RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer and actively participating in the overall management of Aztec Shops, the Director of Real Estate & Business Development is primarily responsible for actively purchasing and developing multi-unit residential properties that boost the Aztec Shops portfolio and leasing retail space in existing and new properties. Leading a dynamic, forward-thinking division comprised of the real estate portfolio, conference services, and the facilities department, the Director administers all hiring, training, work assignment, and evaluation of four direct reports and an overall staff of 15 full-time employees. The Director effectively administers the division’s strategic planning process and all facets of budgeting and forecasting, including profit & loss (P&L) responsibility for residential and commercial real estate assets valued at over $200 million with more than $20 million in annual revenue.
As an active member of the San Diego State University (SDSU) community and supporter of its shared governance principles, the Director identifies, acquires, and obtains financing for new properties and leases, oversees the design, construction, and financing of new buildings and infrastructure, negotiates and supervises property management contracts, and develops and implements long-range capital improvements for Aztec Shops-owned properties. Additionally, the Director explores and evaluates new retail business opportunities in existing and planned retail developments and manages campus vending contracts and agreements for other non-traditional vendors.
- Manages profit and loss (P&L) for residential and commercial real estate assets valued at over $200 million, with annual revenue of more than $20 million
- Administers the acquisition, financing, and integration of additional purchases and leases into the real estate portfolio
- Oversees the design and construction of buildings and infrastructure
- Negotiates and supervises property management contracts for Aztec Shops-owned properties
- Negotiates other contracts with vendors, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers
- Develops and implements innovative programs to maximize occupancy of Aztec Shops-owned properties, including properties contracted with the SDSU Office of Housing Administration
- Represents Aztec Shops on the campus Housing Coordination Committee
- Develops and implements long-range capital improvement plans for Aztec Shops-owned properties and other assets
- Explores and evaluates new retail business opportunities in existing and planned retail developments on SDSU’s main campus, Imperial Valley, and Snapdragon Stadium’s Mission Valley campus, ensuring high occupancy rates for all ventures
- Manages campus vending contracts and agreements for other non-traditional vendors
Conference Services and Facilities Departments
- Maintains P&L responsibility for the Conference Services function, with annual revenue of more than $4 million
- Supervises staff with the strategic initiative to grow Conference Services revenue, coordinating efforts with numerous campus entities
- Oversees Facilities Department, supervising construction and facilities functions for all businesses and locations owned and operated by Aztec Shops
- Leads and executes new initiatives and business opportunities through methodical strategic planning processes
- Develops annual operating and capital budgets and goals for the division
- Reviews monthly operating results and makes necessary corrections
- Actively participates in the overall management of Aztec Shops
- Advances the interest of the company through being an active member of the SDSU community and related industry associations or organizations
- Supports and remains active in SDSU’s shared governance
- Manages professional staff of approximately 15 across all areas, including conducting interviews, hiring, training, and assigning and directing work for full-time employees
- Mentors, guides, and provides career progression support for division employees
- Utilizes exceptional and effective communication and organizational skills in all aspects of the position
- Communicates a compelling and inspired vision and sense of core purpose for Aztec Shops, creating mileposts and symbols to rally support behind the organizational vision
- Assists and is actively engaged with legal and insurance matters
- Develops and maintains working relationships with customers, coworkers, vendors, student organizations, faculty, staff, and university personnel
- Ensures compliance with all local, state, and federal health, safety, and employment laws and regulations
- Supports and improves employee relations through transparency, strong communication, feedback, and teamwork
- Supports and leads the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion plan
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE
Requirements include a bachelor’s degree and at least ten years of related experience in the management of real estate and contracts, or an equivalent combination of education, training, and experience. Other requirements include computer literacy skills, with specific knowledge of Microsoft Office and Google Workspace products, and strong communications, supervisory, and organizational skills. Innovation, vision, and strategic and critical thinking are keys to success in this role. The successful candidate must comply with all SDSU COVID-19 vaccine policies and procedures.
In addition to the qualifications stated above, key stakeholders identified the following capabilities and attributes of a successful candidate:
- Experience with long-term master planning and project management and an in-depth understanding of real estate management, property development, construction issues, and overall planning for mixed-use commercial and residential holdings
- A solid fiscal, budgetary, and management background, including substantial financial forecasting and resource allocation skills
- A creative and entrepreneurial problem-solver and change agent who can develop new programs to meet 21st-century challenges and seek innovative new sources of revenue
- A strategic and data-informed decision-maker with solid assessment skills who is also able to collect and analyze data and think fast when necessary
- Critical thinking skills, with the ability to process and manage information, multi-task, work effectively with various stakeholders, move individuals to consensus, and follow up systematically with a detail-oriented approach
- Steady and inspirational leadership skills, emotional intelligence, and a strategic vision, with the ability to build coalitions and push an agenda forward
- The ability to make quick and complex decisions when necessary, conduct difficult conversations when pertinent, listen to all sides of an issue, build consensus, and remain “cool under pressure,” no matter the situation
- Excellent communication skills, with the ability to reach each level of the university and surrounding community
- The ability to build collaborative partnerships throughout the SDSU campus and the surrounding community and develop strong working relationships that mutually benefit both
- Demonstrate effective skills in negotiation and diplomacy in interactions with the institution, community partners, vendors, and other clients
- The ability to listen carefully and actively, ask knowledgeable questions, and learn the division’s and institution’s operations and culture
- A commitment to develop, promote, and mentor the team of professionals under their purview, providing ample professional development, fostering positive work/life priorities in themselves and the staff, and effectively motivating and managing the needs of an evolving workforce
- Experience in working with third-party property managers in the oversight of real estate holdings
- Experience in the higher education environment and an understanding of the unique issues associated with a large university
- An outstanding work ethic, with energy and passion for the role
- A commitment to promote and support the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion at all times
- Integrity and high ethical standards
- The ability to review major processes, policies, and procedures to look for efficiencies and opportunities to combine, collaborate, share, develop, or discard antiquated functions and practices
- Organizational development skills, with the ability to determine strengths and effectively delegate human resources
- An understanding of succession planning and its importance in the current and future success of Aztec Shops
- Approachability, relatability, patience, adaptability, authenticity, and transparency
- An understanding of legal and insurance-related issues concerning real property development and management
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
The current Director of Real Estate & Business Development, R.D. Williams, is retiring in December 2023 after serving in the role for over 21 years. Williams was the first to occupy this position, serving as a consultant before joining as a full-time employee. Williams was instrumental in building the division, growing its holdings, and helping the students of San Diego State University at the highly successful level it maintains today. Looking to the future, Aztec Shops, Ltd. has partnered with Spelman Johnson to fill this crucial role.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
The new Director of Real Estate & Business Development must have extensive real estate development and management proficiency, a broad understanding of fiduciary practice and theory, and demonstrate experience in complex budgetary planning and forecasting. The Director should be a dynamic and respected leader who has had success building and advancing a progressive program at another institution or organization, is capable of managing multiple priorities and departments, and is equipped to contribute at both a strategic and operational level to the vibrant, student-centered environment at San Diego State University through Aztec Shops.
It is essential to identify a competent and visionary individual who can promote and mentor the staff, set and implement strategic budgetary priorities, implement best practices throughout the department, and work in tandem with the CEO, leadership team, other members of the Aztec Shops operation, and the SDSU partners to progressively, innovatively, and comprehensively move the entire operation forward.
The following were identified as additional opportunities and challenges facing the Director upon arrival.
- Working with other Aztec Shops leadership team members, the Director of Real Estate & Business Development will advise CEO Todd Summer on the growth, development, management, and operation of their portfolio’s substantial real estate holdings. The Director should formulate a new strategic plan to look to the future within a short time after their arrival. This individual will have ample opportunities to utilize their experience and knowledge to put their professional mark on Aztec Shops and SDSU and make a lasting positive impact.
- The scope of responsibilities for this role is broad and highly impactful, overseeing the extensive real estate portfolio, conference services, and facilities services. The Director must quickly become familiar with all areas under their purview to develop a comprehensive list of priorities. Because of the role’s size and scope, the Director will need to prioritize a great deal of time learning the intricacies and nuances of their portfolio and understanding the culture and environment in which they are living and working. From the beginning of their tenure with Aztec Shops, the Director must work diligently to discover the internal needs of the staff and the departments and establish themselves as the overall “face” of Real Estate & Business Development. A swift pace can be expected, with many entities simultaneously wanting this person’s attention. The Director must always be an effective multitasker and a savvy diplomat.
- Aztec Shops is committed to building strong, healthy, and mutually supportive relationships as a foundation of its support for and connection to San Diego State University. Collaboration in all instances is necessary to ensure the Director’s success. It will be crucial that the successful candidate quickly reach out internally and across campus to begin building solid and mutually beneficial partnerships that foster ongoing positive interactions. These connections are essential to assess the current environment and its needs, provide exceptional programs and services for the benefit of the students and the university, and ensure that the various units within Real Estate & Business Development are each seen as good partners with whom they can effectively work. Upon arrival, the new Director should conduct listening tours with internal Aztec Shops departments and units, university leaders and departments, the surrounding community, established vendors, property management partners, and others to build connections with and between these stakeholders, understand their needs, and establish a baseline for strategic and operational plans in the future.
- The Mission Valley project, which began with the construction of the new Snapdragon Stadium (now complete), will have implications for years to come concerning the growth and development of Aztec Shops’ holdings and offerings to SDSU. Upcoming developments in this project include a 100,000-square-foot commercial property (primarily restaurant and market space) and its lease, occupancy, and management. The Director will immediately begin with a focus on this exciting opportunity, and as other properties become available in this and other areas around the SDSU campus, they must work diligently to effectively acquire and develop new holdings and seek innovative opportunities that will make a lasting positive impact on the student experience. While many of the current real estate holdings of Aztec Shops are student housing properties, there is an expectation for future expansion and diversification of the portfolio.
- Upon arrival, the incoming Director of Real Estate & Business Development will see that the department is in excellent working order, functioning effectively and consistently. This role should not be viewed as a “fix-it” opportunity but as an immediate opportunity to begin working with the staff to continue building on the positive and productive environment within Aztec Shops.
- With this productivity, the ability to grow, develop, and mentor a dynamic professional staff while building a cohesive and dedicated team will be an additional positive element to the role. To succeed in this area, the new Director must be a strong motivator with high-level supervisory, organizational, and staff-development skills, along with the willingness and ability to empower the staff to conduct their jobs. Support for the staff is critical, and professional development at all levels is expected. Navigating the current team’s needs, meeting with each unit individually, getting to know the people who comprise each unit, and spending quality time in each area will be beneficial and invigorating.
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to the SDSU community and Aztec Shops, and the Director must support, understand, embrace, and nurture these concepts through their leadership of the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion plan. There are many underrepresented populations at San Diego State University, and all units within Real Estate & Business Affairs need to be models for maintaining a strong sense of equity and an unbiased environment. The new Director should quickly become familiar with the campus climate and proactively participate in campus initiatives for engaging in conversation and action around diversity, equity, and inclusion in all facets of the role.
- The Director must remain highly visible and engaged with the SDSU community while working with the Aztec Shops team to promote unity, camaraderie, and partnership within the division. The Director should prioritize getting out of the office and being seen, attending university events, participating in the SDSU shared governance, collaborating across the university, and spending quality time within the campus and external community. To accomplish this, the Director should have excellent communication and organizational skills and be able to articulate the “story” of Aztec Shops across the university.
- Innovation is a focal point for continually improving Aztec Shops and its deliverables to SDSU. There will be great support for implementing new ideas, cutting-edge technology, and national best practices in all Real Estate & Business Development areas. The Director should seek out successful business practices at other institutions and external entities, determine available professional benchmarking opportunities, and be involved in national or regional associations to remain current on trends in real estate, property management, and overall business/finance-related fields.
- Among its many accolades, San Diego has been named “America’s Finest City,” and stakeholders agree that the San Diego area has something for people from all walks of life. There is a temperate climate, professional sports, plentiful restaurants, and a myriad of cultural opportunities—San Diego is truly a destination city. With Los Angeles only a two-hour drive up the coast, San Diego is a major metropolitan area and a transportation hub where opportunities abound for everyone. Aztec Shops, SDSU, and the city of San Diego have a positive and synergistic relationship, generating many opportunities for town and gown involvement. Stakeholders in this search are also adamant about how much they enjoy working for Aztec Shops, appreciate the spirit of collegiality throughout the division, and value the support extended and received from each other, particularly in times of need.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
The items listed below will define the new Director’s success throughout the first year of employment:
- A clear and transparent strategic plan is being developed, including straightforward objectives and measurable outcomes that are assessed effectively and efficiently and identify areas of growth, profitability, and additional revenue opportunities; adjustments are regularly made based on these assessments, and robust feedback is solicited and utilized to shape the process in the future.
- The Mission Valley project is effectively moving forward, with tenants and contracts identified and progressive plans in place (or in progress) for the future.
- The Director consistently seeks and acquires new real estate holdings for the portfolio.
- The Real Estate & Business Development staff is working together cohesively as a team, the Director is consistently available and willing to actively listen to and work alongside staff, trust has been developed between the Director and the various individuals and units in the portfolio, and professional development opportunities are available to all.
- Budget projections have been successfully achieved, and the divisional finances are healthy.
- Having invested deeply in the SDSU and local communities, the Director has established solid relationships, is recognized as a trusted partner, knows the brokers, vendors, and contractors with whom they interact regularly, and has become involved in local economic development or other community relations activities.
OVERVIEW OF THE AZTEC SHOPS
Aztec Shops, Ltd., founded in 1931, is a non-profit corporation that functions primarily as an auxiliary of San Diego State University. As a self-sustaining non-profit SDSU auxiliary, Aztec Shops operates without university or state subsidy. The corporation manages a diverse portfolio of services, including the operation of the SDSU bookstore, SDSU dining, SDSU conference services, SDSU licensing, and commercial and residential real estate properties surrounding the campus.
In partnership with the SDSU Division of Business and Financial Affairs, Aztec Shops manages a portfolio of properties supporting the campus strategic plan. These commercial and real estate entities include:
- University Towers Residence Hall
- Albert’s College Apartments
- Fraternity Row Apartments
- Piedra del Sol Apartments
- Sanctuary Suites
- College Square
Aztec Shops Leadership
Todd Summer, Chief Executive Officer of Aztec Shops and Associate Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs
Todd Summer was appointed CEO of Aztec Shops and Associate Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs on January 1, 2017.
Summer joined Aztec Shops in June 2004 as Associate Director of Course Materials and moved into the position of Director of Campus Stores in November 2007. At Aztec Shops, Summer and his team led the college store industry with the early introduction of print rental and digital textbook programs. He also oversaw the SDSU licensing program.
Adela de la Torre, San Diego State University President
Dr. Adela de la Torre is the first woman and first Latina to serve as a permanently appointed President of San Diego State University. President de la Torre joined SDSU in June 2018 after a distinguished career within the California State University system, the University of Arizona, and the University of California, Davis.
Since arriving at SDSU, President de la Torre has focused on significantly expanding the campus through SDSU Mission Valley, growing the university’s research enterprise, expanding SDSU and SDSU Imperial Valley degree access, and launching the university’s new five-year strategic plan.
For information on human resources at Aztec Shops, see here.
Review of applications will begin October 13, 2023, and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to J. Scott Derrick at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email email@example.com.
Public Salary Range: $160,000-$200,000
Visit the Aztec Shops website at https://www.aztecshops.com/.
Visit the San Diego State University website at https://www.sdsu.edu/.
Aztec Shops is committed to providing equal employment opportunity (EEO) decisions solely upon an individual’s qualifications relating to the requirements of the position for which the individual is being considered, in regard to recruiting, hiring, training, transferring, and promoting the best-qualified persons for all jobs without regard to ancestry, age, color, disability, genetic information, gender, gender identity, gender expression hair style or texture associated with race, marital status, medical condition (genetic characteristics (GINA), cancer or a record or history of cancer), national origin, race, religion (religious dress/grooming practices), sex (includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and/or related medical conditions, reproductive choices), sexual orientation, military or veteran status, victimization of domestic violence (includes sexual assault, and/or stalking), or any other categories protected by law. Aztec Shops ensures this applies to all personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, layoffs, company-sponsored training, promotions, terminations, and disciplinary actions.
Aztec Shops, Ltd. is also committed to promoting a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture. Our organization embraces the many dimensions of diversity that make individuals unique and harnesses a variety of perspectives in order to create better outcomes that will benefit everyone.