MRED alum Murphy Cheatham pushes for more diverse, socially minded real estate industry
The Master of Real Estate Development program at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business aims to develop professionals focused on environmentally respectful and socially responsible real estate projects. Alumnus Murphy Cheatham embodies these ideals in his current role as Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Program Manager at CBRE.
The Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) program at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business aims to develop professionals focused on environmentally respectful and socially responsible real estate projects. Alumnus Murphy Cheatham (MRED ’07) embodies these ideals in his current role as Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Program Manager at CBRE in Dallas, Texas.
“My focus is coaching diverse commercial real estate producers to establish a foothold in the business and eventually market leadership,” he says. “My inspiration is my own experience in the industry, and how I did not have a mentor from my background.”
We spoke with Cheatham about his MRED experience, how the program has supported his career, and what he’d like to see happen next in real estate.
Why W. P. Carey?
Cheatham was part of the inaugural MRED class in 2006. His interest in the real estate industry led him to the program at W. P. Carey over other options he was contemplating.
“I was considering pursuing an international MBA, as well as a separate job offer in Costa Rica,” he says. “I decided to pursue the MRED degree largely because of the subject matter and the ASU network.”
His previous background was in accounting, so being in the MRED program with his classmates and learning from the highly experienced faculty helped him become more familiar with the industry.
“I was relatively new to the various disciplines within real estate development,” he says. “Both faculty and classmate connections helped me develop my working knowledge of the various disciplines to be able to provide value to the industry.”
The interdisciplinary approach of the MRED degree program — which brings together experts from four leading colleges within ASU — helps students learn about the various aspects that fit within the real estate industry. Cheatham draws on that approach often in his work.
Why real estate?
Cheatham got his first taste of the real estate world as an accountant for a home builder. This piqued his interest in the industry and led him to his ASU master’s degree.
Since graduating from the W. P. Carey MRED program, he has held many positions within the industry. “My journey to this point started as an accountant for a home builder, then sales, planning, community development, consulting, commercial real estate brokerage, and now producer coaching,” he says.
Throughout his journey, Cheatham’s passion and conviction for real estate has remained constant. “Real estate is a product of the needs of society's use of space and provides inspiration for the future.”
He encourages anyone who is considering a career change like him to go for it, calling ASU’s MRED degree “a worthy lifestyle change.” Once in the program, he advises students to always be fostering relationships with others, in addition to all the necessary coursework.
In his current position with CBRE, Cheatham is at the forefront of the real estate industry’s initiative to be more ethical and socially conscious with projects and decision making. He states that his organization has a goal to be “the world’s leader” within this space.
Cheatham has also partnered with ASU and his other alma mater, the HBCU Grambling State University, to create a real estate education partnership that helps students at the school get involved in the industry early on.
When asked about what he wants for the future of real estate, he says he’d like to continue to see diversity improve, whether in ownership, development, or brokerage in all areas of the industry.
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