Cyril Straughn-Turner (MBA 2022) sat in his office with a view of the Dallas skyline behind him and a smile on his face that conveyed something very clear – he loves his job.

Landing that seat in the Invesco US office was an exercise in dedication, continuing education, networking, and pitching his skills – and all the hard work has paid off. Former management consultant Straughn-Turner is excited to be starting the next chapter of his career contributing to the development of the American South. At the same time, Invesco US has been eager to invest in Straughn-Turner’s development as an emerging real estate leader who possesses valuable transferable skills that contribute to their organization.

“A Southerner, Through and Through”

Straughn-Turner was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and is a self-proclaimed “Southerner, through and through.” College took him away from the South for a number of years, studying engineering and international relations at Stanford University and beginning his career in the San Francisco Bay Area office of Oliver Wyman after graduation. However, when an opportunity arose to transfer to the Dallas/Fort Worth office and continue his career in management consulting while living in the South, Straughn-Turner was all in.

Not only was it a welcome move geographically, Straughn-Turner found that he was also fascinated by the transportation, hospitality, and services focus within the Dallas office. “My Dad worked for Delta for a number of years and growing up in Atlanta, Delta was like a second home,” he shared. “I was also a big train geek as a kid, so I’ve always loved transportation, and I found there was a lot happening in terms of the future of mobility and the customer experience in that space.”

Over three years in consulting, Straughn-Turner learned a great deal, and was eager to continue his education. Applying to business school felt like the natural next step for this lifelong learner, and an ideal way to pivot into another industry he was drawn to – real estate.

Immersing Himself in the Real Estate Ecosystem

Real estate was appealing to Straughn-Turner because he had seen development of the South over his lifetime and wanted to be a part of it. “As a young professional, I want to help continue to define this region, with a specific focus on underserved communities,” he said. “How can we create more inclusive, sustainable communities without perpetuating gentrification?”

With this in mind, Straughn-Turner set about exploring his interest in real estate alongside a dedicated cohort of classmates with similar goals. He joined the Real Estate Club and took an online real estate training created by a fellow student, Aaron Hancock (MBA 2021). Straughn-Turner also worked closely with HBS Career Coach and Corporate Relations Director, Jonathan Shepherd, to access the resources, support, and education he needed.

In addition, the Harvard Alumni Real Estate Board was instrumental to Straughn-Turner’s experience and internship search. “The real estate professionals in this group dedicate their time to supporting current students,” he said. “They also were very helpful in introducing me to other people in the industry – talking with people is the nature of the real estate game.”

As he had these conversations, Straughn-Turner was aware he was making a significant pivot from consulting to real estate and would need to actively pitch himself to recruiters. He learned what skills were valuable in real estate and became practiced in highlighting the transferable skills from his background that were most relevant. “I spoke about my ability to do research and analysis, communication skills (verbal and written), and experience working with senior leaders,” he shared. “Working on a lot of different projects in consulting and working on a lot of deals in real estate investing, there are many similarities.”

The Impact of Exposure

Ultimately, it was a connection through a HBS classmate that led to talks with Invesco US about their real estate investing internship program. Invesco US saw Straughn-Turner’s passion for the industry, appreciated the analytical experience he brought to the role, and ultimately offered him his dream summer internship.

In his day-to-day work at Invesco US, Straughn-Turner is working on a number of real estate deals each day and has seen close to two dozen over the course of his internship so far. He is supporting the underwriters, filling in the research gaps, speaking with brokers, and analyzing investment opportunities on behalf of clients.

In addition to the variety of deals he has been able to work on, Straughn-Turner has appreciated the opportunity to get exposure across Invesco US. “They have done a great job allowing us to get involved in asset management so once we actually have the property, how do we achieve what we outlined in our busines plan and make it successful?” he said. “Doing property tours and talking with portfolio managers and senior leaders, you get a good sense of what the real estate investing ecosystem looks like.”

Straughn-Turner has also been able to combine his interests in real estate and social impact at Invesco. Invesco works closely with TREC, the Texas Real Estate Commission, in contributing to projects in the community for underserved parts of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, including a food kitchen built last year. In addition, Straughn-Turner is engaging with senior leaders within Invesco about opportunities to make Dallas more inclusive. After graduation, he looks forward to coming back to Texas and contributing to this important work.

Bringing Career Switchers to Your Organization

Straughn-Turner’s story is unique in many ways, as are each of the 1,000 first year students seeking internship opportunities. However, Straughn-Turner also has something in common with the majority of his classmates: he’s a career switcher eager to bring his skills and experience into a new industry.

Like Invesco US, your organization can benefit from career switcher talent from HBS, and there are key elements that will make you successful in your efforts.

  1. Welcome conversations with candidates who have a variety of professional backgrounds. Straughn-Turner found that real estate professionals were excited to get on the phone with him and talk about their industry. Then he was able to share with them how he has gone about building his real estate knowledge and how he planned to apply his consulting background. Opening up your process, from company conversations to interviews, to candidates with varied backgrounds can bring in exceptional candidates.

  2. Create an environment that welcomes questions. “Even when there is a lot going on, like there is currently in the real estate market in Dallas, my colleagues at Invesco US have taken the time to teach us and serve as resources,” Straughn-Turner shared. “This has been great because asking questions and learning as you go is the best way to get experience in a short amount of time.” Structuring your internship program with an open door policy is a win-win for employers and students.

  3. Expose your interns to the full business cycle. For Straughn-Turner at Invesco US, property tours and walking around Dallas to understand the market have been pivotal learning experiences. “We went with asset managers to tour properties where we could hear more about the intricacies of the process. That exposure has been invaluable,” he said. Finding ways to help your career switching interns learn different sides of the business boosts their professional development and increases the impact they can make for your team.

Ready to start finding interns who will make a difference at your organization? Find talent via our recruiting platform or contact our office to speak with your industry specific recruiting team.