Alumni Spotlight: Doug Miyaki, Staking His Claim in Real Estate
Doug Miyaki found
his true calling as
a star realtor
Like so many lifelong learners, Doug Miyaki's
journey is a path of passion, curiosity and a drive to
succeed at every stage of life. He's a people person
and dream facilitator, so it's no surprise that he recently
transitioned to a career in real estate — a move made
possible by the Real Estate Specialized Studies program
he completed last summer.
“The Division of Continuing Education program gave
me the formal education I needed to stand out in a
very competitive market,” he said. “And it provided
the flexibility and structure I needed at the time.”
Sinking into a comfortable rut has never been
an option for this former Marine. After
spending 15 years as project manager for
Intel, he became a workshop facilitator,
then an independent business consultant.
Working in real estate had always been
a dream job. A friend of Miyaki's, a
successful real estate agent, noticed his
engaging, easy way with people and
suggested that he would make a great
agent. It got him to thinking.
“I saw how she was winning, and having
fun, in real estate,” he said. “When I left
my high-tech position, my favorite client said to me,
‘These things usually work out for the better.’ That
encouragement, and seeing other's success, were like
signs from above.”
Now part of Elite Realty Services in Silicon Valley, Miyaki
found time to discuss his interesting career arc — and
how the DCE helped position him for success.
You've had quite a bit of success in a short time,
building a reputation for finding unique and creative
housing solutions for your clients. Can you speak to
Well, that's kind of a secret. [laughs] I can't tell you or
others would steal it. Like any agents we search
properties to meet clients’ requests, but let's just say we
do it in a different way. I can say I've always been a
good listener, so that helps me get into the mindset of
the client, to better understand their needs. Maybe we
haven't reinvented the wheel, but we're spinning it in
a unique way, and it's working; investors return, and
our clients refer us to their friends. My partner Suzanne
Bakhtiari is a big part of this. She has an amazing ability
to connect with people. Together we're home
What's the best part about closing a sale?
The passion comes when a client is truly
delighted, and it shows. They light up, and
that light energizes me.
Did your experience as a project
manager help shape your approach to
Yes, I managed high-impact, high-visibility
projects for over a decade, and that definitely
helped prepare me. The stakes are
high in real estate; you don't want
anything falling through the cracks. There
are a lot of moving parts, each one
potentially affecting something down the line, so organization
is key. Also, there are a lot of stakeholders —
sellers, buyers, other agents, inspectors, title companies
— and somebody has to balance all of this and watch
that schedule. Agents are that focal point.
When did you decide to change careers and become
a real estate agent?
Back when I still worked at Intel, Suzanne suggested I
try to become an agent. We knew each other in our
community — our kids played together — and she
saw how I interacted with people as a baseball coach,
Boy Scout leader, and in other roles as a community
volunteer. She said I had the right personality for real
estate. Suzanne's a top agent, and I started working
as her assistant, then later, when I got my license, we
became partners. Now we're handling properties
ranging up to several million dollars.
There are so many options out there. What attracted
you to UCI?
Real estate in the Silicon Valley is very competitive. I
wanted to stand out from my competition with a more
formal education, and I wanted to take the exam with
high confidence. So I went with a UC system school
to give me the best chance at success. My career
counselor would only recommend UCI, so I searched
the website and there it was: A licensure program that
meets all the state requirements, is instructor-led, and
offered online. Perfect!
Tell me about your experience in the Real Estate
Specialized Studies program.
The program offers flexible scheduling, and I wanted to
finish quickly, so I set mine at two semesters. Once the
courses started, all the content was delivered through
readings, audio presentations, exercises, quizzes, online
discussions with other students — the variety kept it
interesting. And the instructors are very friendly and
experienced. They communicate through UCI's web-based
tools, which give each lesson the feel of a live
lecture. The online discussions felt like labs, seeing other
students’ viewpoints and then giving my feedback.
How did it prepare you to pass the exam?
An optional two-day Test Prep course given on campus
at UCI really set me up for success. I had the opportunity
to meet Joel Carlson, one of my instructors, the
weekend of my Test Prep course, and he encouraged
me to keep taking practice exams, closed-book, until I
was scoring 90%. That was the best advice ever and
led to me passing the exam on my first attempt.
So let's end at the very beginning. I suspect your time
in the Marines might have helped prepare you for your
There are Marine qualities that have really stuck with
me — always being ready, able and first. Marines can
be anywhere in the world in 24 hours. So today I'm
pretty much ready for anything, I have business clothing
standing by, my vehicle is clean, my phone and laptop
are charged, and I'm alert, looking for opportunities all
around me. Marines are often the ‘first to fight,’ and in
real estate, first often wins. You might be first to respond
to an email from someone looking for a host for an
open house, or the first to respond to a prospect on a
website. Minutes could mean the difference between
earning a listing over another agent.
♦ ♦ ♦
Doug's tenacity and commitment, coupled with formal
education have helped him realize success at every
stage in his career. He was not born with the ability to
pair someone with the home of their dreams, but he
took the steps necessary to change course and turn
his vision into a reality.
Learn more about how to go from curious
to invested in a Real Estate career at