Meet the team

Andres Szita [Chairman]

Andres Szita is a co-founder and Chairman of Laurus Corporation. Since the inception of Laurus Corporation in 1999, he has been successful in providing accredited investors, developers, and high net worth individuals a wide variety of real estate investment vehicles and development services. Through these operations, the company established and expanded business relations and over $2.4 billion in real estate transaction experience in the hospitality industry, office, multifamily, mixed-use, and overall development. Beyond that, the firm has over $2.6 billion in real estate development service experience. Prior to Laurus Corporation, Mr. Szita was an executive in a European apparel manufacturing business, Tassio-Italy. During his tenure, he managed the firm’s international distribution and franchising, public relations and marketing, manufacturing, and product development. Prior to this, Mr. Szita was a partner in an apparel manufacturing corporation where among his responsibilities he led the organization’s real estate development. Later, in response to a changing manufacturing environment, Mr. Szita led the strategic merger of the company with a large publicly traded corporation where he was also a Board Member. An entrepreneur at heart, Mr. Szita has built a vast array of contacts and strategic relationships with investors, developers, lenders and overall active members of the real estate community, both domestically and internationally.

   

Jean Paul Szita [President & Chief Financial Officer]

Jean Paul Szita is a co-founder and President & Chief Financial Officer of Laurus Corporation. Since co-founding Laurus Corporation in 1999, he has been involved with over $2.4 billion in real estate transaction experience in the hospitality industry, multifamily, office, mixed-use, and land development industries, as well as over $2.6 billion in real estate development service experience. Prior to Laurus Corporation, Mr. Szita was Director of the Board in a European apparel manufacturing business, Tassio-Italy, where he led the internal re-structuring of processes, was key in implementing cash flow management techniques, and was involved in all aspects of budget and performance control. Prior to this experience, Mr. Szita was the Chief Operation Manager in an upscale manufacturing plant, where he managed over 100 employees in the areas of information systems, warehouse operations, production, purchasing, and logistics operations. The results of his efforts included a 38% increase in production, reduction of costs, and overall increase in the production cycle, which resulted in a significant increase in profits for the firm. In response to a changing manufacturing environment, Mr. Szita was a key player in the strategic merger of the company with a large publicly traded corporation where he was also a Board Member advisor.

   

Philip Cyburt [Chief Executive Officer]

Philip W. Cyburt joins Laurus Corporation as Chief Executive Officer with over 26 years of real estate experience. Together with the founders, Mr. Cyburt leads the organization to ensure that the quality of each investment fulfills the greatest potential for investors and aligns with Laurus’ strategy. His career has engaged him to work closely with a wealth of well positioned contacts in the banking and real estate industries both nationally and internationally. Mr. Cyburt’s breadth of skills and knowledge in corporate restructuring, capital investment, acquisition, development, and disposition of billions of dollars in real estate transactions brings tremendous value to Laurus Corporation. Among his various prestigious roles, Mr. Cyburt has been a senior executive with two Fortune 500 companies, where he was responsible for the management of vast global real estate and development portfolios. His institutional real estate responsibilities have included: corporate and structured finance; transaction structuring; debt/equity formation and negotiations; strategic planning; portfolio valuation and feasibility studies; as well as residential and commercial development.

Prior to Laurus Corporation, Mr. Cyburt, as Managing Director of Alvarez and Marsal, LLC, served as interim CEO of Lehman Brothers Holdings real estate division, where he managed their debt and equity portfolio consisting of over $23 billion of assets. He co-founded Cyburt Hall Partners, where as Managing Director he acted as an investor, developer, and operator for approximately $250 million of real estate investments. As President of Boeing Realty Corporation, he successfully directed the company’s real estate portfolio ($9 billion in assets comprising of 125 million square feet in 26 states and 63 countries). In addition, Mr. Cyburt spear headed Boeing’s relocation of its world headquarters from Seattle to Chicago. He was also elected as President of McDonnell Douglas Realty Company, which serviced and restructured a $750 million commercial real estate loan portfolio in the early 1990’s. The portfolio consisted of nonperforming loans and REO properties including office, industrial, retail, and hotels located throughout the United States. Early in his career, he was also Director at Tishman Realty and Construction. Mr. Cyburt has a B.S. degree from Chapman University, attended graduate courses at Chapman University, Pepperdine University Executive MBA Program, and the investment real estate certificate program at University of Irvine.

   

Austin Khan [Chief Investment Officer]

Austin Khan is Chief Investment Officer of Laurus Corporation with the completion of over $2 billion in real estate transactions in both principal and advisory roles over the past 13 years under his belt. Mr. Khan’s extensive experience in the hospitality, office, retail and multifamily sectors has positioned him as an expert in the commercial real estate arena. He is responsible for sourcing and managing opportunities for Laurus as well as overseeing the underwriting process for all investments. Prior to joining Laurus Corporation, Mr. Khan was Vice President of Acquisitions for the primary real estate and hospitality investment platform for TRT Holdings, a diversified private investment firm that manages approximately $5 billion in assets on behalf of Robert Rowling, the 66th ranked individual in the Forbes 400. In this role, he led the global sourcing for new investment deals while staying on track with acquisition strategy. His efforts were also utilized in managing capital market relationships on behalf of the firm. Mr. Khan was a key player in completing such landmark transactions as the acquisition of the real estate assets of the Amelia Island Company, the development of the 1,000-key Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel and the recapitalization of the 720-key Champions Gate Resort in Orlando. Prior to that, Mr. Khan was a Real Estate Acquisitions Manager for the Palmetto Hospitality Fund on behalf of its development affiliate, OTO Development, where he focused on acquisitions and ground-up development of mid-scale and upscale hotels in the Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and Hyatt families of brands. Mr. Khan started his real estate finance career in investment banking as part of the leisure, lodging and gaming group at Bank of America Securities and the Real Estate Capital Markets Group of Andersen Corporate Finance, a broker-dealer subsidiary of Arthur Andersen, LLP. Mr. Khan received his MBA with concentrations in Finance and Real Estate from Columbia Business School and a B.S. in Commerce from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. He is also a Certified Public Accountant.

   

Thuong Luong [VP Portfolio Management]

Thuong Luong serves as VP of Portfolio Management with a wealth of experience in underwriting and structuring investments. Ms. Luong participates in the underwriting investment process and is also responsible for other finance related matters. Ms. Thuong has experience working on buy-side equity investments, sell-side advisory on debt raising, private placement, IPOs, and leveraged buyouts in the financial services industry. Prior to joining Laurus Corporation, Ms. Luong was with a private equity firm Asset Management Finance, LLC (“AMF”), a New York based alternative investment subsidiary of Credit Suisse Group that focuses on investing in both traditional and alternative asset managers. At AMF, Ms. Luong was responsible for company research, structuring and underwriting, and monitoring of AMF’s 18 portfolio investments with total invested capital of US$500 million. Before joining AMF, Ms. Luong was an investment banker at U.S. based Deutsche Bank Securities Group where she assisted in the development of Deutsche Bank’s asset management sector coverage and was involved in multi-billion dollar capital raising and M&A advisory services transactions. Ms. Luong’s philanthropic activities include co-founding Vital Corporate Advisors, a non-profit organization that focuses on providing financial advisory services to microfinance institutions in South East Asia and serving as an independent board member for an Asian microfinance institution. She received her Bachelor of Science in Finance & International Business from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business with honors.

   

BJ Turner [Vice President Capital Markets]

BJ Turner is Vice President Capital Markets for Laurus Corporation, where he is responsible for sourcing domestic and international equity. Prior to joining Laurus, Mr. Turner served as Vice President at Fifth Avenue Real Estate. Mr. Turner is a globally experienced business leader with a proven track record across a wide range of hotel, resort, residential, and mixed-use real estate segments. He has built, trained, and led cross-functional teams that successfully executed market entry strategies into Canada, Southeast Asia, Mexico and the United States, while partnering with many of the world’s leading development and brokerage firms. In doing so, he has worked with many of the industry’s most prominent brands such as Hard Rock Hotels, Trump, Raffles, Fairmont, Jack Nicklaus Design and Troon Golf. Over the course of his career, Mr. Turner and his teams have facilitated the sale of over $650 million of real estate and has collaborated with development and real estate asset management firms such as Intrawest, Kingdom Hotel Investments, Tarsadia Hotels, and Boutique Hotels & Resorts Corp. Mr. Turner’s educational background includes a Masters of Business Administration from the S.C. Johnson School of Business at Cornell University, a Bachelor of Science and an Executive Sales and Marketing Management Diploma from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. He is also a licensed Real Estate Salesperson in California and British Columbia, Canada.

   

Salomon Zaga [Vice President Capital Markets - Latin America]

Mr. Salomon Zaga is Laurus Corporation’s Vice President Capital Markets, Latin America. At Laurus, Mr. Zaga is responsible for establishing strategic relationships, fund-raising, and investor relation activities in Latin America. With over 12 years of business experience, Mr. Zaga has advised high net-worth families across Mexico with respect to a variety of investment opportunities in both the private and public markets, including real estate. His financial background allows him to create different equity-debt scenarios and structures for various acquisition and investment vehicles, while defining platforms for varying risk profiles. Prior to Laurus, Mr. Zaga was CEO of the manufacturing division of Grupo Miro, a prominent textile group based in Mexico that exports over 5 million garments to recognized brands across the world. With his own family office he has also invested and participated in the development of numerous retail and commercial real estate projects throughout Mexico. Mr. Zaga holds a degree in Business Administration from Universidad Iberoamericana and a Masters in Finance from Universidad Anahuac.

   

Gene Ong [VP of Project Management]

Gene Ong joined Laurus Corporation as its VP of Project Management, and is a seasoned hospitality development executive with over 20 years of experience in project management, architecture, and interior design for major hotel projects throughout the country.

Gene’s varied responsibilities during his career have included due diligence, feasibility studies, asset management, design management, value engineering, RFP preparation, contract negotiations, supplier relations, and overall project management throughout all project phases. While Director of Project Management and Development for Hilton and Marriott Vacation Club, he was responsible for the overall direction of all projects for the company on the West Coast.   Gene earned his Bachelor of Architecture in 1993 from the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California and has focused exclusively on hospitality development and design since 1998.

   

John Harounian [Vice President Business Development]

Mr. Harounian serves as the Vice President of Business Development for Laurus with over 23 years of experience, 13 of those years focused in large-scale commercial real estate investments. Mr. Harounian is responsible for establishing strategic relationships, sourcing potential acquisition and/or disposition opportunities, managing the pipeline, and coordinating joint venture opportunities. Prior to joining Laurus Corporation in 2009, Mr. Harounian was Vice President at Maram Holdings, a real estate investment management firm with a portfolio valued at more than $2.5 billion, where he led the asset management and acquisitions teams including entitlement and disposition of the real estate portfolio. During his tenure at Maram Holdings, he originated over $122 million in dispositions and managed approximately $400 million in commercial property assets. Prior to Maram Holdings, he was the Managing Director for Brooks Fabric, the 4th largest privately owned upholstery fabric distribution house in the USA, where he led his team in streamlining operations and identifying strategic growth opportunities which increased annual sales by 400% within five years. Mr. Harounian has extensive business experience in Asian countries; he is fluent in English, Farsi, and proficient in Indonesian.

   

Maureen Cohen [Vice President of Development]

Maureen Cohen serves as Vice President of Development for Laurus Corporation. She brings with her more than 30 years of in-depth real estate development experience, encompassing nearly all product types beginning with land use planning and entitlements, horizontal infrastructure, public utility formation and operations, Mello Roos Bond financing, CFD’s, subdivision mapping, and vertical construction of single family and multifamily communities. Ms. Cohen has directed the development of several business parks and managed the construction of over 2.5 million square feet of industrial tilt-up, mid and hi-rise commercial office buildings, and residential condominiums, as well she has managed the renovation and repositioning of one of the largest apartment portfolios in Los Angeles. She has renovated branded hospitality assets acquired by Laurus Corporation, where she has also been involved in the acquisitions and dispositions of resort properties in Mexico. Prior to joining Laurus Corporation in 2005, Ms. Cohen has worked for such notable developers as Sheldon Appel, Jeff Greene, and Rob Glass. Maureen attended Western Washington University and she has also completed numerous courses in the certificate programs at UCLA for Real Estate, Development, and Construction Management. She has been a licensed real estate agent and general contractor.

   

Konstantin Daskalov [Vice President of Construction]

Konstantin Daskalov serves as Vice President of Construction for Laurus Corporation. He brings over 15 years of broad experience in real estate development, construction management, financial operations, and asset management and has directed several major high-rise development projects in Chicago, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Mr. Daskalov directs the development process including due diligence, asset evaluation, design development, asset upgrades, project management, risk and cost control and asset disposition. Prior to joining Laurus Corporation, Mr. Daskalov was Director of Investments & Development at Stoneleigh Companies in charge of investments, strategic acquisitions, asset management, optimization and development. Prior to Stoneleigh, Konstantin was Vice President of Development at Fifield Realty Corp. where he spearheaded the development and construction operations for the firm’s West Coast Operations, directing the development of several high-rise projects with average development cost of over $200 Million. Mr. Daskalov has an M.S./MBA degree from Northwestern University, a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Bachelor in Business Management degrees from Calvin College. He is a member of a variety of professional organizations in Real Estate, Engineering and Finance and participates actively in discussion forums for numerous professional panels.

   

Charles Russo [Asset Manager]

Charles Russo serves Laurus Corporation as Asset Manager, and comes to Laurus as an investment committee member with over 12 years of institutional real estate finance, acquisitions and investment advisory experience. In his career he has underwritten, acquired and managed aggregate real estate transactions totaling over $1 billion. Mr. Russo provides situational real estate advisory, acquisitions and asset management services for institutional and high net worth investors, as well as, foreign funds. He is adept in distressed and opportunistic situations directing asset management, financial analysis and reporting, including bankruptcy workout experience. Mr. Russo also has developed significant expertise in solving complex TIC ownership problems in the current cycle. Previously he was an Associate Director with the debt group of GE Capital Real Estate, in Los Angeles as a member of their institutional commercial finance originations platform. In this capacity, he was responsible for the underwriting and financial analysis of commercial mortgages and acquisition debt financing for REIT’s and real estate principals. Prior to joining GE Capital Real Estate, Mr. Russo was an Associate at Thor Equities in New York City and was responsible for originating and identifying acquisition opportunities for the firm’s $375 million private equity Urban Property Fund. During his tenure at Thor, the high yield fund successfully executed numerous key acquisitions increasing their footprint across premier domestic urban markets. Before Thor Equities, Mr. Russo was a Financial Analyst with Morgan Stanley in New York focusing on securities products. He has also received FDIC clearance to consult on projects through various FDIC subcontractors. Mr. Russo earned a Certificate in General Business Studies with an Accounting Concentration from UCLA and completed a Management Development Program (MDP) at USC’s Marshall School of Business. Mr. Russo also holds a Certificate in Real Estate Finance and Investment from NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate and a Bachelor of Arts from Trinity College (CT). He is actively involved with the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and ICSC NextGen.

   

Betty Jones [Revenue Asset Manager]

Betty Jones serves Laurus Corporation as Revenue Asset Manager. A 25-year veteran in the hospitality industry, Ms. Jones has established herself as a results-driven executive known for her ability to motivate and mobilize her sales teams to achieve the best possible results and drive revenue. Prior to joining Laurus, Ms. Jones, worked with Remington where she signed on as the company’s regional director of sales and marketing in 1993. In 1994, she became the Vice President of Sales & Marketing Limited Service where she managed and directed Limited Service Regional Directors of Sales and monitored total revenues of over 70 properties. Within the next few years she was promoted to Vice President of Transient Sales, and then again in 2001 to Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing where she managed and directed the Divisional Directors of Sales, Directors of Revenue, Sales Auditors and the IT department.

Ms. Jones has also acquired extensive luxury hotel and resort expertise. She served as Director of Sales and Marketing for LeMeridien Cancun Resort & Spa and Secrets The Vine in Cancun, Mexico. In her role with Laurus Corporation, Ms. Jones will be responsible assisting and increasing revenue performance and strategies for the hospitality assets. Ms. Jones holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock.

   

Ameya Shinde [Asset Manager]

Ameya Shinde serves Laurus Corporation as an Asset Manager with a focus on the hotel portfolio. Mr. Shinde oversees the asset’s financial performance and provides asset level management on capex & renovation decisions at the property; in addition Mr. Shinde also focuses on developing third-party relationship for Laurus with brands, hotel operators and lenders.

Mr. Shinde comes to Laurus with over 8 years of experience at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. During his tenure at Starwood he has been involved in multiple facets of real estate development at Starwood’s corporate headquarters. In his last role Mr. Shinde was responsible for underwriting management and acquisitions opportunities for Starwood comprising of over $200M+ of key money and/or equity investments. Prior to that, Mr. Shinde played an integral role in developing value within Starwood’s $3B+ hotel portfolio from repositioning/renovating properties to asset dispositions. Mr. Shinde also has experience with mixed-use assets, such as, hotels with branded residences and condo-hotels, and was involved in evaluating, underwriting and closing over 20 mixed-use projects, amounting to over $150M in license fees for Starwood. Mr. Shinde received his MBA with concentration in Finance from NYU’s Stern School of Business and a B.S. in Computer Science from State University of New York at Buffalo.

   

Timothy Kim [Director Business Development - Korea]

Timothy J. Kim is the Director of Business Development in Korea for Laurus Corporation. His extensive experience as an entrepreneur and business developer lays the foundation into bridging relations in South Korea and Asia. Prior to Laurus Corporation, Mr. Kim is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Natural Energy Resources (NER). Mr. Kim deals with worldwide governmental projects that specialize in the cutting edge future of alternative energy in Korea, China, Malaysia, South-East Asia, and African country. Mr. Kim has the experience in business which was propelled by his dream to make the life’s of others richer and fulfilled. Mr. Kim established vast network of people throughout Asia, U.S., Europe and African countries. As a Korean American, Mr. Kim contributes his expertise and relationship built on countless transaction in international trading of import and export in various commodities.

   

Frederique Calluaud [Marketing Manager]

Frederique Calluaud is the Marketing Manager and brings with her over 16 years of marketing experience, with more than 15 of years in real estate. As Marketing Manager for Laurus Investments, Ms. Calluaud manages the day to day public relations, property image, brand equity, and preparation of marketing materials for the fund and individual assets. Prior to joining Laurus Corporation in 2005, Ms. Calluaud was the Marketing Manager at Sleiman Enterprises in Jacksonville, one of Northern Florida’s largest commercial real estate developers. Her responsibilities at Sleiman included the preparation of all marketing materials as well as specialized marketing to corporate real estate managers in order to increase credit tenancy and reposition large commercial assets. Her experience spans from working with small tenant needs, to marketing to big-box clients, to hotels and resorts. Ms. Calluaud received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Information Systems and minors in French and Spanish from Baylor University, and is a licensed Real Estate Broker in California.

   

Dasha Holubec [Investor Relations Manager]

Dasha Holubec, Investor Relations Manager, maintains Laurus Corporation’s development and investor relations efforts. Utilizing her 11 years’ experience in real estate marketing, investment and development, Ms. Holubec is an integral part of Laurus’s team and a consummate client relationship expert. She started her career in marketing at CB Richard Ellis where she was part of a top producing industrial team brokering sales and leases in Southern California. She later transitioned into real estate investment with Granite Peak Partners of Santa Barbara, presenting acquisition and disposition opportunities to investors and brokers. Most recently, Ms. Holubec was at Western National Group, a premier multifamily real estate company, where she was involved in the kick-off through completion of seven multifamily new development properties comprised of more than 200 units. With her considerable ability to manage projects and communicate effectively with both internal and external constituents, she played a lead role implementing the vision and the timely development of all residential amenities. Ms. Holubec earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and is fluent in Czech.

   

Eli Mahl [Senior Associate]

Eli Mahl is Senior Associate for Laurus Corporation, with over 6 years of real estate experience. He conducts the underwriting for prospective acquisitions, assists with the due diligence of pending closings, helps monitor the existing portfolio, and provides value-add scenarios. As a result of Mr. Mahl’s institutional finance background, he also helps source debt for potential acquisitions and refinancing Laurus’ portfolio.

Prior to joining Laurus, Mr. Mahl was with Wells Fargo’s Commercial Real Estate Group. During his tenure, he provided underwriting for multiple relationships totaling over $8.2 billion in assets and underwrote $406 million in closed debt transactions across the United States. Originations included all product types via debt recapitalization, lines of credit, construction loans, and perm loans. Mr. Mahl was also tasked with quarterly loan monitoring for existing loans and annual financial reviews for each relationship. Mr. Mahl began his career in 2008 with Combined Properties, a shopping center and mixed-use developer, in a hybrid leasing and development role. While at Combined, Mr. Mahl assisted in the leasing of 12 shopping centers, ranging from 28,000 – 213,000 square feet, by completing over $6 million in retail transactions. He also identified and provided analysis for value-add scenarios within the existing portfolio. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelors of Science in Public Policy, Planning, and Development with a focus in Real Estate Development in 2008 and with a Masters of Urban Planning in 2009 with an emphasis in Economic Development.

   

Yasmine Tamjidi [Sr. Manager of Corporate Finance & Accounting]

Yasmine Tamjidi is Laurus Corporation’s Senior Manager of Corporate Finance & Accounting with more than five years of real estate experience. Her duties include overseeing the daily operations of general accounting and financial reporting of all intercompany and the investment portfolio; she also assists the acquisition team in transitioning new assets to ownership by maintaining closing budgets and analysis, further she manages and oversees asset level reporting to ensure timeliness and accuracy of reporting. Prior to Laurus, Ms. Tamjidi worked for a Business Management firm where she was a dedicated account manager for Teles Properties, a luxury real estate firm. During her tenure, she managed cash flows, assisted in budgeting, and directed her team to meet clients’ financial and operational needs. Before this Ms. Tamjidi began her career as an associate to two Certified Public Accountants and was in charge of internal accounting for their firm. Ms. Tamjidi is currently pursuing her MBAJ from Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business after completing her Bachelors in Business Management. Ms. Tamjidi’s philanthropic activities include volunteering for many Charity events including Ad Relief, John Wayne Cancer Institute, Cedar Sinai Board of Governors and raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while competing in the SD Rock & Roll Marathon and the Nation’s Triathlon.

   

Julia Nachman [Portfolio Manager]

Julia Nachman serves as Portfolio Manager for Laurus Corporation. Ms. Nachman participates in acquisition due diligence and financing, communicates with asset management and property management teams, and assists with financial review and investor reporting. Prior to joining Laurus Corporation, Ms. Nachman was with Colony Capital, a Santa Monica based real estate private equity firm. At Colony, Ms. Nachman was responsible for the restructuring and management of a non-performing loan portfolio with total unpaid principal balance of US$200 million. She received her MBA with a concentration in Real Estate from Columbia Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.