Q & A: Orchard Graduate Christopher Kirles '97 Named One of IBJ's Forty Under 40

Indianapolis Business Journal recently delivered their list of Forty Under 40, which showcases the work of rising stars in the community. We were thrilled to see that Christopher Kirles '97 made the list! 
 
Today, Chris is President of Construction and Principal for Flaherty & Collins Properties. Recently, he oversaw the development of 360 Market Square in Indy and has $500 million in projects in the works.
 
Chris is 35-years-old.
 
We caught up with Chris a few days ago to talk about being recognized by the IBJ, how Orchard impacted his life as a young man and what he’s been up to after graduating from Orchard over 20 years ago. 

Also, be sure to check out the photos below!

 
Congrats on the Forty Under 40!
It was an honor to be recognized by the IBJ as a member of the Forty Under 40 class but this achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible staff, coworkers and my partners I’ve been fortunate to have throughout my career.  
  
You build lots of amazing development spaces and apartments. Have you ever considered building a school?
Our primary focus at Flaherty & Collins is building multifamily (rental) apartments. Occasionally, we will consider other opportunities outside of what we consider to be our core competencies but typically we would partner with a group that has expertise in that particular area. We have ventured outside of apartments and developed grocery stores, retail, etc. but only when it’s vertically integrated with an apartment component, unfortunately we have never considered building a school.     
  
It’s been more than 20 years since you graduated from Orchard. How have you been? 
Everything has been going well on a personal level since graduating from Orchard in 1997. After Orchard, I went on to attend North Central High School and then graduated from Indiana University in 2005 from the Kelley School of Business in Bloomington with a degree in Finance. Something I would have liked to do during my time at IU is study abroad, which I wasn’t able to do then so I have made it a priority to travel as much as possible over the last several years. A few places I’ve had the opportunity to visit include China, France, England, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, Dubai, Hong Kong, etc. Last July I married the love of my life (Courtney) and hope to have kids sometime in the near future. As of now our two-year-old French Bulldog is our only child! One of my interests as a child which hasn’t seemed to change over the years is my obsession with sneakers. I’m still an avid collector and have several pairs that I’ve held onto since high school, still unworn and in the box. I lived downtown for 8 years and recently purchased a home on the north side, primarily to have more green space for the dog and storage for my shoes!
  
How did Orchard’s progressive education impact your life?
My overall experience at Orchard was excellent and prepared me in various ways for my future. Aside from a great education, there were a few teachers I had during my time there that were extremely influential on me as a young kid which has carried with me in my personal and professional life. The lessons I learned were not as much about the books or what I was learning in the classroom but more about the experiences that helped me grow as a person and confidence that was instilled in me by a select few. Growing up I seemed to “go against the grain” at times and there were some that embraced this and others that didn’t, both of which contributed to the person I am today.
 
 
We recently finished tapping maple trees and making syrup for last week’s Alumni Heritage Association Pancake Breakfast. Are there any Orchard traditions still near and dear to your heart?
There were several traditions at Orchard that I fondly remember. As I reflect on some of those the two that stick out the most are the Washington/Williamsburg trip and Gnaw Bone Camp. It has been a family tradition to spend a weekend at Brown County each year which isn’t far from Gnaw Bone. A couple years ago we drove to Gnaw Bone on our way back and had a chance to relive some of the wonderful memories I had going there with my classmates at Orchard.  
 
 
Middle school students just finished a two-week intensive mini-semester called Winterm. Students selected from 15 different courses to go in depth. One of those courses was BLING (Business Leadership In the Next Generation). As President of Construction and Principal, do you have any advice for the young entrepreneurs at Orchard? 
My advice to any young entrepreneur is to find something your passionate about, surround yourself with the right people who are better/smarter than you are, set goals, and stay focused by doing whatever it takes to accomplish what you have set out for yourself. Success and personal achievement is almost always obtained through trial and error, difficult experiences, and continuing to get up and “keeping your eye on the ball”. Maintain a high level of integrity and always treat people with respect regardless of what they can or can’t do for you. Things always seem to come back full circle.   
 
 
Steve Thompson (class of 1963 and Orchard teacher of 47 years) says he's glad to hear you're doing well. He enjoyed having you on his basketball teams and mentioned that you were a great player.
Steve Thompson was one of those people I mentioned above that had a big impact on me not only as a basketball player at the time but more importantly as a person. It’s incredible to think about how many young players he has coached over his 47-year career and how many lives he has changed for the better. Playing basketball isn’t a career for most people (although it sure seemed like it was at the time), so it’s more about personal development, teamwork, discipline, and work ethic. Steve was an incredible coach and mentor for me at Orchard and instilled the confidence in me as a player which carried with me when I played at North Central.
 
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    • Chris with his wife, Courtney. The two were married last year in Indianapolis! Photo by: Christian Sampson

      Chris Kirles Forty Under 40

      Chris with his wife, Courtney. The two were married last year in Indianapolis! Photo by: Christian Sampson

    • Chris and Courtney

      Chris Kirles Forty Under 40

      Chris and Courtney's two-year-old French Bulldog.

    • Chris (pictured top row, number 30) with his Orchard teammates after winning the IISL Soccer Championship.

      Chris Kirles Forty Under 40

      Chris (pictured top row, number 30) with his Orchard teammates after winning the IISL Soccer Championship.

    • Chris (number 45) with his teammates after an impressive Orchard basketball season. His team went 22 - 4 and won the IISL Championship during his eighth grade year.

      Chris Kirles Forty Under 40

      Chris (number 45) with his teammates after an impressive Orchard basketball season. His team went 22 - 4 and won the IISL Championship during his eighth grade year.

    • Chris is cutting down the net after winning the IISL Championship as a seventh grader on varsity.

      Chris Kirles Forty Under 40

      Chris is cutting down the net after winning the IISL Championship as a seventh grader on varsity.

    • Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Business Journal

      Chris Kirles Forty Under 40

      Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Business Journal