Christopher R. McShane wanted to learn more about how the world worked. He first thought journalism would be the ticket, but a career in commercial real estate has led to a similar end. “Real estate as a discipline is truly a liberal art,” he says, describing the profession as the confluence of engineering, banking, politics, law, economics, and geography. Like a reporter, McShane, 28, spends long hours tracking down information. He scours bank data, loan portfolios, land holdings, and government regulations for his land-brokerage clients and corporate partners. His research and analytical skills have landed him greater management responsibilities and made him the company “go-to guy” for unearthing business opportunities.