Friday, February 3, 2012

Brad Olsen Visits Real Estate Club

Brad Olsen of Atlantic Partners spoke at the Real Estate Club meeting to kick of the spring semester and help prepare the students for the upcoming Real Estate Club job fair. Olsen is a longtime friend of the Real Estate program and has been coming to speak since 1983. In an effort to date his start with the program, he cited an early talk he gave as being the impetus for now retired Senior Lecturer Rod Matthews’ efforts to transform UW into a hub for international real estate. He asked for a show of hands from the 100+ students and staff in attendance as to who possessed a passport. All but three had a passport, whereas at the beginning of Olsen’s relationship with UW, only two individuals had possessed passports. In no uncertain terms, Olsen made it clear how broad-ranging the scope of the program has come.

Olsen did his undergrad work at Princeton and received his JD from Harvard. Following six years in law, he moved into the real estate arena, where he helped Richard Ellis to raise money for investment into real estate funds. In 1994, Olsen got tired of living in Chicago, so he left Richard Ellis and moved to Florida, where he subsequently played 66 rounds of golf in three months. He and his wife eventually landed in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he formed Atlantic Partners.

At Atlantic Partners, Olsen works to link global capital with US real estate. Most recently, he’s been working with USAA to raise money in Europe for a fund that is buying government-leased office buildings. As Olsen describes it, “I’m eHarmony for real estate investors. I’m in the business of relationships.” Olsen spends 70% of his time raising capital and 30% advising European investors on US Assets.

Following his history and current dealings, Olsen began coaching the students on how to best prepare for the upcoming job fair. He first asked the students for a show of hands of who had reviewed his website when they learned that he was coming to speak. He used this to transition into the importance of reviewing the 30+ employers coming to the career fair and honing in on those in which you’re interested. He then advised students to be looking for a connection point with the potential employers. He cited the ability it gives you to differentiate yourself in the eyes of recruiters from other candidates. As a follow up he advised students to always send a thank you email and to not be afraid to follow up periodically, but to be sure that the follow up is substantive as opposed to simply a “tickler” email. He recommended that if a student found an online article which he thought would be of particular interest to a person, to email that article to their contact along with a brief note. Olsen closed by citing the overall strength of the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association, and its spot as one of the top alumni associations in the US. He urged students to join and to utilize that tool.

The next morning, Olsen met with the 1st year MBA students to discuss strategy for their upcoming visit to the MIPIM conference in Cannes France, at which Dean François Ortalo-Magné will be giving the wrap-up keynote address (click here to see our past coverage of MIPIM). Then the Global Real Estate Masters (GREM) students joined in the second hour and Olsen dialogued on international topics such as German life insurance groups’ movement into investing in real estate debt.

The University of Wisconsin Real Estate program was honored to have Brad Olsen come and invest his time and is perpetually thankful for his selfless commitment to the program.

Jordan Denzer comes to Madison from Dallas, TX (it is often joked that he is one of the international students). Previously, Jordan managed corporate flexible spending accounts, but decided that he wanted to get into real estate development, which initiated the move to Madison. Currently, Jordan is interested in getting into historic redevelopment and/or mixed-use development projects.

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