Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sixth annual MIPIM trip brings optimism and global connections to students

At the 2011 MIPIM conference, Professor Francois Ortalo-Magné spoke about the sun rising after the global financial crisis that rocked so many countries. This year, it was high noon and time to begin feeling optimistic about the markets again.

In March, eleven first-year real estate MBA students from the Graaskamp Center accompanied Ortalo-Magné to Cannes, France to attend MIPIM, the largest real estate conference in Europe with over 18,000 attendees. This was the sixth consecutive year that the Graaskamp Center sent its students to this global gathering of real estate professionals and public sector leaders.

The students quickly immersed themselves in the many learning and networking opportunities at MIPIM. They attended each of the thirty-nine panel discussions and presentations that were held throughout the week to both contribute to the Wisconsin Viewpoint and MIPIM World blogs covering the event and administer the annual survey to MIPIM participants in order to gauge perception of today's markets.

"More than anything else, I was struck by how the event provided a personal touchpoint to events that I otherwise only read about in the media," said first-year MBA student Ben Schmidt. "For example, though it doesn't get the most attention in the US, it's no secret that Russia and Turkey have both experienced strong economies in the past few years. It was no coincidence then that those countries' exhibitions at MIPIM were among the grandest."

The strength of the investment markets in Russia and Turkey were topics of the first day of MIPIM, as well as China and Poland. The day led off, however, with London Mayor Boris Johnson's keynote address on his "City of Regeneration," including details about the upcoming 2012 Olympics.

Students enjoyed some unique opportunities, including the chance to attend the Mayor's Summit, a closed-door event where mayors and city leaders share their experiences, ideas and best practices related to sustainable urban strategy, and networking with industry leaders. Ortalo-Magné also arranged for small-group meetings with professionals from Real Capital Analytics, SEB Asset Management, Allianz Real Estate, the Bjarke Ingels Group, and others. These meetings gave the students the opportunity to learn about the firms' experience and strategy and to get the kind of insights you won't read in the press or hear on a conference panel.

"I learned a lot from talking with these high-level global real estate professionals," said Julia Xia, a first-year MBA student. "We also attended private events hosted by various real estate firms which helped us to expand our professional connections. Through these networking opportunities, I was fortunate to line up some interviews for potential internships."

Ortalo-Magné once again delivered the final wrap-up presentation (video + slides) with senior analyst Philippe Tannenbaum with IEIF (France). He noted that attendees left MIPIM 2011 feeling more optimistic than when they arrived. Breaking the data down along public/private sector lines, about a third of the private sector and over half of the public sector representatives said their experience at MIPIM had changed their outlook for the better. While Tannenbaum observed the key words for 2011 were "risk aversion," the survey results suggested MIPIM participants were ready to explore beyond the core or safe markets.

"I was struck by the optimism of the conference," said Schmidt. "The survey we conducted for Professor Ortalo-Magné certainly bore this out: investors and professionals have seen their business solidify in the past year, and they are excited to look for new opportunities in the coming year."

For detailed coverage of all the MIPIM sessions, read more on the Wisconsin Real Estate Viewpoint. For more news and events from the Graaskamp Center, sign up for our monthly newsletter (via Constant Contact). Read the April 2011 issue here.

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