side, when you’re preparing, perhaps, a property for market or you’re representing a potential buyer, to what extent is the consideration of what technology is available in the building, or for the buyer, looking at what technology exists in the building, is that part of the conversation today? And is it different than perhaps it was, you know, five or 10 years ago?

SS: Yeah, so it’s definitely a part of the conversation, but in a way that explains how you can make money or save money.

DA: Okay.

SS: So that’s really the key. The key is to show how the asset looks from a financial perspective. If we have certain technology that can enhance that, how does that contribute to your bottom line? So I think that you always want to connect the technology to what it creates and what it does for the building so it’s not a technology for the sake of technology. So our books are going to be focused on that. They’re going to be focused on the bullet points that add, implicitly or explicitly, to the value of the asset. Could be location, it could be transportation, it could be technology, but it’s always going to contribute to the value of the asset in a way. So if that makes sense.

DA: That makes a ton of sense. That’s a great insight. You know, we’ve always had the position that we want to be a must-have, not a nice to have. And I just love that you sort of highlighted that it’s got to contribute to the bottom line and drive some degree of value, so makes total sense. Shimon, thank you so much for sharing all of your insights. And we always like to close with a speed round to sort of provide an opportunity to get to know you a little bit better on more of a personal level. So just curious, when you’re not at work, and clearly that’s a passion of yours, what are you doing? What keeps you busy?

SS: I do a few things. I spend a lot of time with family, my wife. I swim, I ski and I motorcycle.

DA: Oh, wow. Okay. Well, do that safely, please.

SS: Very safely.

DA: What is your beverage or drink of choice?

SS: Coffee.

DA: How many? How many?

SS: A lot.

DA: A lot.

SS: Like five, six, seven a day, but a lot of them are decaf.

DA: Okay. All right. Your favorite movie or current TV series that you’re watching?

SS: My favorite movie of all times is “Forrest Gump.” I just love the concept and everything about it. My wife loves “Ted Lasso,” and I watched it with her. I thought it was great, but she really loves it, so.

DA: Yeah, we just finished the “Ted Lasso” series as well.

SS: You got it.

DA: It was awesome. And good choices. Name one way in which technology has improved how you live or work.

SS: Ooh, everything. I mean, think about Amazon. I mean, it’s like, I don’t need to go to the supermarket anymore, you know? It’s like that alone. It’s a little thing. But the truth of the matter, the biggest thing for me is Salesforce because we’re operating on Salesforce from day one, and it’s been an amazing journey. And, again, a lot of credit to Ivan, who’s one of my partners, to, you know, that put that behind us. But it’s an amazing revelation. Anybody in the services industry, in our business, that doesn’t use, that needs a CRM, doesn’t use it, highly recommended, highly recommended. Invest the time and money in it.

DA: Well, first of all, CRM is a great technology to use, and Salesforce is a great company, so you’ve made a good choice there. What is your personal choice, for days spent in person, working with colleagues, versus working from anywhere?

SS: A day spent working with colleagues here in the office. I’m not going to replace that with anything else. I mean, for me, it’s going to be being here in the morning, going to lunch with some colleagues and some clients, and going for a drink afterwards. So it’s just being in New York City.

DA: Well, first of all, you spoke earlier about New York, and New York City is, in my opinion, one of the greatest cities in North America, perhaps the world. And I agree with you, the energy and excitement about being in that city, and the opportunity to collaborate and meet and do great things. I love it, and I can’t wait to be back. You can touch it, you can feel it, and it’s an amazing place to be. So New York is an important market for us. We’re spending a lot of time there. I hope that my next visit, we can connect. I’d love to meet in person.

SS: Look forward to it, 

DA: And look at, try to identify any opportunity for collaboration. So, Shimon, thank you so much for joining us today.

SS: Thank you so much, David.

DA: It’s been my pleasure. A great conversation. Wishing you continued success, you and all of your partners, and we will definitely connect when I’m next in the city.

SS: Appreciate it. Thank you so much, David.

DA: All right, take care now. I want to thank Shimon Shkury for joining me on this episode of TEN and for contributing to the global conversation around buildings being part of a robust ecosystem, helping to build great companies, and that they are vital in the effort to cultivate and support great people and teams. The future of the workplace will likely take many forms, and we’ll continue to explore what that looks like together. Subscribe to TEN for more conversations with leading CRE industry professionals and experts, who all have something to say about tenant experience and the future of the workplace. We love hearing from you, so if you enjoyed this episode of TEN, please share, add your rating and review us through your preferred podcast provider. 

If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on a future episode, please reach out to me directly at And until our next episode, I wish you all continued success in building community where you work and live. Thank you.

Ryan Speers | Partner & COO | Workhaus | The future of work is flexible

Season 5 / Episode 7 / 41:20
In this episode, we learn that Ryan’s business is at the forefront of the hospitality and customer experience conversations that are happening as CRE continues to up its game on this front by offering essential amenities to help drive user engagement and enjoyment. Tune in to learn more about Ryan’s perspective on Workhaus being a tech-enabled business versus a technology business.

Lisa Davidson | Vice Chairman | Savills North America | An inspiring journey from Tenant Rep to Proptech investor

Season 5 / Episode 5 / 46:17
In this episode, Lisa sheds light on key market drivers influencing real estate decisions, such as the rise of amenities and spec suites. She describes the future of work as “accommodating employees with great space.” The impact that unique community spaces have on potential tenants as they are touring prospective spaces is something else she sees in the market.

Ryan Speers | Partner & COO | Workhaus | The future of work is flexible

Season 5 / Episode 7 / 41:20
In this episode, we learn that Ryan’s business is at the forefront of the hospitality and customer experience conversations that are happening as CRE continues to up its game on this front by offering essential amenities to help drive user engagement and enjoyment. Tune in to learn more about Ryan’s perspective on Workhaus being a tech-enabled business versus a technology business.

Lisa Davidson | Vice Chairman | Savills North America | An inspiring journey from Tenant Rep to Proptech investor

Season 5 / Episode 5 / 46:17
In this episode, Lisa sheds light on key market drivers influencing real estate decisions, such as the rise of amenities and spec suites. She describes the future of work as “accommodating employees with great space.” The impact that unique community spaces have on potential tenants as they are touring prospective spaces is something else she sees in the market.