Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reconnecting, re-energizing and readjusting

by Kris Hammargren, Senior Associate Director for the Graaskamp Center

Students are starting to arrive on campus (classes begin Thursday), full of stories about summer break. Their activities included internships or project work as well as some well-earned relaxation. But what have our faculty been doing during the summer break?

Faculty and staff of the Wisconsin Real Estate Program have a full plate of activities and responsibilities during the academic year and the summer is no different. Time away from the classroom is spent on participation in professional activities and in renewing important relationships.

I spoke with Professor and Department Chair François Ortalo-Magné about what he has been up to during the break.

Kris Hammargren: Participating in industry conferences is important for anyone who wants to stay up to date on business challenges and opportunities. What did you get out of your visit to ICSC’s RECon Global Real Estate Convention in May?

François Ortalo-Magné: I connected with Bruce Johnson, who is executive vice president and CFO of Regency Centers. Bruce allowed me to shadow him for an investment dinner and 30 meetings in two days at ICSC. It provided me with a fascinating window into the work of the CFO of a public-listed real estate company. It’s very important for me as department chair to have a grounding in the business world, to understand the practical approach of someone like Bruce, to know what it’s like for a top executive to manage his business relationships. We saw a wide cross-section of industry players, met investors, and I learned right there on the frontline great lessons that I will take back to our students.

KH: Bruce is a Wisconsin Real Estate alum who has a long history of involvement with the program. How are relationships like this important?

FOM: Relationships with our alumni are a priority for me. I enjoy connecting with former students of mine, and I love meeting with longtime alumni of Wisconsin real estate. This summer, I was happy to meet with many alumni and friends of the program at ICSC in Las Vegas and also on my travels to New York, Boston and Denver. These meetings are opportunities for me to share with them our plans for the future, get their suggestions to address our concerns, and, just as I did with Bruce, to learn about their business, their values, their successes and failures--lessons which I share with students back in Madison. I always get great feedback and ideas from our alumni. They are experts in real estate, and they share our values (or, I should say, we share their values). Most importantly for me maybe, I get a rush of energy and enthusiasm from their support. There is no greater satisfaction for a professor than to meet former students happy about where their education got them and to meet alumni who are proud of and grateful for the steps we are taking in Madison to continue enhancing the quality and the reach of the membership of the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association.

KH: In addition to work in the U.S., you’ve also been active in France, working with the French government. Would you tell us more about that?

FOM: I have been advising the French government on its efforts to reform the French housing policy. It’s a great challenge: the French housing market is distorted by a multitude of policies that were designed with various non-housing objectives in mind (e.g., to stimulate the economy, to earn the votes of a number of constituencies). The ongoing budget crisis in France and a recent generational change in many government offices has provided an opportunity to clean things up. I try to help by providing “mechanical” support, helping policymakers understand how to best achieve their objectives. The main difficulty with housing lies in understanding how housing prices react to policy intervention, often to transfer the benefits of a policy away from the intended recipient (that’s RE420 or RE720 – urban economics!). Here is a concrete example: If we give young households a subsidized loan to buy their first property in the most expensive French cities while not allowing more supply to be built, we are just helping the current owners in these cities by increasing demand for their property. So subsidizing housing purchases in places where housing is expensive and supply is tight does not resolve the affordability issue that preoccupies the politician. Starting this fall, it looks like the French government may condition the availability of subsidized loans on the release of new building permits by the local authorities. That would be a step in the right direction.

KH: Thank you, François. Like you, I think we’ve all been renewed and re-energized over the summer and are ready to step-up to the new school year.

For more information on our faculty’s activities this summer, check out this previous post with Professor and Graaskamp Center Academic Director Stephen Malpezzi.

Photo by Steve Becker © Steve Becker Media

Monday, August 23, 2010

New MBA student welcome from our new Academic Director of the Real Estate MBA Program

Morris A. Davis, Associate Professor, Real Estate and Urban Land Economics at Wisconsin, is taking on a new role this year as the Academic Director for the Real Estate MBA Program. He met the new class of 2012 MBA students during orientation and shared these thoughts on their partnership with the Wisconsin Real Estate Tradition.
Welcome Class of 2012!

Here is my brief story: I was born in Philadelphia -- a long time ago. I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993 with a degree in economics and stayed on at Penn to get my Ph.D., also in economics. I completed my studies in 1998 and took a job at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC. After a brief sojourn to work for a small high-tech company in Reston, VA, I returned to the Fed in 2002 to take a position as Alan Greenspan’s housing analyst. I then left the Fed (again) in 2006 to join the Real Estate Department here at UW.

When the Real Estate group first approached me about the possibility of becoming a faculty member, I was honored to be considered. For two reasons. First, it is widely known among academics that the faculty here are the best in the world. Second, the study of real estate essentially started at Wisconsin. James Graaskamp is a name we know and admire, for the right reasons, but much of our current culture begins with Richard Ely. Ely started real estate studies at Wisconsin. Most importantly, Ely shaped our current value system. He would not back away from what he believed in – discovery and integrity – even in the face of long odds, in perhaps the best known episode of his life, being accused of “sedition” that could have lead to his dismissal from the university. Ely’s tenacity and greatness are inspirational.

Given this background, I view my new position as having two complementary objectives. First, I – rather we – must prepare you for the next step in your career ladder. Second, we must prepare you to be alums, and to assume and contribute to the tradition of Wisconsin Real Estate.

There’s a lot of thought that goes into these preparations. We must make sure you have a coherent course load that teaches you the basics of business while offering in-depth study of all facets of real estate theory and practice. We must provide you opportunities to study global business practices and to network with local and global business leaders. And we have to help you decide what the next stage of your career looks like, and help you plan to get there.

We must also teach the basics of what it means to be an alum of the Graaskamp Center. Respect. Honesty. Integrity. Values. Leadership. We did not become great because some otherwise forgettable people lucked into a few good deals. Our greatness comes from our history of outstanding human capital. Wisconsin Real Estate alumni are great men and women. I’ve met them, and they are leaders. They deserve and command respect in their business dealings because of their innovation in the field, their savvy in their deal-making and partnerships, and their integrity and their treatment of others in their business and personal lives.

So, we want to immerse you and your class in the basics of leadership, starting with dressing professionally inside Grainger Hall and on any Real Estate functions. Well-dressed men and women have an edge in any business situation. They are more likely to be treated with respect by their peers and are more likely to speak with thought. Even in 2010, the old adage that “the clothes make the man” rings true.

Next is something I learned from my experiences in business: carry yourself and speak professionally and with respect at all times. Most importantly this includes
respecting the thoughts and opinions of those who disagree with you. Look to your own business experiences–in law, health care, finance, or development. Who were the individuals who got promoted? How did they act? In my experience, leaders in successful organizations lead everyone, not just the people they like. They may not agree with everyone, but they always respect the thoughts and ideas of others around them. Talk with our alumni, and you’ll see they follow this rule. It is part of our tradition.

The final guideline is to act like a leader. If something bothers you, do not simply complain. Work with your peers and with Center staff and faculty to solve problems and create opportunities. In the business world, employees who complain get fired. People who identify problems and then work to solve them get promoted.

Think of today as the fresh start to your new career. What do you want that career to be? How do you want to represent yourself? I know what I expect from you. At the end of your two years here, I want to be able to call up any of our alumni, friends, or contacts on your behalf and be able to truthfully say that you are now qualified to maintain the Graaskamp Center tradition of excellence, integrity, leadership, and values.

I look forward to working with you.
UPDATE: You can view the new partnership agreement with the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA Class of 2012 here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How to pitch a deal

by François Ortalo-Magné, Department Chair, Professor and Robert E. Wangard Chair of Real Estate

I was recently in New York where I had the opportunity to meet with alumni Marc Warren (BBA '85), president of Linear Realty Capital. Among other things, we talked about the soft skills that our students need to complement their analytical skills. Marc suggested a short video from entrepreneur David Rose on how to pitch a deal. I like the content, and the fact that he makes me sound like a slow talker. His advice applies to many more contexts than just the specifics of pitching to a VC (e.g., see the recommendation at minute 13:00).

Watch the TED Talks video and share your thoughts below.


U.S. News & World Report ranks Wisconsin Real Estate #2

U.S. News & World Report just released its annual rankings of U.S. undergraduate business programs for 2011. The Wisconsin Real Estate program again ranks second among all U.S. undergrad real estate programs.

The Wisconsin School of Business ranks 14th overall among business schools, seventh among public institutions, and third in the Big Ten.

On Wisconsin!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wisconsin Real Estate goes to Costa Rica

Wisconsin Real Estate is visiting INCAE in Central America this week! Faculty Associate Joe Walsh, one of the administrators of our Global Real Estate Master program, is on campus in Costa Rica for a series of visits with faculty and staff of the top-ranked business school plus meetings with local industry leaders and students. We're grateful to Guillermo Selva and everyone at INCAE for arranging the schedule for the visit.

Wisconsin's new Global Real Estate Master (GREM) degree program is a partnership between three of the world's top business schools--INCAE, HEC Paris and the HKUST Business School--and the top ranked Wisconsin Real Estate Program. This unique initiative brings students from all corners of the globe to study the best in real estate education in Madison. The inaugural GREM class will arrive on campus in January 2011 for an intensive spring semester of activity.

To learn more about the GREM partnership, visit www.bus.wisc.edu/grem/. Or click on INCAE's GREM program page.