Cityview CEO Sean Burton Says White House Lessons Still Resonate in His Work as Apartment Investor
By Jack Witthaus
May 16, 2023 | 8:21 AM
One of the most active real estate developers in Los Angeles worked his first job at an American property that has an incalculable value: the White House. And Sean Burton says what he learned there has carried over into his work with multifamily properties to this day.
In 1993, Burton, now CEO of apartment developer and investor Cityview, began his career during President Bill Clinton’s administration serving on the healthcare task force. Then 21, Burton worked on overhauling and reimagining the U.S. healthcare system after completing an honors thesis on healthcare reform at the University of California-Irvine.
His job was to determine where members of Congress stood on healthcare reform, distilling that information into briefings for the larger healthcare task force chaired by First Lady Hillary Clinton. While there weren’t many one-on-one interactions, Burton often found himself in meetings with her.
“I was blown away by her grasp of both the big picture political strategy as well as the minutiae of substantive health care policy,” Burton said.
Burton said that one of the biggest lessons he learned from being on the staff she ran was work ethic — a lesson that he’s taken to his job at Cityview, the manager of 5,200 apartment units with another 1,500 units in development. His colleagues normally toiled on Saturdays and part of Sundays, preferring to eat all their meals at the White House.
“One of my bosses told me that a lot of people wanted my job, but not a lot of people wanted my work, so if I really buckled down and did the work it would lead to great opportunities,” Burton said. “I took that advice to heart throughout my career and truly believe that focusing more on what I was contributing than my title led me to where I am today.”
Burton continues in working to serve the public outside his day job in real estate. He co-chairs The Los Angeles Coalition, a group made up of business and local government leaders to address various issues facing L.A. He also has served as a member of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board of directors and as president of the Board of Airport Commissioners in Los Angeles.
After the White House, Burton worked as a corporate and real estate attorney at O’Melveny & Myers. He then was vice president of corporate business development and strategy at Warner Bros.
Burton said he’d be open to working in the White House again in the future.
“There is also a lot of good work being done on domestic policy and housing,” Burton said. “I would love to be a part of making change in that area since I have spent the last 20 years at Cityview developing and operating multifamily and seeing the impact of housing affordability on communities.”
R É S U M É
Sean Burton | CEO, Cityview
Hometown: Los Angeles
Current city: Los Angeles
Years in industry: 20
Education: Law degree, New York University School of Law; Bachelor’s UC Irvine
Hobbies: Golf, fly fishing, hiking, travel
Advice to those starting out in the industry: “Do the work. Everyone wants your job, no one wants your work.”