As part of EDR’s Developing Leaders mentor program, launched in January, we are hosting webinars that enable prominent industry leaders to share their wisdom with the next generation.

On July 17, I was grateful to have two accomplished professionals whom I have enormous respect for:

Dan Spinogatti, Senior Vice President, Real Estate Services at EBI Consulting who started out as low man on the totem pole with a consulting firm in NJ up the road from the office where his dad worked in CRE development with Home Depot Northeast.



Holly Neber, CEO of AEI Consultants and the 2019 President of CREW (or Commercial Real Estate Women) Network…from humble beginnings at the age of 5 attending rallies to save the whales and harp seals with her environmental activist mother.


Here are a few highlights from the reflections of these two industry veterans

On who got you started on your career trajectory:

“I’ve had a few good mentors. First, my dad modeled a lot of things for me: ownership, accountability, authenticity, hard work ethic, how to deal with people….Anthony Buonicore from EDR is definitely a guy I look up to from my early days in the business. I’d see him present at Due Diligence at Dawn, and his passion, his energy, his interest in the business, his engagement, his personality, his sarcastic sense of humor and style really got me interested. He made due diligence and the business interesting. I remember sitting the DDD audience in Iselin, NJ years ago, watching the whole show go down and thinking ‘I want to do this as a career. I can do this.’” Dan Spinogatti

On the value of joining associations

“CREW Network has been a tremendous source of inspiration for me. All of my experiences at CREW have been because someone asked me, because someone saw something in me and pushed me to do things I never thought I would do: lead a committee, join the board, become president of the local chapter. I had no intention of being in leadership. It was never really my goal. It was because of other people in my career who saw those qualities in me. I always recommend people get involved in associations outside your work place because it really helps round you out and helps you validate what you’re experiencing at work.” Holly Neber

Asked what they like to see in junior staff as signs of someone with potential, worthy of nurturing for a leadership role, this is what Holly and Dan had to say. You might be a “rising star” if:

  • You take pride in your work (whatever level of work it is).
  • You care about your coworkers.
  • You care about your clients.
  • You care about outcomes.
  • You’re not afraid to try new things.
  • You’re curious about learning from experiences.
  • You’re interested in understanding clients’ needs.
  • You take ownership when you see something that can be improved (rather than expecting that things will be handled for you).
  • You’re passionate.
  • You’re persistent.
  • You get lit up and truly enjoy what you’re doing.
  • You go the extra mile without necessarily being asked.

On the importance of emotional intelligence:

“Beyond your hard work and the deadlines that keep coming, don’t forget about emotional intelligence and building relationships. Connecting with other coworkers and connecting with clients…that’s what will make your life more enriching, your days more beautiful and your career more fulfilling.” Holly Neber

Looking for books to read this summer? Here’s what Holly and Dan suggest:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown (on how to work with other people, set boundaries, communicate better, be a stronger team)

How to be a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Erwin McManus

The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life by Shawn Achor (great TED Talk)

Scaling Up, How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t (Rockefeller Habits 2.0) by Verne Harnish

iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing UP Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood by Jean Twenge

On what they wish they knew in their 20s:

 “Humility is important. Put others first and yourself second. It took me a while when I was starting out to shift into that mindset of ‘How can I be of service?’ and understanding my clients. Also, have grit. You may not be the smartest, and that’s ok. Be the most resourceful and be persistent.” Dan Spinogatti

“Folks should remember they’re building your professional reputation from Day One. Take pride in whatever role you’re in and invest in building your network…Everything you need in your career and in your life you have within you already and so the challenge is only to nurture those things and cultivate this and find people who will can do that with you so that you can blossom into the person you were meant to be.”  ~Holly Neber


If you missed what one attendee called “an open and honest account of the career path of two very accomplished/professional consultants,” and to hear Holly’s and Dan’s answers to these questions and more, listen to the replay.

  • What advice that you wish you knew when you were just starting out would you give young professionals today?
  • What are some of the critical skills or expertise that you find junior staff haven’t learned yet?
  • Other advice for those just starting out on how to structure your career, characteristics to embrace, and how to challenge yourself and leverage your strengths.


EDR wishes to thank EBI’s Dan Spinogatti and AEI’s Holly Neber for being so generous with their time and sharing their motivating words of wisdom with our audience.


EDR launched the mentor program in January 2019, and 15 pairs of mentors-mentees from environmental consulting firms and banks’ ERM departments are currently moving through the one-calendar year commitment. Our mentors are motivated by a desire to keep growing, to give back to the next generation. Some mentees joined the program seeking insight into how to become better technical experts. Others wanted business development advice. One needed help building a professional network and another is starting his own consulting firm. Many of this year’s mentees are young women looking for the guiding voice of veteran females, and some are just looking for an outside perspective beyond the walls of a small office.

“The training and mentoring I have received since joining my company has had such a positive impact on my career and as a person. Being able to pay that forward to a junior associate in the industry is very fulfilling.” ~ Class of 2019 mentor

During the webinar, Neber and Spinogatti shared personal stories of the positive impact mentors had on them. Anyone seeking more guidance from an industry veteran or looking to give their time to nurturing a young professional is invited to apply to the Class of 2020. The applications process, which opens in early January, will ask you to share your achievements, what motivates you to join a mentor program and your goals. More information is available here:

Developing Leaders Program