(Re)development as a Measure of Success: Scott Peterson ’13 MBA

Nov. 26, 2019

Profiles
Alumni
Scott Peterson

Scott Peterson '13 MBA, Vice President of Hospitality and Residential Development, United Properties

“If I look at the success of my career, there were two turning points,” says Scott Peterson ’13 MBA, who at 36 years old oversees more than $275 million in urban real estate development projects nationwide for Minneapolis-based United Properties.

First, he moved to a resort town to build a real estate development business in a new market for Linthicum Custom Builders, his employer at the time. It was an impressive accomplishment particularly considering he succeeded during the Great Recession. Second, he followed that up by earning his Executive MBA from the Eller College of Management, traveling every weekend for 16 months from Lake Tahoe, California to Phoenix, Arizona.

“I was wearing jeans and boots and thought I was a real mover and shaker in the resort development world of Lake Tahoe,” he recalls. “Then suddenly, I’m wearing a suit and talking to people who were my age but were even more successful, more aggressive, on a higher trajectory—it really opened my eyes to what I could accomplish.”

Little did Peterson know as he made his way through the program that one of his first corporate projects after graduation would bring him right back to the Eller MBA: the redevelopment of the historic Hotel Monroe in Phoenix. Now called the Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Downtown, it’s the hotel where Executive MBA students stay when in town for the program’s Phoenix sessions. And like the Eller Executive MBA, which Peterson found “100 percent transformational,” the hotel’s transformation—though the “hardest and most complicated deal I’ve done”—was a resounding success, winning Hilton’s Hotel Conversion of the Year Award in 2015.
 

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Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix
Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Downtown. Image courtesy CSM Corporation.

Clearly the 13-story Art Deco hotel built in 1932, which sat vacant for years before being redeveloped by CSM Lodging under Peterson’s leadership, needed a makeover. But a makeover would seem less necessary for Peterson, who had already found success within the real estate industry in Lake Tahoe and in Hawaii before that. Why take on the extra work of an MBA, and at his own expense?

“I was ready to move into corporate America, literally and geographically,” says Peterson, who grew up in Minneapolis and yearned to move into a bigger market. But he had to find a dynamic executive MBA program with a solid return on his investment. He says: “The Executive MBA made sense.”

And it made a difference: “Not only did I learn from outstanding professors and company executives and build an excellent network of contacts,” he says, “the program really took my confidence to the next level.”

He also recalls the engaging discussions during the program. “I was a part of learning that there was just no way I could experience in Lake Tahoe,” he says. “I sat next to students who were responsible for hundred-million-dollar deals. We had a heavy-hitting group of students and influential guest speakers. It was amazing.”

It was also lucrative: “Within 18 months of graduating I doubled my yearly income,” he says.

Today Peterson continues to build on what he learned, moving from CSM to United Properties and expanding his development portfolio and responsibilities as a corporate executive in an industry which he has always found exciting.

He credits the Executive MBA plus hard work for his success—“but it’s a different kind of hard work now,” he says. “When you’re young, you make your own success because you can outwork people. As you get more experience and more successful, your responsibilities grow and now your ability to be successful is based on the team you build around you. So you work harder to make sure that your team understands what you need from them, that they’re growing professionally and that there’s a level of trust in how they execute—because that is now how you execute.”

As he thinks back on the hard work he put into the Executive MBA, he says, “I have never regretted the crazy hours, the flights, the hotels. Not once. The hard work opens up the value of having an executive MBA. It’s so big you can’t put a monetary measurement on it.” But as Peterson knows, you can use it as a measure of your success.


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