March Face of Ensemble – Sam Pierzina
The March Face of Ensemble is our Financial Analyst (Century City, Los Angeles Office), Sam!
When did you join Ensemble and what do you do?
I joined Ensemble immediately after graduating from UCLA in July of 2015. It was and still is my first “grownup” job. I’m an analyst and work most days from the Century City satellite office alongside Jacob and Mike. As an analyst, I spend my time underwriting all the deals in our development and acquisition pipelines; this means working with members from the construction, operations, and financing teams, as well as external third parties, to evaluate the attractiveness of prospective investments. There’s a lot of input from a lot of different people, and it’s my job to synthesize that information into a model, which forecasts future cash flows and evaluates investment returns.
What do you like most about working at Ensemble?
While I am still very junior at this company, and have but a fledgling grasp of the real estate industry at large, I have been given a seat at the table since day one of working here. That isn’t something you get at very many other places. I could have chosen to be a small cog at a giant corporation, but working for a smaller company like Ensemble has (1) allowed me to learn directly from many intelligent and highly seasoned, senior employees and (2) has entrusted me with more responsibility than I would get at a larger firm. I enjoy that responsibility immensely, and have been very grateful to work alongside some of the best in the business.
Why or how did you get into your current line of work?
When I applied for the analyst position at Ensemble, I really didn’t have much, if any, real estate experience. UCLA unfortunately didn’t offer any sort of a real estate degree; they did, however, offer one real estate finance course which I took spring quarter of my senior year immediately prior to interviewing for the position. Luckily for me, I had just studied for the final and everything was still pretty fresh in my head. Fake it til you make it I guess. Anyway, someone was naïve enough to offer me the job and the rest is history.
That being said, I’ve been interested in real estate for a long time. My parents will tell you that when I was a child I’d say I wanted to be a developer when I grew up. That was long before I even knew what all being a developer entailed. I’m attracted to the value creation aspect of real estate development, as well as its creative facets and the ability of a beautiful building to inspire awe. These properties that we build are a culmination of many intelligent people working long hours on something that no one person could have achieved on their own. I find that very powerful.
Where did you grow up and what was your first job?
I was born and raised in the North County suburbs of San Diego, California. I worked my first job the summer of my junior year in high school at the San Diego County Fairgrounds. I worked at a concession both for two sweet ladies from Sydney selling Australian Battered Potatoes™. If you’ve never had the pleasure of sampling an Australian Battered Potato™, it’s basically a fat french-fry with double the grease. They go great with nacho cheese and ranch.
I was too young to work in the kitchen at the time so I was tasked primarily with taking people’s orders in line. Our booth sat directly under the gondola that transported fair-goers from one side of the grounds to the other, so I was routinely pelted with falling objects from above; popcorn, gum, stuffed animals, canes, spit, and a little bit of everything else in between.
What do you do for fun after work?
I try my best to make it to the gym after work; I’d say I even succeed most days. After that I typically go home and reward myself with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Fortunately, my metabolism is still working in my favor. I enjoy hiking quite a bit, although I do not go as much as I’d like to in LA. I also try to go on 2 to 3 camping trips each year; last year I spent weekends in Idyllwild, Joshua Tree, and Northern Florida. I enjoy socializing with friends, but I also quite enjoy spending vast amounts of time deep in conversation with myself, many of which conversations are a product of three or four long pours from a box of Franzia.
What is your favorite or most memorable vacation spot?
Just this last November I spent a week sailing through the US and British Virgin Islands. I myself have no clue how to sail a boat, but Captain Paul made sure none of us drowned and the chef made sure to keep our stomachs full and minds well-lubricated for the duration of the charter. We woke up to a new island every morning and spent the week swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Needless to say, it was a pretty luxe trip and I will be fortunate to ever again experience a vacation of that caliber. Ensemble Holiday Party 2017?