Former Whiteland resident achieves success as CFO

By Nancy Price

A former Whiteland resident’s passion for finance and real estate, combined with a strong work ethic and perseverance, has resulted in being named Chief Financial Officer for a commercial real estate company.

Michael Knott, who graduated from Whiteland High School in 1996, was recently named CFO at EQ Office, an office portfolio company wholly owned by Blackstone’s real estate funds.

“I’m truly excited to be joining EQ at such a pivotal time for the company and the industry,” Knott said. “EQ is pushing the boundaries of the traditional commercial real estate industry to shape how offices can accommodate customer workspace preferences and I look I look forward to helping manage the portfolio to increase value long-term.”

Knott, who said that although business has always been in his genes, admitted that he has always had more interest in the finance, economics and accounting aspects more than operations and entrepreneurship.

“Math and business always appealed to me, as did the complex issues in macroeconomics that elude simple black and white answers,” he said. “Finance and equity research in the commercial real estate space was a natural fit for my curiosities.”

Michael Knott. (Submitted photo)

After graduating from Indiana University in 2000 with a BA in economics and minors in business and mathematics, Knott spent several years studying for a rigorous exam process of graduate level finance material to receive the CFA designation of chartered financial analyst. During that same time, he was an investment banking analyst before going into research at Green Street Advisors, where he worked for 16 years, moving his way up to serving as managing director.

“It was fun to be part of a smaller growing firm and see it move through different phases of its life cycle and participate in some of the success,” Knott said. “I had many great experiences, interactions and relationships over the years with smart and oftentimes powerful people directing billions of dollars in real estate or securities investments. I owe a lot to great mentors both in and out of Green Street, great teammates and colleagues and my family.

“Now I’ve moved to the corporate side and as CFO many things are important, nothing more so than leadership but still analyzing and participating in the same industry but now from the inside out rather than outside in.”

Knott said his goals include leading the organization through changes in the industry, which include office real estate ownership, leasing, management and redevelopment; and help the company’s owner, Blackstone, deliver outstanding returns to its investors.

“Blackstone is the world’s largest real estate owner and is a titan in private equity,” Knott said. “The track record is terrific and we want to contribute to that performance in our corner of what they do.”

President and CEO of EQ Office, Lisa Picard, said that adding Knott to the executive leadership team aligns with the company’s goals and strategies.

“Michael has great rigor and financial acumen, intellectual curiosity and brings broad experience having worked with nearly every asset type. He’s had a front row seat in watching our industry change for nearly 20 years and will collaborate with EQ leadership in furthering our strategies for driving value throughout our current portfolio and future investments,” she said.

For more information on EQ office, go to eqoffice.com; to learn more about Blackstone, visit blackstone.com.