December 12, 2019

Tisch Center Alumni Spotlight: Katharine Lau

Katharine Lau graduated in 2011 with a BS in Hotel and Tourism Management from the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. She is currently a Senior Director of Real Estate at Industrious, which offers hospitality-driven workplace experiences in thoughtfully designed space.

What has your journey been like after graduating NYU?

Since graduating from NYU, I've had a fulfilling career in the commercial real estate space. I developed a great foundation at PGIM Real Estate (Prudential) where I learned the institutional investment side of the business. From there, I wanted to get my hands dirty, so I went to L&L Holding Company to work on acquisitions, new developments and repositionings. Traditional real estate investment and development became too slow moving for me, so I joined the real estate team at Equinox to help quickly expand its national footprint. Around the same time, coworking was booming, and I was happy to watch from the sidelines. However, when the co-founder of Industrious reached out to me in 2016 about joining as the first RE hire, I couldn't resist the opportunity. That's where I am today, and I couldn't be happier.

Can you talk about your current role at Industrious?

In the early days I did everything -- I lead our deal sourcing, negotiation and overall expansion strategy. Over a year ago, we shifted our strategy to an asset-light model which introduced a lot of new and exciting complexity to our business; and now, we only sign management agreements similar to the hotel world. Now, I lead new product development, strategic business development, special projects, product marketing, and feasibility. What this means is that my team and I figure out all the new and complex stuff that we then cascade to the rest of the development team.

What are you passionate about in the work that you do?

Growth! Being on this startup rocket ship, owning the company's highest priority initiatives, and learning / making mistakes everyday energizes me. I've never worked harder in my life, and it's because I'm passionate about growing businesses and creating new things.

In what ways has your NYU experience had an impact on your career and shaped who you are today?

Industrious represents the intersection of hospitality and commercial real estate. NYU gave me a solid hospitality education and unparalleled internship experiences which got my foot in the door at PGIM and started all of this. Additionally, I made lifelong friends and developed a wide professional network as a direct result of being an NYU student and active alumni leader.

What career advice would you give to NYU students?

Take chances and don't be afraid to go down a non-traditional path. That might mean becoming an entrepreneur, joining a startup (like me), taking time off to travel, or more. You learn so much from being uncomfortable and taking risks.

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