March 9, 2020

Tisch Center Alumni Spotlight: Steen Petri, HEI Hotels and Resorts

Steen Petri graduated in 2003 with an MS in Hospitality Industry Studies, focusing on hotel development and asset management. He is now the senior vice president of investments at HEI Hotels and Resorts. In this post, he tells us more about his background and current role.

What is your background? 

I have been with HEI since 2008. As the SVP of investments I am responsible for the firm’s business development team and the growth of the company’s portfolio. Prior to HEI, I was the director of acquisitions & development at the Waterford Hotel Group, where my responsibilities included land acquisition sourcing, securing entitlements and underwriting for ground-up hotel development projects and capital transactions. Formerly, I spent over 10 years in hospitality operations, leading management teams at assets including the W Hotel Union Square NYC, The Lotos Club in NYC, and the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, CO. I hold a master's degree in hotel development & asset management from the NYU SPS Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, and served as president of the NYU SPS Tisch Center Alumni Society. Additionally, I hold a bachelor’s degree in hotel & restaurant management from the University of New Haven. 

Can you talk about your current role at HEI? 

HEI is a 3rd party hotel management company that raises capital for acquisitions on a deal-by-deal basis, and co-invests with our institutional capital partners. In my role, I spearhead the firm’s deal sourcing for acquisitions and 3rd party management agreements through an extensive network of institutional capital groups, brokers, consultants and other stakeholders. With a focus on full-service hotels, we source deals, underwrite and then pitch our business plan to capital partners. As part of that, I oversee all aspects of HEI’s transactional underwriting, financing, contract negotiations, due diligence, and deal execution.

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

I am passionate about the hotel real estate industry in general. The combination of real estate and operations makes what we do so much more complex than other types of real estate, and hence so exciting. On a more tangible level, I am passionate about creating great teams. Putting together a dynamic and diverse group of people—from young junior analysts up to fellow SVP’s—and getting those teams to perform is a very rewarding experience. 

In what ways has your NYU experience had an impact on your career? 

Going back to school after having been on the hospitality operations side for six or seven years offered me the opportunity to move from an operating career to an investments career. I can't see how I would have been able to do that without getting a master's from NYU. 

What career advice would you give to NYU students?

Don’t think of your career path as a straight line that you must map out from early on and follow strictly. You have to be somewhat opportunistic when you take your first job after graduation. While you should seek to work for organizations that you respect and people from whom you can learn the most, you should remain open minded to take advantage of what opportunities come along that will take you towards your end goal. Essentially, don’t think of it as a straight narrow line from A to Z. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

My big takeaway from attending the Tisch Center is that it offers you so many opportunities not found at other universities. With professors and guest lecturers directly from the hotel industry at your fingertips, a unique opportunity is offered to interact with industry icons, and to start building relationships that will contribute to a valuable professional network. To a large extent, what you take away from the program depends upon what you put into it, and how much you recognize the unique opportunities the School offers you to kick start your career.


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