W. P. Carey alum Austin Gottsacker.

Being a Sun Devil means making a positive impact

Alum Austin Gottsacker (BS Finance '17) finds fulfillment in the real estate industry and through philanthropic work.

Molly Loonam

After earning his real estate license as a high school senior, Austin Gottsacker (BS Finance '17) sold his first two houses the summer between high school graduation and his first year at ASU.

"I had a lucky start," says Gottsacker. "It gave me some validation, and I kept my eyes on a career in real estate while attending W. P. Carey."

Today, Gottsacker is a director of acquisitions and leasing at SimonCRE, a national commercial real estate acquisition and development company based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Gottsacker collaborates with stakeholders to identify new real estate opportunities and manages a team that handles due diligence, site investigation, underwriting, and site planning.

"I love that every day is different in the commercial real estate development world. The challenge of solving complicated problems with lots of moving parts is rewarding," says Gottsacker. "We devote a huge part of our lives to our careers, so taking on fulfilling projects and working with people I admire is extremely important."

W. P. Carey news caught up with Gottsacker to ask how his Sun Devil experience shaped his professional and personal journeys after graduation.

Question: How has W. P. Carey influenced your career?

Answer: I wanted to pursue a career in real estate in some capacity, and I investigated programs that could expose me to the industry and connect me with industry professionals. W. P. Carey offered several opportunities that all fit my needs. I got involved in the real estate club, the Investment Banking Industry Scholars program, and minored in real estate.

I heard about an internship program at SimonCRE through friends at W. P. Carey. I interviewed and got a position working in acquisitions with employees who were ASU graduates. Following my internship, I accepted a full-time position at SimonCRE. Without the experiences or relationships I got from my time at W. P. Carey, I would be in a different spot today.

Q: Why do you feel it's important for students to pursue learning opportunities, like clubs and internships, outside of the classroom?

A: I was surprised by how much of life outside the classroom is a game of critical thinking and problem-solving, and flexing those muscles a bit before graduating gave me a huge advantage. The other benefit is starting to build a network. It might be cheesy, but there's a lot of merit to the phrase, "It's not what you know, but who you know."

Q: What career advice do you have for future W. P. Carey graduates and fellow alums?

A: Build strong relationships with the people you admire and respect, think long-term, and be prepared for delayed gratification.

Q: What class do you wish you would have taken as a student?

A: If I could do it again, I would take more accounting classes. Accounting is the language of business, and it's hard to get useful, on-the-job accounting training when it's not part of your direct role.

Q: Do you have any insights from your industry to share with fellow alums?

A: Find ways to help without expecting something in return. I'm lucky to be a member of The Saguaros, a local philanthropic and social club that donated $1.7 million to Phoenix children's charities this year. Playing a small role in that has been an extremely rewarding experience.

Getting involved in a philanthropic club taught me that all businesses and organizations are groups working together to solve problems. Putting your ego aside, rolling up your sleeves, and finding creative ways to solve tough problems will benefit several areas of your life. So much of my personal growth over the past few years has been because of a change in mindset: Give with no expectation of getting something in return.

Q: Is there an ASU alum or professional mentor who has affected your professional journey?

A: Joshua Simon, founder and CEO of SimonCRE, took a chance and hired me full-time during my junior year at ASU. Most of what I've been lucky enough to learn over the past several years has been thanks to Joshua and the rest of the SimonCRE team.

Q: What does being a Sun Devil mean to you?

A: Being a Sun Devil means embracing change and making a positive impact in our communities. I joined The Saguaros to keep that sense of community involvement and make an impact for those of us who can use some help. We should all try our best to continue living those values, even after graduation.

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