Ajit Ketkar is a highly accomplished professional with a strong background in finance, consulting, and portfolio management from Short Hills, New Jersey. Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Ajit grew up in a middle-class household as the youngest of three boys. Despite financial constraints, he had a happy childhood filled with sports and various activities, surrounded by friends. His parents, who valued education, instilled in him and his brothers the importance of academic excellence from an early age.
Ajit’s educational journey started at Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute (VJTI), University of Bombay, where he earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computer Science, ranking in the top 10 of his graduating class. He then pursued a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM-C), where he distinguished himself and served as a Teaching Assistant for an Operations Management course. Seeking further growth and opportunities, Ajit moved to the United States and obtained a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Ajit’s professional career began at ICICI Bank, where he played a crucial role in establishing the bank’s consulting division. He later ventured into independent consulting in Europe, advising multinational corporations on operational issues. Following his MBA, Ajit joined The Boston Consulting Group and then Washington Mutual Bank, where he made significant contributions to strategic decision-making and branch expansion.
In 2007, Ajit joined AllianceBernstein, a leading global investment management firm, where he excelled as a Senior Vice President and Portfolio Manager. He managed substantial portfolios and consistently delivered exceptional investment performance, specializing in global real estate securities. Ajit’s expertise and track record earned him recognition and promotion within the firm.
Apart from his professional pursuits, Ajit is passionate about tennis, both as a player and spectator. He finds pride in his Indian American heritage and cherishes his cultural roots. Ajit’s dedication to continuous learning, his global experience, and his ability to navigate complex challenges make him a respected figure in the financial industry.
How did you get started in this business?
I got started in this business by excelling in academics and obtaining professional degrees from elite institutions in India and abroad. After completing my Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management, I worked for the country’s largest private sector bank, advising Indian businesses. I then pursued international consulting work in Europe, advising multinational companies, and earned my MBA with Honors from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Over the past twenty years, I have worked in strategy consulting, corporate management, and investment management, achieving notable accomplishments in these fields. Currently, I am an executive and investor in commercial real estate. To stay productive, I keep informed about business and market news, conduct data-driven analyses, and engage with experts in the real estate space.
I believe in an answer-first approach, analyzing data and speaking with people to prove or disprove hypotheses. Access to information and technology excites me, as it levels the playing field and enables personal and professional growth. One habit that helps me be productive is putting a figurative stake in the ground and being open-minded to the idea of being wrong. I also emphasize the importance of learning from failures and treating time as a valuable resource.
How does your company make money?
In my commercial real estate business, we generate revenue by investing in properties and earning returns through rental income, property appreciation, and strategic sales. I spend my workdays staying informed about market trends and conducting data-driven analyses to support my investment decisions. I also engage with owners, investors, and experts in the real estate industry. By focusing on productive tasks and utilizing a hypothesis-driven approach, I bring ideas to life and make informed investment choices. I believe that leveraging available information and technology is key to personal and professional growth. Additionally, I prioritize time as a valuable resource and learn from failures to continuously improve.
How does your company go about acquiring new customers?
As an executive and investor in commercial real estate, my company focuses on acquiring new customers through various strategies. We stay informed about business and market news to understand the latest real estate trends. Data-driven analyses help us prove or disprove our hypotheses. Additionally, we engage with owners, investors, and experts in the real estate space to gather insights. At the beginning of each week, I set goals and prioritize tasks. Throughout the day, I zero in on three or four key tasks to accomplish. This approach ensures productivity and helps us attract new customers to our commercial real estate business.
How did you work your way up in this business?
I worked my way up in this business by prioritizing education and excelling in academics. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management. I started my career in business consulting, working with large Indian companies. Then, I moved to Europe, advising multinational corporations. Later, I pursued an MBA in the United States. Throughout my career, I’ve worked in diverse fields such as strategy consulting, corporate management, and investment management. Currently, I’m an executive and investor in commercial real estate. I believe in using data-driven analysis, staying informed about market trends, and focusing on productive tasks each day. I’ve learned from failures and value the importance of time optimization.
What made you want to work in this industry?
What made me want to work in this industry is my passion for competition and the drive to be among the best. I have always aimed to compete with top professionals worldwide. Throughout my career, I have gained extensive experience in diverse fields such as strategy consulting, corporate management, and investment management. One of my most notable accomplishments includes delivering outstanding investment performance while managing high-value pension plans and endowments. Currently, as an executive and investor in commercial real estate, I enjoy staying updated on the latest trends, analyzing data, and engaging with experts in the field.
What is it that you feel makes you good at your job?
What makes me good at my job is my commitment to staying informed about business and market news, conducting data-driven analyses, and networking with industry experts. I approach ideas as hypotheses to prove or disprove, using an answer-first approach and gathering information through analysis and conversations. I’m excited about the accessibility of information and technology, which allows anyone to grow personally and professionally. One habit that helps me be productive is following established methodologies rather than reinventing the wheel. When I feel overwhelmed, I go for a run to gain a fresh perspective. Treating time as a valuable resource has been crucial for my career growth. I’ve learned from failures and realized that nothing is the end of the world unless I allow it to be. I believe the renewable energy sector holds great potential for business success. Microsoft Excel is my go-to software for number crunching. “The Outsiders” by William Thorndyke and “The Economist” magazine have provided valuable insights. Recently, I enjoyed rewatching the first season of “Designated Survivor,” which reminded me of the importance of doing the right thing for the greater good.
What are the perks of working in this type of business?
Working in the commercial real estate business comes with several perks. Firstly, I get to stay informed about the latest business and market news, allowing me to understand the current trends in real estate. Secondly, I spend time analyzing data and conducting research to support or challenge my hypotheses. Additionally, I have the opportunity to connect with owners, investors, and industry experts, expanding my network and knowledge. Planning my week in advance and focusing on a few important tasks each day helps me stay productive. The availability of information and technology excites me, as it provides equal opportunities for growth to everyone. Adopting a hypothesis-driven approach and evaluating the decision-making process rather than just the outcome is something I believe in, even if not many agree with me. Finally, I always recommend learning from others’ successful methodologies rather than reinventing the wheel.
What are the disadvantages of working in this field?
The disadvantages of working in the commercial real estate field include the need to constantly stay updated on business and market news, conducting data-driven analyses, and engaging with various stakeholders. It can be overwhelming and require a significant time commitment. Additionally, the field is competitive, and success is not guaranteed. Failures are common, and it is crucial to learn from them and persevere. Swimming against the current and pursuing unprofitable ventures can be detrimental. Balancing work and personal life can also be challenging. However, optimizing time and following a hypothesis-driven approach can help mitigate these disadvantages.
What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work is when I see my ideas and strategies come to life and produce successful outcomes. It’s satisfying to witness the impact of my data-driven analyses and discussions with industry experts. I find joy in proving or disproving hypotheses and making informed decisions based on that process. Seeing the positive results of my efforts and knowing that I’ve contributed to the growth and success of my business brings a sense of fulfillment. Ultimately, the reward lies in the satisfaction of being able to make a difference and achieve tangible results in the commercial real estate arena.
Where is your industry headed? What excites you about the future of this line of work?
Where is my industry headed? The commercial real estate industry is constantly evolving, and I see exciting changes on the horizon. One trend that excites me is the increasing accessibility of information and technology. It has leveled the playing field, allowing anyone to access quality information and insights regardless of their location. This opens up new opportunities for personal and professional growth. Additionally, renewable energy is a sector with great potential for success. Entrepreneurs who venture into this industry could make a significant impact while also achieving financial success. Overall, the future of commercial real estate holds immense possibilities, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
What advice do you give people who want to get into your field of work?
If you want to get into my field of commercial real estate investment, here’s my advice:
- Focus on education: Obtain a professional degree from a reputable institution to lay a strong foundation for your career.
- Stay informed: Keep up with business and market news to understand the latest trends in real estate. This knowledge will be crucial for making informed investment decisions.
- Analyze and research: Use data-driven and information-based analysis to prove or disprove investment hypotheses. Dive deep into market research and conduct thorough due diligence before making any investment decisions.
- Network and learn from experts: Connect with experienced real estate owners, investors, and professionals. Learn from their insights and experiences to gain valuable knowledge about the industry.
- Set clear goals and prioritize tasks: Start each week with a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Prioritize your tasks and focus on completing the most important ones each day.
- Embrace the hypothesis-driven approach: Approach your business with hypotheses that you want to prove or disprove. Use rigorous analysis, discussions with experts, and an answer-first mindset to evaluate investment opportunities.
- Swim with the current: Recognize that success comes from aligning yourself with market trends and opportunities. Avoid persisting in areas that may not yield significant returns.
- Learn from the process, not just the outcome: Evaluate decision-making processes rather than judging success solely based on outcomes. Focus on improving your decision-making abilities and learn from both successful and unsuccessful decisions.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel: Learn from successful approaches and methodologies already established in the industry. Time is valuable, so leverage existing knowledge to optimize your own efficiency and effectiveness.
- Find balance and stay focused: When feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, engage in physical activities like running to clear your mind. Return to your tasks with a fresh perspective.
Remember, failure is inevitable, but learn from your failures and use them as stepping stones to future success. And finally, consider exploring opportunities in the renewable energy sector, as it holds promising potential for both short-term and long-term success.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Yes, I am willing to be a mentor. To contact me, you can reach out at ajitketkar.com.