Daisuke Kitta ’02: SHA Launched Me on Career in Real Estate

When Daisuke Kitta arrived at the School of Hotel Administration in 1998, his plan was to focus on learning the skills to become a hotel general manager. By the time he graduated in 2002, however, he was launched on a career in real estate, and was soon working for Deutsche Bank. Today, he is the managing director for Blackstone in Japan. In that role he oversees Blackstone’s real estate interests in Japan, including finding deals—managing, acquiring, and selling real estate. Among Blackstone’s recent activities in Japan, as reported by Reuters, was a $1.6 billion acquisition of residential real estate assets from General Electric. To date, this was the largest residential property transaction in Japan’s history.

“My parents are still amazed at this change,” Kitta said. “I started with no interest in real estate, but then I met Professor Dan Quan. His class was super tough, but I found out that I enjoyed the challenge of finance and real estate.” As Kitta explored his career options, he took an internship at a consulting firm, where he soon realized that he wanted to be a real estate investor. Instead of being a consultant, he wanted to be the person who would hire consultants.

Kitta credits Quan with encouraging his interest in real estate, connecting him with industry practitioners and suggesting that he add to the SHA curriculum by taking master’s level courses at the Johnson Graduate School of Management. “Because I was an undergraduate, I remember that I had to convince the professors there to sign me into their classes,” he said.

In addition to Professor Quan’s classes, Kitta appreciated the SHA’s well rounded curriculum. “I enjoyed the finance classes,” he said, “but I found that classes in other areas were extremely valuable. They give you a deeper understanding of the business.” Kitta particularly remembers being challenged by the school’s F&B classes. Passing those classes—and learning kitchen procedures—gave him the feeling that he had accomplished something.

“SHA prepares its students well,” he added. “It’s really a business school with a strong focus on hospitality and real estate. I interview graduates of many colleges, and they are really smart. But they do not learn about the specifics of real estate the way SHA students do.” Kitta said that seven SHA alumni are currently working in Blackstone’s real estate group.

“In addition to Professor Quan’s support, I have to say that the SHA alumni network was immensely helpful,” said Kitta. “The network is very strong—stronger than I expected. The alumni were a big help when I was seeking a job and when I moved to Blackstone.”

Kitta’s advice to others interested in a career in real estate: “Believe in yourself and be creative, no matter what part of the real estate or venture capital industry you are pursuing.”