Last week, McCombs had the pleasure of hosting 16 teams from the top MBA programs in the country to compete in the National Real Estate Challenge sponsored by companies like Morgan Stanley, The Blackstone Group, Hines, Prudential Real Estate Investors, JLL, Cerberus Capital Management, HFF, Clarion, Weingarten, RREEF, Kimco, The Lionstone Group, Archstone, Archon, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, and GE Asset Management.
The National Real Estate Challenge is a great opportunity for students in the real estate concentration to compete on a difficult case and gain experience in handling these types of issues that will inevitably arise in their careers. Brian Thomas, a second-year McCombs MBA student who competed this year said “Quality case writing is crucial. A quality case with many dimensions allows students to stretch the boundaries of their knowledge, skills, and abilities. This year’s case was written by JP Morgan and had all the elements of a well-written real estate finance case.” Within the context of an incredibly volatile real estate market, this case was centered on finding a viable deal structure and aligning interest for a portfolio of assets.
The teams received the case on the previous Thursday and had until Sunday evening to turn in their presentations. As you can imagine, this requires around-the-clock work during that short period of time. The teams submitted their presentations by 5pm on Sunday and then traveled to Austin on Wednesday for the competition.
On Thursday, each of the teams presented to a panel of judges and four teams were chosen to move on to the finals. These teams then presented their case to all of the judges and a winner was selected. This year’s grand prize went to the University of North Carolina, but every team presented an impressive solution to the case and the competition was tight. All teams benefit from this experience, especially given the opportunity to network with the judges from so many prestigous companies and with the teams from all of the other schools. “It’s a rare opportunity to bring together nearly 100 of the top real estate MBA students from the top 16 real estate MBA programs. In doing so, students get to learn from the perspectives/experience of their peers and learn more about the offerings at other programs” said Thomas.
One of the many perks of McCombs is the Real Estate Finance and Investment Center (REFIC) that we have available to us. REFIC is the first research center at a leading university to specialize in the intersection of real estate and finance. Without REFIC, events like this would not be possible. Brian Thomas says“Having the organization, resources, and infrastructure in place to pull off an event of this magnitude is not an easy task. The organizers do a great job making this event possible and contributing to its longstanding reputation.” As students, we are very appreciative of the real estate resources provided to us here at McCombs.
If you have any questions regarding the National Real Estate Challenge or would like to be put in contact with one of the students who competed on this year’s team, please contact me at your convenience.