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By Gunvor Engstrom
Position – CEO Brunswick Real Estate Capital, Founding Partner Brunswick Real Estate
Company – Brunswick Real Estate Capital
Founded – 1992
Number of employees – around 80 within the group
Successes – Group first rank ratings in Real Estate Investment Banking, Investment Management and now the first real estate debt fund in the Nordics.
Member of Women Presidents´Organization
How did you get this position?
I grew up in an academic rather than entrepreneurial family. Not really knowing what to pursue, I followed a friend´s advice and went to the Royal Institute of Technology for a Master in Surveying/Real Estate Economics. Graduating in a challenging environment in 1991 I started working as an analyst for the First, Second and Third National Swedish Pension Funds as they were setting up the Real Estate Investment team. After seven years in a fantastic, analytical environment I joined Drott, a real estate company out of Skanska, as it was being listed. Goal oriented leadership was key. In 2002 I was asked to join a real estate advisory/investment bank team – a group of people I still work with. As an advisor I had to go outside my comfort zone every day, always having to add value or you have no role. Around 2012 I started to think about taking a different route – and took on a new role on the investment side of our business.
The last four years I have focused on bringing institutional capital to real estate debt and real estate lending. We have started the first real estate senior debt fund in the Nordics, held final close in March 2015 and it is now almost fully invested. Fund number two is being set up as we speak and we are developing additional debt strategies.
For me, as a former basketballplayer, the team and the coach are key and I have always been careful with both. I have not been afraid to express what I want to do. In each workplace I´ve been I have circled what I would like to do and said so. I believe my curiosity in combination with a genuine interest in people has helped me. I am persistent (fit into ‘Gritty’) and strive for constant improvement.
What is success? I love my family, my friends, have great people to work with and feel exceptionally fortunate. Success at work is each time we build trust, deliver for our clients and are able to grow our business further as a result of that.
Decision you regret?
I don´t really think like that – it is not worth the energy! I have sometimes reflected/wondered what my life would have looked like if I had gone to NY to investigate the REIT market, if I had gotten a job as an equity analyst or if we had moved to Germany for my husband´s work. I am happy where I am, life is full of coincidence and I am grateful that I have been blessed with decent judgement to walk away from situations I am not happy with. Maybe I should do more things I might regret…..
Generally, my biggest challenge is me – to maintain energy and be kind to myself.
The undoubtedly toughest experience of my life was to lose my brother and my father within less than two years. Workwise – as a consequence of the financial crisis (after Lehman), we reduced the workforce by close to 40 percent. It was the right thing to do given the situation– but a very hard message to deliver to people you really like and have worked together with for a long time.
Experience to share with other entrepreneurs?
Allow things to take time, there are no shortcuts, surround yourself only with people who add to your energy, trust your instinct.