Meet the executive team


Michael Braun

Michael Braun is president of Grit Development, formerly known as Wessman Development. Michael joined Wessman Development in 2003 as senior vice president and chief financial officer. He assumed complete management of the company following John Wessman’s formal retirement in February 2017. He formally changed the company name to Grit Development to better reflect the company’s new management and goals moving forward.

As president, Michael oversees all aspects of the Palm Springs downtown revitalization project plus a full portfolio of real estate assets. Grit Development’s portfolio consists of over one million square feet of commercial real estate assets including shopping centers, hotels and housing projects.

Earlier in his career, Michael was a partner and chief investment officer at Pinnacle Securities in New York where he managed various currency partnerships and portfolio funds. Over the course of his 15-year career in fixed income and currency markets at JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch in Frankfurt, London and New York, he advised some of the largest hedge funds in the world, two of the biggest mutual funds in the U.S. and key Asian sovereign funds along with the most prestigious car manufacturers and mutual funds in Germany.

Michael holds an MBA in finance and accounting from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany and is a member of ICSC.

Octavio Fernandez

Octavio Fernandez is senior vice president of Grit Development. He transitioned with Michael from Wessman Development which he joined in 1983.

Octavio has over 30 years of experience in the commercial construction industry. With his expertise in commercial real estate and construction management, he oversees all project development and construction processes. This includes permitting, procurement, contractor selection, negotiations, construction and transition to operations.

Octavio earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Minor in Finance, Insurance and Real Estate from Cal Poly University Pomona.