UNIBusiness alumni return home to continue careers in real estate
Ryan Cahalan (Finance, ’99) has always considered Iowa his home. That was true even as he worked almost 20 years of his real estate career outside of the state. He returned to Iowa just a few years ago, and is now working to grow his own business, Artisan Capital Group in Des Moines, of which he is a co-founder and partner.
“It’s important for me to be closer to family and friends, and I see the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned to building an Iowa-based business,” Cahalan said. “After spending much of my career traveling the country and doing deals nationally, I’ve learned to identify good investment markets, and I see a ton of opportunity in Iowa.”
Cahalan was driven to real estate by a couple of factors. The first being his uncle, who worked in the business and showed Cahalan different projects and the process of buildings being constructed. While at UNIBusiness, Cahalan majored in finance. But he landed an eight-month internship with Aegon USA, which opened the door to commercial real estate investment and solidified his desire to pursue it as a career.
UNIBusiness taught Cahalan the “nuts and bolts” of finance, as he puts it, helping create a foundation for a long career in commercial real estate.
“With a solid fundamental understanding of this business concept I was able to hit the ground running as a financial analyst at my first job out of college and advance quickly up the ranks based on performance,” Cahalan said. “In addition to the knowledge gained at UNI, I also learned how to be disciplined and to treat people right.”
Like Cahalan, Lynn Ambrosy’s (Finance, ’96) foundation in real estate comes from UNIBusiness. He majored in finance but worked internships with both Aegon USA Realty Advisors and Principal Financial Group. He liked finance, but also enjoyed analyzing and understanding real estate projects.
His career took him to Illinois and Colorado, but his drive to return to Iowa was always there. In 2010, he came back, taking a position with Aegon in Cedar Rapids.
“My position was very similar to what I could have been offered in a number of major cities, but having the ability to work and live in a smaller Iowa community was the perfect fit for my family,” Ambrosy said.
Ambrosy has worked on many different types of real estate transactions in his career, ranging from both borrowing and lending on the debt side, to his current responsibility as the portfolio manager and co-lead of the affordable housing equity business at Aegon Real Assets.
He credits the UNIBusiness curriculum, which was very practical and connected with his long-term career ambitions. And through alumni involvement and Dr. Art Cox’s focus on internships and networking, Ambrosy has been able to grow his network throughout the country.
“I’m grateful for my prior experiences, but it is even more gratifying to have a career in Iowa where I can still travel the country and meet with developers, owners, brokers and other industry contacts in their respective markets,” Ambrosy said. “I think that I get the best of both worlds, enjoying the many great things that Iowa has to offer while also maintaining and growing my professional network across the country.”