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Best Bosses in the Business: The Iconoclast

By June 28, 2016No Comments

Congratulations to William O. Passo, winner of The Iconoclast category for Real Estate Forum’s Best Bosses in the Business.

If one were to look on paper at what makes a great leader in commercial real estate, the criteria would certainly include financial performance, transaction volume, shareholder returns or the number of properties the firm owns or manages—depending on the type of business the individual leads. And a quick look at some of the data available on the industry would make the task of selecting CRE’s top leaders relatively easy.

Yet true leaders manifest themselves not only through performance but also—and arguably more importantly—by the way their employees feel about them. After all, real estate is a relationship business, and relationships are all about people. Even the most qualified and experienced C-suite executive would be adrift in such a tumultuous business without a talented, motivated and dedicated crew.

With this in mind, we at Real Estate Forum decided to find out who were considered among the industry’s best leaders as part of our inaugural Leadership Issue. Of course, we sought out such factors as ambition, accomplishment and financial prowess. But we also looked beyond those qualities to turn up individuals who were likable, inspirational, innovative and who lead by example. In short, we were looking for leaders who rise above the C-suite sea to have talented professionals clamoring to work for—and with—them.

The response to our call for the “Best Bosses in the Business” far exceeded our expectations, with more than 100 nominees submitted for consideration. The editors narrowed down the selections to 26 finalists based on the individuals’ most remarkable characteristic; in fact, the breadth and quality of the nominees was so great that we decided to increase the number of finalists—and their superlatives, if you will—from the initially planned 15.

We then conducted a thorough poll of our readership to determine who would grace the issue’s cover as the Best Boss in the Business. Nearly 4,000 votes later, we had our winner in Andrew Wright, the young superstar who founded Franklin Street a decade ago.

Yet all 26 of the individuals on the following pages have justly earned the reputation of “Best Boss,” if one were to look at how their employees feel about them. Read on to see who else made the final cut, and what their colleagues have to say about them. And for more information about our process in selecting the finalists, read our detailed methodology section at the end of this feature.

The Iconoclast

When Bill Passo developed the concept for tenant-in-common ownership in the early 1990s, many in the industry scratched their heads. Before then, there has never been a structure in place for multiple investors to share the risk—and returns—in a deal. Yet Bill championed the idea, taking it from a notion unheard of throughout the NASD Broker Dealer nationwide network and the real estate financing industry, all the way to Washington, DC, where he petitioned for what would become the very first TIC structure in real estate. That led the way for the growth of what became a landmark change in the real estate investment industry, and the rest is history.

As the TIC structure grew to a $4-billion-plus industry, being formally validated in 2002 and evolving since then, so did Passco Cos. LLC. And when the downturn hit and reduced the number of TIC sponsors, which numbered as many as 80 by the late 2000s, by some 95%, Passco remained afloat, with Bill at its helm as CEO.

His ability to not only be a pioneer in the field but also to successfully guide his team through even the worst of times, is what instills confidence and admiration in those who work with him, many of whom have been there for over a decade. Staffers shared such comments as, “Being around Bill is an energizing experience;” “Bill is the reason I am here;” “His accomplishments so far are a form of motivation;” “Everyone at the company is better o for having been employed there,” and “Working with him is an honor and a privilege.”

And, indicating that the love and admiration between Bill and his team is mutual, one respondent said, “I have seen Bill moved to tears in front of the entire company when he is speaking on something he is passionate about or someone he is proud of.” 

This article was originally published in Real Estate Forum’s June 2016 issue.

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