ULI-Louisiana member Alejandra Guzman is the Vice President for Performance Management & Strategy for the New Orleans Business Alliance. Alejandra helped launch ULI Louisiana’s first ever Local Product Council and is active in programming for future ULI Louisiana Events. We recently sat down with Alejandra to learn more about her background, experience, and involvement with ULI-Louisiana.
ULI: Why did you decide to become involved with ULI?
AG: I have been involved in urban development and real estate through my career and I think it’s a fascinating industry in which one can get to interact with many different disciplines. When I moved to New Orleans I new I wanted to continue to interact with professionals in this industry and the ULI is the best place to accomplish this.
ULI: What initially brought you to New Orleans?
AG: I first found myself in New Orleans while pursuing my MBA at Tulane. I applied to Tulane´s MBA program following my father´s recommendation. He had obtained his PhD from this university and was confident that I would love New Orleans. During my MBA years I met who is now my husband. We have now been married for almost three years and have made this city our home.
ULI: What is your background with land use and real estate development?
AG:Before moving to New Orleans I worked for 10+ years at CEMEX ((NYSE: CX)) an international construction company. During this time I had the opportunity to participate in interesting programs that included activities such as supporting governments rebuild after natural disasters and offering microcredits for affordable housing. After this I worked for Capital Natural, another Mexican company, to promote urban and community development for real estate projects valued in excess of $200 million.
This included integrating and implementing urban, community, and political strategies into a core business model for the company. I also managed a multi-sector team of staff and consultants to promote a public private partnership focusing on urban regeneration and mobility.
Since 2016, I´ve focused my efforts toward the Greater New Orleans community whom I serve daily. My key responsibilities as NOLABA’s Vice President of Performance Management and Strategy are creating strategic initiatives, managing stakeholder relationships, and leading special projects. Special projects have included leading NOLABA´s yearly delegation to ICSC´s RECON and redesigning our organization´s real estate strategy.
ULI: What are some of your favorite projects that you’re currently working on for the NOLBA?
AG: Some of the most exciting programs I have been responsible for this year include partnerships with different organizations like the Aspen Institute and Next City.
The partnerships are part of an initiative that includes hosting a series of events to create social and intellectual settings that connect bright minds from the academic, private and public sectors.
Through these events we expect to elevate the conversation and find solutions to some of our city’s most pressing issues. Also, New Orleans will be able to position itself as a city of thought leaders and a home to best practices in economic development.
Through the Next City partnership we hosted the Vanguard Conference. This is an experiential urban leadership gathering for the best and brightest young urban leaders working to improve cites across sectors. Our program included showcasing the Cultural Innovation District, Brandan Odums “B-Mike”, and panels to discuss topics such as affordable housing.
With the Aspen Institute we will bring to New Orleans the Socrates Salon Program. Through this we expect to have thought leaders explore how emerging technology trends are impacting education, business and society. The event will take place in New Orleans from October 11 to 12.
ULI: What are you most passionate about in regard to the future of our city?
AG: New Orleans is a city that fascinates me in many different levels: from its richness in history and culture, to its architecture and neighborhood identity. New Orleans is a city with character like no other place in the US. But what really makes New Orleans is the diversity of its people. My passion has been working to promote economic and community development while maintaining and supporting our diversity.