2019     PAST

Sam Zell is a global, industry-agnostic entrepreneur and investor. He has a long track record of turning around troubled companies and assets, leading industry consolidations, and bringing companies to the public markets. His current investments are in: energy, logistics, manufacturing, communications, healthcare, and real estate.

Sam is the Chairman of Equity Group Investments, the private investment firm he founded more than 45 years ago. He also chairs five companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange: Equity Residential, the largest apartment REIT in the country; Equity LifeStyle Properties, a manufactured home community and resort REIT; Equity Commonwealth, an office REIT; Covanta Holding Corporation, an international owner/operator of energy-from-waste and power generation facilities; and Anixter International Inc., a leading global provider of communications, security, and wire and cable products.

Sam also founded and chaired Equity Office Properties Trust, the largest office REIT until its 2007 sale for $39 billion in the largest leveraged buyout at the time. In addition, he introduced the first Brazilian and Mexican real estate companies, respectively, to the New York Stock Exchange through Equity International, a second private investment firm he founded to focus on real estate-related businesses in emerging markets.

Sam is an active philanthropist with a focus on entrepreneurial education. Through the Zell Family Foundation, he has led the sponsorship of several leading entrepreneurship programs, including: the Zell/Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business; the Zell Fellows Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management; and the Zell Entrepreneurship Center at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC). The Zell Global Entrepreneur Network (ZGEN) unites the students and alumni of these programs and actively provides them with connections, opportunities, mentorship and support. Sam also sponsors the Samuel Zell/Robert Lurie Real Estate Center at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Real Estate Center. He holds a JD degree and a BA from the University of Michigan.

Sam was recognized in 2017 by Forbes as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds. Also in 2017, Sam debuted his book, Am I Being Too Subtle? (Penguin RandomHouse), in which he shares fundamentals and philosophies that made him a self-made billionaire.