Member Spotlight: John Crowley III

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Contact: LinkedIn and email at [email protected].

Graduation Year: WG'19

Concentration: Finance, Entrepreneurship and Innovation 

What do you do professionally? I'm the principal and fund manager at Star Mesa Capital. Star Mesa is a privately funded investment company, with direct investments predominately in real-estate, hospitality, agriculture, and opportunistic credit. Given how we are capitalized, the fund can consider almost any type of investment, although private lending has been our focus the last several years due to the opportunity-set.

What are some interesting or exciting things about you? I served our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL, fighting alongside some of the finest warriors in the world (of course, I am biased). While my day job is quite different now, I’m certain my background in the SEAL Teams strongly influences how I conduct business and the standards I hold myself to, both personally and professionally. I’m grateful to have been a part of such an esteemed group, and I constantly push to make sure I don’t let that experience be the hardest thing I ever do (sound advice I’ve held onto from an instructor early in training).

How has your Wharton degree benefitted you? The most valuable aspect of my Wharton MBA is unequivocally the people I have met and the long-term relationships that have ensued. As I think we would all agree, Wharton recruits some of the most talented, interesting, and brightest people in the world, and we inevitably become a product (or as some say, an average) of those we surround ourselves with. Coming from the military, I know I also benefitted from the diversity of courses and electives I was able to take, helping round out my understanding of the many facets of business.  

What advice would you offer those alumni who recently completed Wharton? Don’t be afraid to reach out to the network you are now a proud member of. I think we often have a preconception that someone reaching out must be in need or asking for something in return, but that “something” may just be to learn about you or your business. The reason any of us have joined the Wharton Club of Colorado is for that engagement and connection, and those that have been granted someone’s time and attention are likely to pay it forward.

Is there any support you’d be open to providing to any local Wharton alum? I am always open to a conversation and/or helping to make a connection via my own personal network. I’m sure as is the case for anyone reading this, we’re all in a constant battle with our calendars. Time is certainly not easy to come by, but I find it’s usually possible to find 15-20 minutes for a call or a warm e-mail introduction.

Are there any ways local Wharton alumni could help you or your company? Absolutely. We are always looking for good deals and good people to do them with, either as counterparties or partners. When we come across a deal that is not a fit for our platform, for whatever reason, we always seek to offer quick feedback, and when possible, a thoughtful introduction to another group. Having expertise to leverage when diligencing an investment or a workout is invaluable, so a vast network of industry professionals is always accretive. As Sam Zell used to say, “pursue knowledge in all directions." I view our business the same way; the opportunistic nature is quite dynamic and we can always benefit from being well-connected and well-informed.

What are your favorite hobbies? A very Colorado answer, but anything and everything outdoors. Cycling (mountain and road), rock climbing, and hiking/trail-running in the warmer months, and downhill and backcountry skiing (or ski instructing with our three kids) in the winter. If it counts as a hobby to visit a local brewery after these activities, then I’d throw that on the list as well!