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  • MBA Students to Compete in Real Estate Case Competition

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    MBA second-year students Matt Lesh and Kyle Pietila will be competing next week in a Real Estate Case Competition in Chicago.  For the past few weeks, the team (comprised of real estate, MBA and architecture students) has been doing market research on the current real estate market in the Chicago land area.  The research includes: absorption rates, building trends, interest rates. the land & building entitlement process, and commercial tenant build out requirements. Additionally, the team has conducted multiple interviews and meetings with real estate professionals from the Chicago area as well as proprietary online real estate databases.

    Read more to hear from team member Matt Lash as he sat down with us to talk about the competition and his experience.

    Thanks for chatting with us Matt! So, this case competition is happening outside of the MBA program, how did you get involved? The case competition is sponsored by the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation. The foundation started in 1999 as a not-for-profit that promotes student experiences in the real estate industry and cancer research. We first heard of the foundation from taking the FIN 590 - Real Estate Development class that was offered in Fall 2010. Prof Cannaday is the moderator for the class. The majority of the session were taught by guest lecturers who are involved in the foundation as well.

    What is the focus of the case competition?  What will you be presenting? The focus of the competition is a real estate development proposal for the Cabrini-Green site at Division and Halsted Streets in Chicago's Near North side. Each team is required to put together a conceptual design, financial analysis, tenant mix, economic analysis, and construction schedule that must be presented to the competition judges on April 9, 2011 in Chicago. Each team has a lot of flexibility for their proposal. There are a list of Chicago Housing Authority guidelines that we must follow. Our tangible deliverables will be a complete real estate proposal and pro forma document. We are also required to present via Powerpoint.

    What other students are on your team?  How did you meet them? The other students on the team include: Brian Dunne (Senior - BS in Finance), Taylor Douell (Junior - BS in Finance), Cheng Wang (MSF), Connor Matthews (Junior - BS in Finance and Supply Chain), and Jenna Goebig (MBA/MArch). We met the undergads and MSF student from our FIN 590 Real Estate Development class which was open to undergrads and graduate students.

    How do you think participating in this competition has enriched your MBA experience? Participating in this event has enriched my MBA experience because it allows me to be involved in an industry that I may enter for full-time employment upon graduation. This research process involves networking with excellent job contacts and learning how the development process really works. The information we have gathered is not all shown in textbooks. In addition, I have been able to use my management capabilities to lead and develop this diverse team.

    Anything cool you've learned that you weren't expecting to learn? Something cool that I've learned is that the real estate industry in Chicago is very small. Many of the people we have met know the other players in the market. Therefore, we've been able to connect with a number of people in different disciplines because of the strong networking aspect. Also, there are a number of steps involved in the development process that includes working with public officials from the City of Chicago. This process is laborious and time consuming. But, it can be well worth it if your project goes well.

    What has been the biggest challenge in preparing for this competition? The biggest challenge when preparing for the competition has been the initial lack of knowledge of the project team. None of the team members have had experience in the real estate development industry. Thus, we all had to learn a lot of background information to understand what we need to do to be successful in the competition. This learning process meant we had to talk to many people from the different real estate disciplines.

    What has been your favorite part of this experience so far? My favorite part of the experience thus far has been the opportunity to learn about real estate development by networking with professionals who do this work everyday. Every person we have talked to has been extremely helpful. These professionals are not getting paid for their services and yet they are doing this to help us learn the industry. Their knowledge of the market, based on their experiences, is extremely valuable to the student team. We couldn't have done it without them. Prof Cannaday has spent numerous hours helping the team too. We have a great team who has put in a lot of effort to make a successful project.

    Good luck to the team! We can't wait to hear how you do!