Apogee Awards Honorees: Robert M. Barthelmess
Meet Robert M. Barthelmess of BGI Capital, an honoree in the Financial Services category at the 2020 Apogee Awards
Robert M. Barthelmess has worked in the lending industry for over 25 years with an expertise in corporate banking and commercial real estate finance. Currently, Mr. Barthelmess is the co-founder and managing partner of BGI Capital, where he oversees the lending and institutional relationship components at the firm.
Fun fact: I have a big family, five children with my beautiful wife. I devote my time off from work to them and truly appreciate every single moment we spend together. I also love to cook and experimenting with food. It allows me to be creative and work on my culinary skills. I’ll cook anything, but I have been told my Peruvian, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes are delicious.
What is your favorite South Florida dining destination? Momi Ramen (located in Brickell) and Dr. Limon (Peruvian cuisine). I visit Dr. Limon at least twice a month. It’s delicious.
What do you like to do on weekends? I like to cook on the weekends for my friends and family. I enjoy having my friends and family over and spending quality time with them. I usually cook for our guests and pair wine, whiskey or scotch tastings to go with our meal. This has become a tradition in our home, especially as some of our eldest children have come of drinking age. I truly appreciate being able to share this part of my life with them.
How do you unwind from a long day at work? I exercise in the mornings with one of my daughters a few times a week. Working out gives me a chance to disconnect and re-charge, which allows me to mentally prepare for the day.
What is your favorite quote? “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right” — Henry Ford
From whom, or what, do you draw inspiration? My mother and grandmother have always been very inspirational to me. They were both single parents who made the courageous decision to leave Peru and emigrate to the United States for a chance to provide our family with a better future. They arrived in the United States not knowing the language and started from zero. They are both extremely strong women who, against all odds, were able to provide for our family. It’s because of them that I have instilled such a strong work ethic and I am forever grateful to them.
What has been the biggest accomplishment of your career? I have been fortunate enough to reach many important milestones throughout my long banking career. Among the most significant was becoming the head of corporate banking for Latin America for one of the largest European banks at the age of 29. More recently, I have to say that successfully becoming an entrepreneur in my 40s has been extremely fulfilling on a personal and professional level. Starting BGI Capital from the ground up and witnessing it grow over time into an important go-to lender in South Florida a fulfilling accomplishment. Today, we have many locations to continue expanding our operation including one in New York and a recently opened satellite office in Palm Beach County.
What has been the most challenging moment in your career and how did you overcome it? The most challenging moment of my career was four years ago, back in January 2016 when I decided to leave my corporate job to start my own business (BGI Capital). I had never gone without knowing when I would receive a paycheck so that reality was very daunting at first. When you have a big family, it can be scary to take risks like this, you want to make sure you can support them. It took time to get BGI Capital to where it is today, but I am very proud of its journey.
I overcame this challenge by having a great support system, continuously working hard on a daily basis, and by being motivated by another one of my favorite quotes by Aristotle: “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
What advice would you give an up and coming professional? I would tell them to focus on their craft, whatever it may be. Work on it daily, as well as investing in yourself to become an expert in your career field. Go to workshops, network with the right people, receive and ask for help as needed, and always revisit your goal(s).