Tom Ray ('86)

Alumni of the Month Nov '12

This month, Colorado Law recognizes another one of our highly successful alums in the Denver business community, Tom Ray. Ray is President and CEO of CoreSite Realty Corporation, an NYSE-traded real estate investment trust that owns and operates data centers in North America. He has more than 25 years of experience making and managing investments and businesses throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, and provides a great example of the alternative career paths that are possible for Colorado Law alums.

A Fort Collins native, Ray graduated as a Hornbeck Scholar from the University of Denver in 1984, receiving a BS in business administration with an emphasis in finance. He earned his JD with an emphasis in taxation from Colorado Law in 1986, and immediately entered private practice in Albuquerque, NM. Ray's private practice focused largely on real estate and transactional law, and after three years in New Mexico, Ray moved his practice to Colorado. In 1992, Ray left private practice and moved to Austin, TX to complete an MBA with concentrations in international business and finance at the University of Texas, where he was a Longhorn Scholar.

After completing his MBA, Ray went to work for the Security Capital Group, which included companies like ProLogis,CarrAmerica, and the predecessors to Archstone-Smith. For almost six years at Security Capital, Ray filled roles of increasing responsibility and worked with the company's Santa Fe, Denver, San Francisco, and Amsterdam offices. In moving to Amsterdam in 1997, he was a member of the ProLogis team founding the company's operations in Europe. Ray returned to the U.S. near the end of 1998 to work in CarrAmerica's Washington, DC office.

In 1999, Ray left Security Capital to join global private equity firm, The Carlyle Group, where he eventually became the firm's managing director for North American Real Estate funds. Ray stayed with Carlyle for 11 years, working in the firm's Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Denver offices. During his tenure at Carlyle, he led the firm's North American activities in the data center sector, including acquiring and managing data center investments, among other non-data center responsibilities. In 2001, Carlyle recognized that it could create added value by creating a management company to run the portfolio of data centers as an integrated operating company rather than a disparate collection of real estate assets. The firm created a management company to support the operations of the portfolio, and Ray maintained responsibility for acquiring additional assets, managing the operations of the management company, and financing assets within the owned portfolio.

Following strong growth of the data center portfolio and management company, in 2008, Ray led Carlyle's rebranding of the then-maturing company to become CoreSite. During this time, he continued to work as a Carlyle managing director while the firm continued to invest in and build the CoreSite platform. In 2010, CoreSite completed its IPO with an equity value of $730 million, taking the real estate assets and CoreSite management company public as CoreSite Realty Corporation. Ray resigned from his position at Carlyle shortly in advance of the IPO road show but remains the company's President, CEO, and a member of its board of directors. CoreSite has thrived under Ray's leadership: as of September 2012, the company had an equity market capitalization of $1.2 billion.

Ray remains involved at Colorado Law, where he serves on the Dean's Advisory Committee and works with the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship.

Meet Tom Ray at this month's Hot Topic CLE entitled, "Making a Successful Transition from Law to Business," where he will be one of the three featured panelists, along with Chad Asarch and Libby Cook (Alum of the Month December 2011). The CLE will be hosted at CoreSite on Monday, November 5 at noon and is worth two general CLE credits.

Five Questions for Tom Ray

What is your fondest memory of being a student at Colorado Law?

Two things: The energy, intelligence and enthusiasm of the law-school community, and real estate and tax Professor Nort Steuben. Both taught me a great deal and were great to be around.

What do you know now that you wish you had known in law school?

That everything connects and everything matters. The people you meet, the ideas you hear, the work you do, the opportunities you have – they all connect, or at least if you take care of them then they usually come back to you with the same positive imprint you last put upon them. 

What advice would you give to current students as they're preparing to graduate?

Don't let near-term challenges or complexities dominate your view screen. Life will bring many changes. Keep an open mind and an open heart, align your efforts with whatever is 'true north' for you, work incredibly hard and do the right thing by the people you meet. If you do those things, your career and your life will end up finding a happy equilibrium for you and those you care about.

Who was the biggest influence on your career?

My grandfather. I worked for him a bit during summers as I was growing up. He was highly instrumental in instilling in me my values and work ethic. 

Of what accomplishment are you most proud?

That a good woman has stayed married to me for 20 years and that our children are principled, curious, joyful, and innately kind.