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Lori Roth ’90 MBA

Headshot of Kellogg alum Lori Roth ’90 MBA
As a young girl, Lori Roth ’90 MBA liked to cut out photos of attractive buildings and townhouses from The New York Times Magazine. She understood even then that her passion for real estate was a little unusual for a kid.

Roth grew up in New Jersey, where her mother taught dance lessons. She realized at a young age that she was not going to be a professional dancer like her mother and instead inherited a love for business from her father, a CPA.

She enjoyed going to work with her father and benefited from his mentorship. While there was no particular interest in real estate in her family, somehow, she was attracted to it. She found it fascinating to see things go from holes in the ground to beautiful buildings. 

Roth never lost that passion. She is now a senior managing director at Ashley Capital, where she has worked since 1995 in — you guessed it — real estate. Ashley acquires, develops, renovates and leases large industrial buildings in the Eastern U.S. Roth is in charge of arranging the billions of dollars of financing that the company relies on to do business. 

Roth credits the Kellogg School of Management with providing her the education, insights and opportunities that have helped her thrive in a very competitive industry. 

Today, Roth is a dedicated Kellogg booster. Her daughter, Jennifer Schnadig, has caught the Kellogg bug, too — she is now a student. Roth gives back by serving on the Kellogg Alumni Council and the Kellogg Admissions Leadership Council. “And don’t forget Reunion planning! I love doing that,” she adds.

In addition to her volunteer work, Roth also supports Kellogg philanthropically, specifically in the area of financial aid. “There are so many qualified students that want to go to Kellogg that may not be able to afford it. We want to mitigate those financial obstacles so that those students can choose to attend Kellogg and continue to uphold its incredible reputation.”

“It’s all because I had such a good experience at Kellogg,” Roth explains. She feels the culture continues to be so unique in terms of people who want to experience Midwestern values. “I think it’s a high level of emotional intelligence. I’d like to see that continue. I like to speak with people considering Kellogg and make sure we get the best. In whatever way I can help out, I really enjoy staying connected.”

Before she got her big start in real estate, Roth majored in economics and international relations at Tufts University. Her initial jobs were at two international banks in New York: British bank National Westminster and The Industrial Bank of Japan. “I was mostly in corporate banking, but I still had this strange itch to pursue real estate. That’s when I decided to go back to business school and do a pivot.”

At the time, Roth’s recently-discovered love of travel and other cultures made her yearn to venture beyond the Northeast. She attended several business school information sessions. “When I went to the one for Kellogg I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the alums,” Roth says. “I thought, ‘I really have to go here.’ I only applied to Kellogg, and I had never even been to Chicago.”

As a Kellogg student, Roth considered checking out various business subjects. But she was drawn to classes specific to real estate including legal and finance classes. To enhance her in-class learning, she snagged an internship with Sam Zell where she worked at his Equity Properties and Development Company analyzing retail projects. She continued with a job there in her second year at Kellogg. Zell, a generous champion of Kellogg, founded the Zell Fellows program in entrepreneurship at the school in 2013 and endowed the program prior to his passing in 2023. 

Outside of real estate, one class with Jeanne Brett, the DeWitt W. Buchanan, Jr. Professor Emerita of Dispute Resolution and Organizations, really stands out in Roth’s memory. “It was one of my first classes, with Professor Brett, on organizational behavior. It has guided me through my career, in learning how to work with others and how to negotiate.” She reflects on that class when working with junior staff and when developing financing deals with bankers and insurance company professionals. “It helped me build relationships over time by being respectful, yet firm when I needed to be firm.”

Those skills have also helped Roth succeed in a male-dominated industry. “Early in my career, I didn’t get the level of respect you’d expect, or should expect.” 

The culture at Kellogg, though, was different. “We were always learning from our classmates, that’s one of the great things about Kellogg. I was in finance and management classes with like-minded classmates who had backgrounds in investment banking or were consultants.” Roth recalls taking a particularly fast-paced finance class. “I didn’t have the background, but many of my classmates were willing to sit with me and help. I’m not sure I would have gotten that at other schools.”

Most of all, Kellogg helped Roth steer her career in the direction she wanted to go. She got her position at Ashley through a classmate connection. At Ashley, “real estate is all we do,” Roth enthuses. “Industrial is not the most glamorous sector. But it’s really important — people won’t get the goods they ordered from Amazon without industrial facilities. I really enjoy the people I work with, the cadence of the work, and the number and quality of deals we do. And I love trying to get the best deal I can for the company.”