The president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, officially inaugurated Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi on December 3, 2015. The hospital is one of the international operations of the Cleveland Clinic, widely regarded as one of the top hospital systems in the world.
As you can imagine, the Abu Dhabi project took a lot of expertise and ingenuity. For three years (2010 to 2013), Rob Gallo, while working for the consulting firm Accenture, oversaw a team that helped make the hospital the success it has become. “They brought us in to help them stand up their organizational structure, technology systems, and adapt a US-based healthcare system to the UAE,” Rob said. “We provided advisory services from software selection and implementation, clinical practices, billing, and financials. It was an interesting project because they were trying to replicate the look and feel of the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland and bring that to the Middle East. We really felt we were making an enormous difference because we were helping to develop a healthcare model for their country.” While Rob was working at the hospital, his wife, Ashley, was teaching English at a local school and planting the seeds of her future career as a travel advisor.
One of the people on Rob’s Abu Dhabi team was fellow Accenture employee (and current PassiveInvesting.com managing partner) Danny Randazzo. (Rob and Danny also worked together at Deloitte.) “Danny had expressed an interest in working overseas,” Rob said. “He was the right person with the right skills and the right tenacity to help us get what we needed done. What sets Danny apart is that when he sets his mind to something, he doesn’t stop until it is accomplished; and he does it in a friendly way. Plus, he’s a great negotiator.”
The Next Level of Investor Interaction
A few years later, through Danny, Rob was introduced to Dan Handford. “I’ve been investing in real estate with Danny first and then Dan for over ten years,” Rob said. “I would check in with their team occasionally, and say, ‘Hey, it would be great to work together in another capacity.’ Things lined up over the past two months. They told me Andrew (Davis) was transitioning, and they’d like to talk to me to see if this would be a good fit. A lot of my background in consulting is understanding what a patient/consumer wants to experience, feel, and how they want to be communicated with. I’m excited to bring that same consumer approach to PassiveInvesting.com and be part of the team that takes us to the next level in terms of our interaction with our investors and the growth of the company.”
Making People’s Lives Better
Rob has a long history of understanding what people need to make their lives better. In July 2005, right out of college, where he earned a BSBA in Marketing and International Business from Washington University in St. Louis, Rob worked for the healthcare software company Epic Systems. Although it was a good job, he didn’t enjoy it. As he was waiting for his non-compete to expire, he took advantage of his time by teaching English in ‘the middle of nowhere China.’ When he came back to the States, Rob went to work for Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago in their IT department. It was there he fell in love with the idea of process improvement. “I wanted to make the physicians’, nurses’, and patients’ lives better by making the software run smoother and more efficient,” he said.
In 2010, he got into healthcare consulting with Accenture, where he created business plans and designed and implemented technology systems for complex healthcare organizations.
“There were $100M to $250M investments in software, so a lot was riding on it,” Rob said. “Plus, I was very involved with the financials of organizations to help determine direction. I was able to utilize my experience with the market and my MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to help determine what investments are going to be the highest rate of return. Should they open a new inpatient tower versus another outpatient facility that has diagnostic imaging? What’s going to be your capital cost vs operating? How will your bond rating be impacted by this type of investment? What type of revenue are you going to be achieving? What’s your breakeven point? Bottom line, it’s always been about how we can improve things for the hospital, the employees, and the patients.”
The Real Estate Bug
Rob was first bitten by the real estate bug in 2008 when his sister Molly asked him to help her and her husband, flip a few houses they bought. “It was really just manual labor,” Rob said. “It was a ‘come and help us paint and take a wall down’ kind of thing. But it was fun. We then bought a few Airbnb properties in the Union Pier and the New Buffalo area of Michigan. That’s when I began to take investing in real estate more seriously.”
It was also around this time when he started taking part in real estate deals with Danny and Dan. “I remember the first time that I had a conversation with Danny about investing,” he said. “Because I had known him for so long and knew his values, the trust was there. When Dan and Danny are given money to invest, they are 100% above board and have their investors’ best interests at heart. They are fully transparent and communicate everything. They exude a level of trust that makes you extremely comfortable. You know that they’re going to do what they say they’re going to do. And that’s not always the case in this industry.”
Making it Easy
As a director of investor relations, Rob oversees the investor relations team and the investor services team who do the backend processing. He’s also in charge of special projects designed to make the processes within PassiveInvesting.com more efficient. Delighted about joining the PassiveInvesting.com Team, his big-picture focus is to make sure investors are communicated with effectively and stay happy. “PassiveInvesting.com is meticulous in terms of underwriting to make sure that the investments are sound, that they have the necessary level of cash flow to meet our requirements and hit our growth targets,” Rob said. “Plus, as an investor, you’re not treated as someone that sends in money and then you never hear from us again. It’s constant communication with a focus on making our investors feel comfortable. We’re making sure that they understand the process of investing in a specific asset class. In speaking with investors my first week, all of them said that it’s what differentiates us from other operators in the market.”
Another reason he’s so excited about joining the PassiveInvesting.com Team is the working environment they’ve created. “The culture that I have experienced so far is phenomenal,” Rob said. “Everyone genuinely enjoys working with each other. Even though I’m new, I got a great feel of the camaraderie that exists. At my first in-person meeting, you could tell that everyone is comfortable with each other, and they like each other. Dan’s leadership style fully supports this, as he makes it a point to know everyone personally and has an open-door policy for any associate. His goal is to surround himself with a great team who are highly skilled at their jobs, and he’s been able to do that.”
Marco, Taylor, Emily, and Aspen
Rob leads an investors relation team of four, who focus on serving investors. “I can’t wait to get in front of investors with (investor relations associates) Marco (Tripalo) and Taylor (Cu),” Rob said. “They are professional and in tune with what’s going on in the market and how it’s impacting our business. They are highly competent. At the end of the day, this is a relationship business. Investors want to deal with people they like. It’s critical for our business to have Marco and Taylor in those roles. It’s another piece that sets us apart. It’s something my predecessor Andrew started which has allowed us to not only be successful now but also into the future. The same thing applies to our investor services team, Emily (Mooneyham) and Aspen (Morgan). They’ve known the answer to every question I’ve asked. They’re great at responding to questions from our investors. If they don’t have the answer immediately, they send a message back saying, ‘I don’t know the answer. I’ll do some research and get back to you ASAP.’ Our investors want to know that there’s someone in their corner helping them out and it’s not just some automated message at the end of the call. Both teams are really, really good.”
Siena & Hayden Gallo
The Investor Perspective
What can investors expect from Rob? “First and foremost, they have a person who’s sitting inside the firm that looks at everything from an investor’s perspective,” Rob said. “I’m investing in every deal. So, I have a pretty good idea of how our investors feel and the communication and interaction they desire. I know what keeps them up in the middle of the night and how they want to be communicated with about their investments. I want them to know that when Rob Gallo’s on the end of the phone or email, I hear them, and they know I’m looking out for them. I love to talk about long-term investing and passive investing. I’m not a certified financial advisor but, like most of our investors, my entire life I’ve thought about the best way to achieve financial freedom, so you can travel and do what you truly want to do in life. In that way, we are kindred spirits. We are an organization that truly has the best interests of our investors at heart. You can see it in our track record and how we interact with our investors.”
Rob and Ashley live in Lake Bluff, Illinois, which is on the north shore of Chicago, with their two children, Hayden, eight, and Siena, four, along with their pound rescue dog, Zara. Ashley works as a travel advisor (she’s a Middle East expert, as well as a few other areas) for Royal Travel based out of Chicago.
Results that Speak for Themselves
Rob is looking forward to helping PassiveInvesting.com and their investors meet all their business and personal goals for years to come. “Five years from now, I see all of our portfolios in the billion-dollar valuation range,” Rob said. “We’ll have probably added one or two more asset classes and we’ll be recognized as one of the premier real estate investing organizations. For the people who have invested with us and even the people who haven’t invested with us, our reputation, brand, and results will speak for themselves. We want to make investing with us easy. We want to provide a superior experience for every one of our investors as we continue to grow and reach new heights.”