Diversity in CRE: An Interview with Marcus Duley
Walker & Dunlop | Oct. 24, 2023
In the evolving landscape of commercial real estate, one thing remains certain: strong leadership can make or break a company’s trajectory. The stalwart leaders at Walker & Dunlop Investment Partners not only drive our internal operations but also leave an indelible mark on the industry as a whole, and we’re pleased that others are taking notice.
Walker & Dunlop Investment Partners’ Chief Investment Officer Marcus Duley recently chatted with Diversity CRE host Nylz Reyes about his role in real estate finance and how WDIP is committed to promoting diversity in the industry.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Marcus embodies his family’s tradition of excellence and success. His older sister and younger brother are both physicians, and the three, guided by their parents’ example, made it their childhood priority to value education, learn, and do well.
Marcus earned a full scholarship to St. Joseph’s Prep, a high school known for academic excellence and bringing together people of diverse backgrounds. There, he focused on building a personal background of diversity, including roles on the chess, football, and wrestling teams. He later earned a full academic scholarship to Loyola University in Maryland and took advantage of a chance to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he learned Spanish.
The path from Loyola University to Chief Investment Officer at WDIP wasn’t linear for Marcus. After graduating college, he dabbled in marketing for Black and Decker’s Dewalt Power Tools division before working for Vanguard as a client service representative. He attended Temple University to earn his MBA, then entered a commercial real estate training program at Wachovia Bank to experience various roles in real estate finance.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with people who were always pursuing something better,” he shares with Reyes. “When something became easy, I looked to the next step. The same applies to financial goals, too.”
Marcus on D&I in CRE
Having witnessed both lacking and having diversity throughout his education and career, Marcus recognizes the potential beneficial impact diversity can have on commercial real estate.
However, he also agrees the industry as a whole isn’t there yet.
“There’s not a lot of diversity in CRE, but I do see efforts being made. What we really need is to grade results, not effort. A “C” is still a “C” no matter how hard you studied.”
To spur change, Marcus shares that individuals from diverse backgrounds should consider it as a career path. He wanted a job in finance and ended up in real estate, but he believes that if others are aware of the industry and its opportunities for diverse backgrounds, more companies can generate D&I results.
How WDIP Continues to Expand D&I in CRE
Marcus and other leaders at WDIP are leading the charge to help invite more diversity into CRE. Senior management shares these goals and responsibilities, including ERGs for black employees, LBGTQ+, and other minorities. Spearheaded by CEO Willy Walker, Walker & Dunlop launched CREUnited in 2021 to address the lack of diversity in commercial real estate.
“If these goals are achieved, it impacts people’s pockets. And we have a strong push from the CEO down to make it happen.”