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Simon Treacy at his home in Honolulu. During his short drives to and from the office, he often ponders how to help Kaka‘ako’s residents and visitors become more connected to the resources around them.

Simon Treacy, the President of Howard Hughes Corporation in Hawai‘i, isn’t often at a loss for words.

There are YouTube videos of the Australian native and former Manhattan money market mogul talking about in- vestment and real estate. He is fluent in finance fundamentals, real estate markets and art, which judging by his collection is his greatest passion—if you don’t count his family.

Looking at the 50-year-old success story, it’s hard to believe that Treacy was a developmentally delayed child, who didn’t speak until he was at least five years old. There’s no trace of that struggling child in the adult Treacy except for his certainty that what really counts in life is love— it heals, it believes, it motivates.

How does a developmentally delayed child grow up to become the right person to oversee the massive Ward Village master-planned community in Honolulu? Treacy will tell you that it’s not because of his decades of real estate experience across the U.S., Asia, Europe and Latin America or the more than $30 billion in transactions that he’s completed.

It’s not because of his role at BlackRock Inc., where he was responsible for the investments, performance of real estate portfolios and all of the firm’s advised real estate funds and investment vehicles.

His role as founding shareholder and global CEO of private equity real estate firm MGPA probably had little to do with it either. Nor did his role as a Global Trustee for the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

It’s not even his early days at Lend Lease, where he his job was to sell insurance by cold calling in a tough suburb. It’s not because he was capable of surviving the global real estate market during the Asian financial crisis, where he learned from his mentor, fellow Lend Lease employee Jim Quille, “When you are going through hell, keep going.”

When asked how he beat the odds, Treacy momentarily chokes up. He answers the question by forming his hands into a heart symbol and placing it in front of his chest.

“My parents, Max and Pam Treacy, provided a lot of love and nurturing.

My older brother and sister are my best friends, my soul mates. They all believed in me,” Treacy shares.

Love is why Treacy acquired the skills to oversee a project like Ward Village, which includes 60-acres of new residential, retail, dining and entertainment venues, as well as, the revitalization of O‘ahu’s historic Kewalo Harbor. Ironically, it’s also the reason that he made the decision to leave New York and relocate his family to Hawai‘i, a place he and his wife, Moko, had come to love since honeymooning there.

“After traveling 4.5 days a week build- ing a business around Europe, the U.S. and Asia, I wanted to spend more time with my beautiful young family—my wife Moko, my three kids J.J., Emily and Benjamin, “ Treacy says.

Once here, his characteristic drive and his desire to make his children’s community a better place motivated him to come out of retirement. On his short drive home from the office, Treacy often ponders how to help Kaka‘ako’s residents and visitors become more connected to the natural resources around them.

His children say they understand and accept his choice. “We weren’t surprised when he went back to work. He loves work and he’s a very productive person,” says son Benjamin. “We don’t mind because we get to spend way more time with him here than we did in New York.”

Emily says she admires her father for “having a good job, building a nice home and providing stuff for the family.”

Love of family and the desire to prove worthy of their support is a theme that goes back to Treacy’s youth. What he lacked in academic prowess, he made up for in ambition. He started working at a young age colleting cans on the beach. Later, he sold newspapers and delivered pharmacy orders.

By the time he was earning his Bachelor of Commerce degree from Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, he was a regional manager responsible for three McDonald’s restaurants.

“I think I did so much because I had something to prove. People didn’t think I would make anything of myself. I was a bit of a slow learner,” he said. “My parents were always saying that I would get there. They said people learn at a different pace and in different ways—it’s the journey that’s important.”

And, oh what a journey it has been. Treacy’s path to success has taken him all over the world. He has been a frequent visitor to Europe and lived and worked in Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, China and Japan, where he met his wife and reached new heights at Lend Lease.

Jim Quille, one of Treacy’s early mentors, says Treacy’s tenacity and people skills set him apart. Quille says he admires that Treacy is “not willing to take ‘no’ for an answer and his quest to find a better way not accepting the status quo.”

“He gained the trust of a patriarch of a large Japanese family, who was seeking to dispose of a large portfolio of Tokyo office properties. He did this by having tea with the patriarch over many months—often on weekends getting to understand his broader plans,” Quille reveals.

While these days Treacy is best known for the art of the deal, he once thought he would pursue fine art.

“I wanted to go to art college. But my dad came home one night and said, ‘Get a business degree, you can buy art later in life and get back to it.’” Treacy says.

Now, Treacy has an unabashed passion for acquiring pieces that speak to him. Most of his art purchases, including some Robert Kellys and a Warhol are dedicated to moments in his life or to his family.