Real Estate CEO Maynard Wagner (EMBA’ 11) Reflects on a Career That Took Shape during His Foster Experience
Sometimes the road you’re on hits a sharp curve. Maynard Wagner found himself in this position when a big-name bank acquired his employer. He had to decide whether to continue in the corporate banking world or take a leap into something new.
Making that decision became the first of several choices Maynard would face. He earned a BA in business administration from the University of Washington, setting his sights on accounting and finance. However, the bank takeover and 2008 financial crisis showed Maynard that he needed to take the reins and channel his entrepreneurial spirit.
In 2009, he headed back to school at Foster, this time for an executive MBA (EMBA).
“Going into the executive MBA program and being surrounded by seasoned professionals from diverse careers, you’re exposed to a lot of information, personalities, and business experiences. You learn a ton from them. It’s amazing how much you pick up just by being involved in an intensive study group of professionals all contributing to a common cause.” Maynard said.
While in school, Maynard used his finance background to help friends and classmates get out of difficult housing situations. During this time, he also tried his hand at investing in real estate. Even though it was during the short sales & foreclosure boom, where nearly every real estate agent and broker was leaving the business.
Maynard saw what was happening, and he realized his career path “was right in my lap as I was going to school. I decided to take that opportunity to go full-time as a real estate broker.”
Giving credit to his classmates, Maynard said, “It was my classmates who created the light that this was a great career to be in. It provided me with the opportunity to carry out all these activities — management, operations, sales, marketing — in one professional career.”
He added, “My classmates were my first clients, and my first client was an investor who was a top financial advisor at Morgan Stanley. I still stay in touch with him.”
With the global economy in such flux, switching careers created a different type of challenge. But Maynard knew he was ready for it. “I came in at a tough time,” he said, “which has allowed me to learn a lot. It was an amazing learning experience. I had to go from a world of structure, where the job was Monday to Friday, to learning on the job is something the financial real estate world hadn’t seen before.”
Moving through his new career, he experienced highs and lows with real estate transactions, moving from eight his first year to fourteen and then thirty. He said, “This is a business where what you see on Million Dollar Listing is not realistic. This business is awesome and so rewarding, but it requires an intense work ethic and commitment to do what it takes to be successful.”
He added, “Three years of real, practical experience, you can’t measure it or read it in a book. There’s no manual for it.” For Maynard, a well-rounded career in real estate meant solid theory in education, practical academics from his EMBA, and real-world professional experiences.
He said, “The EMBA program brought me a lot more confidence because I realized how much I learned from the experience and the network I built during & after.”
When the 2020 pandemic hit, Maynard found himself reflecting on the 2008 financial crisis, and he knew it would help him keep a level head. “My background allowed me to be calm and not panic. I went through it before in a professional capacity, but also in the middle of school. With the pandemic, I spent a lot of time analyzing the data and comparing the two crises. I spent time understanding how they were different to make sure we weren’t overreacting because of our last recession.”
Maynard channeled his solid financial and real estate background to make data-driven decisions instead of predictive, unfounded choices about what would happen with real estate throughout 2020.
When he looks back on his career, Maynard has much to be thankful for. Along with wonderful classmates, he had incredible professors. “All of my professors had such well-rounded experiences and were able to teach to this level of being an executive and having a lot of business and life experience already. So that particular aspect of the program felt like we were dealing with some of the most experienced, seasoned professors.”
Maynard firmly believes that his time at Foster getting his EMBA was pivotal in his career progression. Meeting so many professionals from different career paths gave him the inspiration to take hold of his goals and make them a reality. The EMBA program, and the friends he made along the way, inspired him to never stop reaching.