In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we are putting the spotlight on Draper and Kramer’s Chief Investment Officer Blas Puzon, a native of the Philippines.
Blas Puzon knows that important things take time. It was a lesson he learned as a child from his family’s 12-year journey to U.S. citizenship after emigrating from the Philippines when he was one year old. Today, after a long professional journey of his own, Blas serves as Draper and Kramer’s chief investment officer, overseeing the firm’s $1.5 billion in assets.
Blas started off in the real estate industry as a civil engineer, designing infrastructure such as storm water management systems for large developments. While he enjoyed the work, he felt increasingly drawn to the financial side of the industry. So, he returned to school to pursue his MBA and, later, his CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation. Those credentials soon landed him an investment role with a national multifamily owner-operator in Seattle, where he worked for 15 years before relocating to Chicago and joining Draper and Kramer five years ago.
When you consider both his personal and professional “long game” achievements, it’s not surprising one word people use to describe Blas is “resilient” – along with “curious” and “optimistic.”
Draper and Kramer’s president and CEO Todd Bancroft said, “Blas is a critical member of our executive team. He brings a different perspective, energy and a unique set of experiences that really adds to the dynamics of our company.”
While finance and investments are his professional passion, Blas says his favorite part about his job is actually the people with whom he works – and particularly those he has the opportunity to mentor. “It’s a very powerful motivator for me to help people develop, acquire new skills and continually improve,” he said. “I love to see people coming up with new ideas and setting new goals.”
Personally, “goals” are a big part of the Puzon family – soccer goals, that is. Blas’s two daughters play on a travel soccer team, so much of his weekend time is spent driving to and attending their games. And it was a school project for one of his daughters that gave Blas an even deeper appreciation for his parents’ dedication to coming to the U.S. and the importance of staying connected to his Filipino heritage. “In helping her prepare for this presentation, we interviewed my mom together and I gained a much greater appreciation for the sacrifices my parents made to give us a better life,” he said.
He added, “One of the best ways that I’ve maintained cultural ties is through the food. I love to cook and am known for my Filipino dinners. I learned to cook Filipino food from my mom, and now I am passing that tradition on to my daughters.”