30 Oct VT Alumni Speak About The Lost Art of the Deal


John Lawson (left) and Donald McNamara (right) said that recent graduates should be proactive, not reactive, and be able to make quick decisions, whether they’re right or wrong.

Virginia Tech alumni John Lawson and Donald McNamara spoke to a packed house about the Lost Art of the Deal on Friday, October 23.

John Lawson, President and CEO of W.M. Jordan Company, and Donald McNamara, Chairman of Hampstead Holdings, highly successful real estate entrepreneurs, spoke to students about real estate investment and development.

Lawson spoke of a highly successful real estate development called the Virginia Tech Hampton Roads Centers in Newport News and Virginia Beach. Lawson was inspired by the success of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, VA and knew that there was an unmet need for educational services in the Hampton Roads region. Collaborating with Virginia Tech, Lawson was able to bring the innovative project to life over a two-year time period.

When asked what was important for recent graduates to know when trying to become a successful entrepreneur, Lawson emphasized a willingness to make quick decisions, whether they are right or wrong, and being decisive in all situations.

McNamara spoke about his revolutionary development in Dallas, TX that had a tremendous impact on the city. The development transformed a neighborhood with the highest crime per capita in the district to one of the most desirable places to live for young people in Dallas, now referred to as Uptown.

McNamara bought a large piece of land from Southland Corporation after it filed for bankruptcy. He developed the east side first with a goal of lower density development. Later, he sold the holdings on the east side to fund west side development.

The west side was developed with the intention to increase density while approaching I-75. This was the first successful urban mixed-use project in Dallas.

When asked the same question as Lawson, what is important for recent graduates to know when trying to become a successful entrepreneur, McNamara stressed the need to be proactive and not reactive. He spoke about not sitting on the sidelines when big decisions are being made, but being involved in every step of the way.

Written by Rory Halligan of Manchester, Vermont, a junior Communication Studies major in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.