Aaron Cannon graduated with his B.B.A. in Finance with a concentration in Real Estate in May 2013. During his time at the Rawls College, he was involved in the Real Estate Organization (REO). Cannon now works as a leasing associate for GRACO Real Estate Development, Inc., a commercial real estate development firm that specializes in retail development. He is responsible for managing the leasing of a portfolio of commercial real estate properties including, but not limited to, office space, retail space and land. His role primarily consists of negotiating new leases and working with existing tenants on lease amendments and renewals. Read the Q&A below for more information on how the Rawls College as well as REO helped prepare him for his career.
Why did you choose Texas Tech and the Rawls College in particular?
I grew up a Red Raider. My mother has worked for the Animal and Food Sciences Department at Texas Tech University for 21 years, so I always knew that I would end up at Texas Tech. There is a sense of pride that alumni from Texas Tech carry with them, which is why a lot of employers respect the university. I wanted to be a part of that tradition.
Why did you decide to pursue real estate?
My career path changed after my involvement with a real estate project in college. I began my college career majoring in biology. I had plans of going to medical school, but those plans changed once my wife's family introduced me to real estate. My wife and I had the opportunity to complete a residential rehab project here in Lubbock during our sophomore year. Throughout that process, I was exposed to the many facets of the real estate industry. I was intrigued by the fact that every single person, from the construction contractors to the title company, were able to help create value for not only our project, but for the neighborhood as a whole. We were fortunate enough to make a profit on the project, and that is when I decided that business was the direction that I wanted to go. A couple of months later, I decided to take courses to obtain my real estate license.
What did you love most about being a Rawls College student?
I love that the Rawls College of Business gives each student the opportunity to find their passion. There are numerous clubs and organizations affiliated with the college; this allows students to find out which area of business appeals to them the most. Some of my most memorable experiences in college came from the organizations that I was involved with, specifically REO. Also, the willingness of the professors and advisors to go the extra mile, whether through competitions or in the classroom, is what separates the Rawls College from other colleges. Like Lubbock, the college feels like a close-knit community.
What was your favorite part about being involved in REO? What benefits does it have to students?
REO was single-handedly the most beneficial aspect of my college career. The advisors, Dr. Paul Goebel and Dr. David Harrison, were tremendous. Each had industry experience, which allowed them to bridge the gap between academia and practice. Jared Harrell, the current advisor to REO, is an asset to the college. His background in law and finance is perfectly suited for the role.
REO gives each member the opportunity to learn from individuals that work in different areas of real estate. Real estate is a very large industry, so getting exposed to different facets really helps each member decide which path is right for them. During my final semester at Texas Tech, I was nominated President of the organization, which gave me the opportunity to interact with industry professionals whenever scheduling organization events and trips. The connections that I made with these professionals, and my peers, still benefit me to this day.
How did the Rawls College prepare you for your career?
The Rawls College of Business gave me the foundation I needed in business. I use financial metrics on a daily basis whenever negotiating a lease, so understanding concepts such as NPV, IRR and amortization has really benefited me. The most important skill that I acquired through while at the Rawls College was the ability to problem solve. I was not the most gifted student, so I had to work hard on developing my ability to reason through problems. A lot of my finance courses involved case studies, which helped developed my reasoning skills.
Do you have any advice for students or recent graduates looking for jobs or internships in your real estate?
Real estate is a "people" business. I think the most important thing someone can do is get involved in organizations, whether it be in school, in the community or both. The personal connections made in business go a long way. It is important to continue acquiring new skills and knowledge, but the relationships you make in life will always be your number one asset.
Photo taken by May & Marie Photography in Lubbock.