Since 1996, Brandywine Realty Trust has made a name for itself in the unpredictable real-estate industry. Today, the company has 31 million square feet of office product to its name, and the portfolio is valued at $3 billion. Such a large pool of assets requires a sharp legal leader, and Brandywine has it in Brad Molotsky. Molotsky, who also handles the firm’s sustainability initiatives, faces a workday that’s always changing. And while he navigates it all, he also remains committed to his own philanthropic endeavors. We wanted to know how Molotsky got to where he is today, and spoke to him about the ins and outs of the job.
Why did you decide to practice law?
Molotsky: Actually, nothing in particular drove me to the law. My undergraduate
degree is in accounting, but collaborating to creatively resolve problems between parties became more interesting to me while obtaining my law and MBA degrees. After law school, I was recruited by Pepper Hamilton, where I was exposed to many disparate, diverse practice areas that provided me with a solid foundation for my work at Brandywine.
What’s the most challenging part of your position?
Molotsky: Being a publically traded company, 143 million people are “watching” us every day and voting with their pocketbooks as to whether they like what we are striving to achieve, which makes our business
fascinating, fun, and occasionally exasperating. Every decision we make—from buying land to constructing a new office building to retrofitting an existing building to selling a property—has a tremendous amount of legal, regulatory, and corporate oversight that goes along with it.
How has your role with Brandywine changed since its inception?
Molotsky: I started working with Brandywine as a senior associate at my former firm. The company was just starting out, but as its deal volume and acquisitions increased, the principals saw the need to hire inside counsel, and offered me the position. My work is constantly evolving as the company’s focus changes with the times. For example, two years ago, I helped create Brandywine Environments, our company-wide sustainability initiative, which spans across all of our properties.
Why sustainability now?
Molotsky: If a company can operate more efficiently and consume fewer resources—and thereby cost our tenants less money—why not? It makes sense financially, operationally, and environmentally. In the first two years, we set ambitious goals and achieved the majority of them. Our 2012 goals improved upon our early initiatives and added new focus areas, including LEED friendly landscape protocols and LEED-based construction/development, as seen at the General Service Administration’s IRS Complex at 30th Street in Philadelphia.
How have the past several years changed Brandywine’s focus?
Molotsky: With changing demographics, increased alternative work-space environments, and minimal new demand for office space, the office sector was challenged over the last few years. For the most part, our portfolio, our tenants, their credit risk, and our capital sources didn’t change, but people in the market were nervous and very cautious.
What lessons would you share out of that experience?
Molotsky: Don’t let short-term impact affect your long-term thinking, and be flexible enough to shift focus to new lines of business if appropriate. Brandywine has investigated and begun to venture into areas such as student and multifamily housing and automated parking garages.
How do you stay on top of it all?
Molotsky: Well, I don’t need much sleep, for one. I do think, however, that being able to prioritize each day according to deadlines and to manage multiple people in various tasks in a high stakes, transactional environment are extremely important. I equate it to being a maestro in a large orchestra—you may not be able to play all the various instruments, but you have to be able to get them to play in unison. You must also be able to marshal your resources towards a common, desired result, without creating ill will.
Where do you find your work-life balance?
Molotsky: Being engaged in the community has always been important to me. Some would say I overextend myself, but giving back enriches both me and my family’s life. My philanthropic work includes serving on various civic, real-estate, sustainability, and building councils; serving on the board of the Walnut Street Theatre and the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey; and serving as president of Jewish Community Properties, Inc. Being a lymphoma cancer survivor, I am also on the executive board of the local chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Any parting words for those starting out?
Molotsky: No matter where you are, make the most of it. Working hard, playing hard, keeping a positive upbeat attitude, being grateful for the family and people supporting and helping you, and being creatively persistent and doggedly determined will always lead to good things in the future.