President and Co-Founder, Mark Hoekstra Finds Redemption as He Graduates with a Master’s in Executive Leadership (MSEL)
Intersection President and Co-Founder, Mark Hoekstra, sat down with Bill Brennan of CMR Risk and Insurance Services to discuss how second chances and an opportunity for redemption led him to completing his Master’s Degree.
As Mark and Bill settle in and begin the interview, they both acknowledge their mutual admiration for each other, both personally and in business. “From a professional standpoint it’s been fantastic working with you. You do what we do. We do it in the commercial real estate space you do it in the insurance space. You anticipate and solve problems and it’s been a tremendous relationship and I love working together” says Mark.
“I want to point that out you’ve been a huge help to my career, and I’m really stoked you’re here”, continues Bill ” I think your story is amazing and I wanted to talk a little bit about what you do, what Intersection as a company does, and mainly about your recent master’s degree and how that relates to second chances and maybe redemption. Will you give our audience a brief summary of your background and what Intersection does?”
“Intersection is an investment management company focused on the commercial real estate space. We are headquartered in downtown San Diego, we have offices in Carlsbad, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Salt Lake City, with a team of about 45 staff members and brokers. Our company breaks up into four main divisions:
Our Investment Management Division raises money and buys commercial real estate. That’s done throughout the Western United State, right now we are focused industrial properties in markets like Las Vegas, Arizona, Salt Lake City, Denver and other markets. We’d like to do more in San Diego, we’d like to do more in California, it’s just very difficult with prices right now.
Our next largest division is Real Estate Services – traditional property management, we do for our own properties, and we do it for third parties. Generally, those third parties are clients who are investors of ours. In addition to property management there’s construction management, lease renewals, insurance tower and our insurance program. The next division is our brokerage division we have currently 11 brokers serving San Diego County and they not only work on our properties that we own but they also work on third party clients we help people to buy buildings sell buildings lease buildings we do tenant representation work helping clients to either relocate expand contract whatever and then our newest division is our Intersection Facility Services (ISF). Intersection Facility Services is something that probably much like our brokerage division, originated out not being happy with the services that we were getting from our vendors and our outside service providers and thought that maybe we could create a better mousetrap, maybe we could do this internally and so it started off just as a kind of almost like a little pet project of ours and it quickly blew up into a much more sizable, much more meaningful business ourselves and our clients better. That’s what Intersection does”, explains Mark
“That’s a great answer”, says Bill “You are a full-service real estate firm in a lot of ways which is a unique offering, and you do a good job for your clients I’ve seen it firsthand. I’m going to switch gears; this is the whole reason that I asked to meet with you. I love your story about getting your master’s degree and what drove you to do it um maybe the personal nature of it and just the experience in general kind of running a large firm and being a busy guy and getting it done and candidly excelling. I think yours is a story we can all relate to”.
“First of all, I’d be remiss if i didn’t talk about my business partner Rocco Cortese”, begins Mark. “Rocco and I have always tried to create a culture of lifelong learning within the company but to be honest with you he embraced it I talked about it a lot, but I don’t know that I necessarily embraced it and I didn’t live that belief to the extent that he did. We were talking one day we were having one of our same page meetings and we’re just talking about wanting to encourage a culture of learning within our company and especially within the leadership and so we challenged each other to go out and find something that would not only necessarily benefit the company but benefit us individually as human beings and so I started my process of looking at it. As a University of San Diego (USD) undergrad that was the first place I started, and I stumbled across this Master’s of Science and Executive Leadership. I didn’t have any intention of getting a degree I just knew there were areas where I needed more tools. I looked at the program and it touched on all of the issues that I wanted to grow and develop as a leader within our company, namely finance and accounting and marketing and entrepreneurship. It literally touched on all of these areas and so I said to myslef, ‘all right I’m going to bring Rocco and I’m going to bring my wife Glynna to this introductory breakfast where they talk about the program’. When we get there, I’m listening and I’m asking questions about the time commitment and I’m starting to panic inside, there’s no way I can do this, I can’t run four companies and I can’t do all the things that I’m doing, the community service work and do this. It’s insane. Once we get out of this breakfast and walk outside, Rocco says ‘so what did you think?’, and I said ‘There’s no way. I’m not going to do it’, he asks ‘why not?’ and I say ‘I can’t handle the time commitment’. Both my wife and my Rocco looked at me and they said ‘There’s no way you’re not going to do this. This this was made for you. We will support you all of the way’. Now I start thinking about it and then we’re really going back to a little bit of the personal nature there are three reasons for doing it.
Number one: we have goals we have a strategic plan for where we want to take this company and I recognized that I needed more tools in my toolbox to be able to be the operational leader of this organization and, in some respects, I’ve gone as far as I can go; to do it right and to be an effective leader, I needed more tools in my toolbox so that was number one.
Number two; what is Mark 2.0 going to look like? What am I going to do when I’m 68 years old 10 years from now? Maybe I’m not running the day-to-day operations of a full-service real estate company, maybe I’m going to be a professor at USD maybe I’m going to run for politics and run for an office? I need those tools to be that kind of a leader as well.
Number three is the more personal reason; I graduated from University of San Diego in 1986 and when I say graduated, I use that term very loosely. I had a 2.01 GPA and I remember feeling that day when I’m sitting there on the field, in cap and gown, looking around at my classmates and thinking, I don’t know that I belong here, I don’t know that I did the work, and I certainly didn’t feel like I was educated like everyone else. I think I’m smart, but I’ve always felt that maybe I wasn’t the most educated person in the room and so if I’m going to make this commitment, I’m going to make this commitment to get the tools that I need to run the company and to have the tools polished and continue to use them for whatever Mark 2.0 does. I’m going to excel, I’m going to do fantastic, and my goal was to get out of there with a 4.0. I didn’t quite do with a 3.98 (I got a B+ in one class and I ran out of classes in time to bring up my grade point average), but I really achieved all three of those ‘whys'”.
Bill follows up with “How do you feel now? Did graduating with your Master’s check off a bucket list item or personal goal? Has it closed that chapter for you?”
“It is extremely satisfying for many reasons” answers Mark. “As you know, I live on small horse and cattle ranch up in Valley Center and my friends would make fun of me because I was living on this ranch, and I didn’t even own any tools. One day, I went to Home Depot, and I bought all these tools. I don’t know how to use them, but I have some of the greatest tools and toolbox. I looked at it this education in a similar way. I can’t just go buy the tools, I actually have to learn how to use them and more importantly, I need to be intentional and try to create situations where you can use it again and again. The first most satisfying thing in finishing this program is being intentional in the lives of family and friends and as a leader, being a leader within the community and at work. How do I intentionally create situations where I can go use this new sets of tools? That’s been the most fun, that’s been the most gratifying. It really started with the first class 22 months ago because I started using the tools I was learning immediately and that gave a sense of accomplishment. I don’t know that I’m a whole lot smarter, but I feel more educated and I’m just proud of the effort. Going from barely graduating and having almost been thrown out of the University twice on academic probation, to now having nearly a 4.0 through this program. It was very satisfying. I’m already beginning the process of figuring out what’s next?”
To learn more about the MSEL program or leadership with the organization, please reach out to Mark Hoekstra at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natalie Baylon is the Marketing Coordinator at Intersection, providing strategic marketing expertise to support business objectives across company divisions. For general and marketing inquiries, please contact Natalie at email@example.com