Susan Hudson-Wilson, the founder of real estate research firm Property & Portfolio Research (PPR), died unexpectedly on 5 October. The real estate entrepreneur and author, 60, succumbed to a severe cerebral aneurysm while on safari with her husband in Nairobi, Kenya, where she was cremated.
In his “On the Road” column, independent consultant Steve Felix – a long-time friend of Hudson-Wilson – wrote about her passing: “She was generous with her time and helped younger people grow. Susan gave a lot to the industry. She gave of herself, tirelessly, generously, caringly. Not everyone does. That's what makes her special in my mind.”
Prior to forming PPR in 1994, Hudson-Wilson worked at global real estate investment manager AEW Capital Management. “At AEW, I was something of a ‘nudgy’ employee,” Hudson-Wilson said in an interview with the Urban Land Institute (ULI). “I always wanted to do things my way.” Indeed, when AEW’s founder Peter Aldrich suggested she talk to an industrial psychologist, the psychologist asked her for how long she had wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Consequently, Hudson-Wilson decided to go into business for herself. She spun the research business out of AEW and established PPR, which works with domestic and foreign institutional investors in the real estate capital markets. PPR offers fundamental market research, as well as a portfolio analysis methodology applied to public and private debt and equity portfolios.
Hudson-Wilson ultimately sold PPR in 2002. She later became a member of the management committee for private equity real estate firm Hawkeye Partners.
Hawkeye’s founding partner Claudia Faust issued the following statement: “The Hawkeye family is deeply saddened over Susan Hudson-Wilson's sudden passing. Susan was a dear friend, confidant and mentor to us. Susan was with Hawkeye from the very beginning, when we set out to create an out-of-the box approach to establishing new real estate investment managers.”
Faust added: “We will miss her brilliant mind, her unwavering resolve and her ‘wicked’ sense of humour.”
Hudson-Wilson was a former chairman of the Pension Real Estate Association and was awarded the association’s Graaskamp Award for Research Excellence in 1995. She also founded the Real Estate Research Institute and was a trustee of ULI.
In her interview with the ULI, Hudson-Wilson discussed starting one’s own business: “If you have an idea and you can develop it into a marketable product, make sure you protect your intellectual capital rights. When you have a product to sell, beyond advice or transaction-related execution activities, you have a business that has capitalise-able value. You can’t put a multiple on people, but you can put a multiple on a product.”
Hudson-Wilson is survived by her husband, John Wilson, and their three children, Connor, Lehan and Grace.