When Wyatt Krapf left Tampa to study at the University of Miami, he had every intention of becoming an engineer.
He liked to look at complex problems and find solutions. He liked the idea of building.
Nearly 10 years later, that hasn’t changed. What has changed is his career path.
Rather than pursuing civil engineering after graduation, Krapf went into finance and today is a senior vice president at the Tampa office of Hodges Ward Elliott, an Atlanta-based boutique real estate capital markets advisor. In his role, he focuses on hotel capital markets and investments. He started at HFF, where he spent six years, and then moved to Berkadia in Tampa. He started at Hodges Ward Elliott in January.
According to his official bio, he has closed more than $4 billion “of debt/equity placement and investment sale transactions since 2014.”
“I think my true passion lies in understanding how buildings feed into the ecosystem of an economy and looking at them through more of a financial perspective than just a black and white building perspective,” he says. “Looking back, I think that's how I settled into it and, fortunately, enjoyed it so much.”
Coming out of college, Krapf was offered a job as structural engineer on the construction of nuclear power plant. But it was being built “in the middle of nowhere” and he wanted to be in Miami.
Krapf says it was his father’s lessons, taught during their daily drives to the school bus stop, that helped drive what happened next.
“Everything would come back to… never take anything for granted,” he says. “You are fortunate with the opportunities that we have in this country. Any chance you have to do something that you love or that you think might help somebody else, do it. And never wonder what if.”
What happened next is that he pursued a job at HFF, a commercial real estate investment capital firm bought by JLL in 2019. He knew next to nothing about finance — or what it took to be successful — but figured he could “fall back” on engineering if things didn’t work out.
He read two textbooks on finance, went through a grueling interview process. He got the job.
Krapf’s curiosity drives him beyond real estate.
A Tampa Bay Lightning fan, he says ice hockey looked fun and decided to learn how to play. Last summer, he bought the gear, took lessons and now plays in a league.
That same energy pushed him to become an active member of the community, from sitting on a board that promotes art in schools to helping younger professionals deal with imposter syndrome.
And, in taking on leadership role, Krapf says his mentor Andrew W. Smith helped him grow, instilling confidence and helping him through difficulties.
“He's always the first call because he's always been there to help me,” Krapf says. “And he's always empowered me to continue to grow. And that really has benefited through work through outside of work with nonprofits and everything in between.”