Monday, November 28, 2011

UW-Madison delegation finds optimism and opportunities in Asia

“Cautious optimism” is the economic outlook from Asia, according to a survey conducted at MIPIM Asia last week by the Wisconsin School of Business in cooperation with HKUST Business School.

“The strong sense of optimism that we’ve seen in the last two years in Asia has been justified,” says François Ortalo-Magné, Albert O. Nicholas Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business, who presented the survey findings at the annual real estate and investment conference in Hong Kong, which is attended by 1,800 senior real estate executives, retailers, government officials and city administrators from 41 countries. This is the third annual investor survey led by Ortalo-Magné at this conference.

An obvious reflection of this optimism is the fact that more than half of the participants surveyed at the conference reported improved or at least the same level of business activity in the current quarter compared to the same quarter last year.

“China is the unavoidable market because of the scale and the performance of the economy,” says Ortalo-Magné.

Ortalo-Magné’s visit is part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s broader efforts at deepening relationships with government, business and education leaders in China. He accompanied Gilles Bousquet, dean of the Division of International Studies and vice provost for globalization, and Laurie Dennis, associate director of the Wisconsin China Initiative (WCI), to meetings in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

“The sense that I get each time I visit Asia is that the center of gravity in the world is moving here,” says Ortalo-Magné. Last November, he accompanied former UW–Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin and her delegation on a trip to Asia intended to strengthen academic relationships in the region and promote collaborative economic development.

Bousquet adds, “We are seeking to create a unique UW presence that is consistent with the Wisconsin Idea and highlights the strengths of our world-class university, matched to the needs in China.”

UW–Madison already has a variety of connections with many of the top Chinese universities, including the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

HKUST Business School is among three of the world’s leading business schools (along with HEC Paris and INCAE-Costa Rica) in a ground-breaking partnership with the Wisconsin School of Business to offer the Global Real Estate Master (GREM) degree program. Joe Walsh, director of the program, joined Ortalo-Magné for part of his Asia trip.

“There is strong demand for high-level education in real estate in Asia,” says Walsh.

Ortalo-Magné and Walsh are working to expand the GREM program, which combines graduate-level instruction in economics, finance, and business administration at one of the partner schools with training in the principles of international real estate during a capstone semester at Wisconsin. They met with university officials, local real estate industry leaders and prospective students.

While in Hong Kong, Ortalo-Magné also addressed the American Chamber of Commerce and met officials with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), a prominent worldwide organization for professionals in property, land, construction and related environmental issues. Wisconsin’s BBA and MBA real estate degree programs have been accredited by RICS.

“When I hear this time referred to as the ‘Decade of the Pacific,’ it reinforces to me how much smaller our world is getting and in turn how important it is to have a global awareness in all we do,” says Ortalo-Magné.

-- by Kris Hammargren

Monday, November 21, 2011

Graaskamp Center Thanksgiving holiday hours

The Graaskamp Center will be closed Thursday and Friday November 24-25 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Grainger Hall will be closing at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, November 23 and will be closed on Thursday, November 24 and the weekend following, November 26-27. Grainger will be open on Friday, November 25 from 7:00 am- 5:00 pm.

Have a good holiday everyone! You can also join the conversation on Twitter:

@UWMadison It's #Thanksgiving week: Before you leave town, tell us what you're thankful for on campus! #thanksuw

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What opportunities are being sought out by Asian, European, and American investors? MIPIM Asia 2011

That was the question this morning for the panel at the wrap-up keynote at MIPIM Asia 2011. Discussion was led by Dean François Ortalo-Magné, with Yue Tang, attorney with Jun He Law Offices (China), and Dr. Megan Walters, head of research for Asia Pacific capital markets with Jones Lang LaSalle (Singapore).

Ortalo-Magné presented the results of the annual survey of conference participants, conducted by the Wisconsin School of Business in cooperation with HKUST Business School. The survey saw a justification of the optimistic outlook in Asia as reported at last year's conference, with more than half of participants reporting improved or at least the same level of business activity in the current quarter compared to the same quarter last year. "Cautious optimism" was a keyword for the future with two-thirds say they are more or as optimistic about the outlook than they were a year ago.

From Reed Midem:
The expert panel also noted increasing investment opportunities for international companies targeting mainland China as legislation seeks to open up the market to a diverse range of development companies.

Watch Part 1 of the wrap-up here. Visit mipimworld on youtube for Part 2-4.

Edited to add:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

MIPIM Asia: Macroeconomic outlook and implications

Wisconsin School of Business Dean François Ortalo-Magné is in Hong Kong this week for the annual real estate property and investment conference MIPIM Asia. He facilitated the opening keynote session today with Robert Ciemniak, global head of Thomson Reuters Real Estate Markets, and Yiping Huang, professor of economics at the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University. On Thursday, Dean Ortalo-Magné will deliver the wrap-up presentation "Where do Asian, European and American investors see opportunities in Asia today?"

Visit for the full conference schedule and more highlights

His visit to Asia is also part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison's efforts to develop stronger ties with China. The dean will join Gilles Bousquet, dean of the Division of International Studies and vice provost for globalization, and Laurie Dennis, associate director of the Wisconsin China Initiative, for meetings in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Also participating in MIPIM Asia is real estate faculty member Joe Walsh who also leads Wisconsin's Global Real Estate Master (GREM) program, an intensive graduate-level program which is partnered with three of the world's top business schools: HEC Paris, Hong Kong UST, and INCAE. While in Hong Kong, he is meeting local real estate industry leaders and prospective students. The Global Real Estate Master (GREM), which graduated its inaugural class in 2011, is a unique two-phase program that combines high-level instruction in economics, finance, and real estate finance at one of the partner schools with training in the principles of international real estate during a capstone semester at Wisconsin. The program is now accepting applications for the 2013 semester.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Real Estate Students Embrace "Movember"

Seen an unusually high number of mustaches recently? If you’re near the Wisconsin School of Business, chances are the answer to that question is a definite “yes.” That’s because a team of over 20 MBAs, including six Real Estate students, have chosen to partake in the “Movember” movement that is sweeping the globe.

Pictured (from left): Andrew, Rob, Jordan, Jay, Jeff, and Andrew.

These students (myself included) have dedicated their facial "real estate" for the month of November to raise funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. During our endeavor to master the art of fine mustachery, we effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through our actions and words, we raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.

The team has already raised over $1,000, and there's plenty of time left in the month to keep the effort going! The movement has been a great way to connect with classmates and support a very worthwhile cause. Team captain Topher Stephenson has done a great job recruiting team members, and the Graduate Business Association has assisted in promoting the cause in the Grainger Squire. We are in an "MBA Challenge" network, in which we compete against other MBA programs across the globe for the most donations received. We are currently in 8th place, and hoping to continue the strong presence!

Interested in joining the team or making a donation? Visit team Mustache MBA homepage for details!

Andrew Toby is a first-year MBA student in the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate. A CPA from California, Andrew hopes to utilize both his accounting background and the knowledge gained in the MBA program to pursue a career in private equity investments in real estate.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Real Estate Club Build Day with Habitat for Humanity!

On Friday, October 28, 2011, members from the UW Real Estate Club volunteered with the UW Madison Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds homes for families in need and provides mortgages at a zero percent interest rate. Included in the group were club members and Graaskamp Center affiliates Grant Keebler, Sam Schreiber, Kelsey Friederich, Alison Zuba, Courtney Flanders, and Martha Flanders (pictured left to right). We had gorgeous weather and a positive attitude - what better way to spend a beautiful Friday afternoon in Madison?

The house is being built for Song Vang (pictured far right), Neng Cheng, and their five adorable children. They currently live in an apartment building, infested with cockroaches and with landlords who do not care about their tenant’s living conditions. The family’s dream is to own a house one day with enough room for their children to grow up happy and healthy, in a loving and warm environment. Song devotes every weekend at the build site, working with different Madison volunteers and sharing his story. It was such a moving experience to work alongside the homeowner, Song, as his dream home was being built.

Construction began on October 1, 2011 and will continue into the winter. When we arrived, the basement was underway and we all worked on different projects ranging from measuring and cutting 2x4’s, nailing an interior wall together with three separate doorways, constructing the window supports, and a final (and very intense) group project involving the movement of a heavy shower base. The majority of the volunteers had minimal construction experience, so the day was spent learning from the other volunteer’s prior experience, from the projects director and UW-Madison Habitat representative Devin (pictured top left), from the homeowner Song, and from the project manager, Justin (pictured top right).

Working with Habitat for Humanity was an incredible experience, and is highly recommended by all of the volunteers who participated. If you are at UW student or employee and are interested in helping Song and Neng build their new home, contact Devin Burke at For more information about Real Estate Club volunteer opportunities, you can contact Courtney Flanders at

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

From full-time employee to full-time student

As part of our Meet Our Current Students series, first-year real estate MBA student Jordan Denzer reports on student real estate activities and life in general.

I’ve been in Madison for 2.5 months now. Coming from Texas, I’m thoroughly amazed at the fact that there are actually four seasons, as opposed to just two. Right now the leaves are changing colors and falling, but it’s not the standard Dallas version of trees shedding their foliage, where the leaves fall in two weeks and give an onlooker a limited visual appeal. Fall in Madison has a myriad of colors and seems in no hurry to leave. Unfortunately, both still require the prongs of a rake. I have also jumped into Madison’s bicycle culture, riding my bike as my primary means of transportation and am thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve gotten fenders put on it, so as to effectively navigate wet streets, and I understand that you can even get snow tires for winter riding, but I’ll wait and see how appealing that sounds once the snow starts hitting the ground.

I also have crossed off two items on my Wisconsin bucket list*. I have been both to a Badgers’ and Packers’ football game. While both have their strong suits, I must say that I enjoyed the Badgers’ game more than the Packers’. I love the experience of “sitting” (or more accurately, standing) in the students’ section. The student interaction with the activity of the game is great and keeps you on your toes for the next group response, counting of Bucky’s push-ups after a score or jingling of keys for a kick-off. Of course, I can’t forget to mention the “Jump Around” explosion that happens after every third quarter – those are a blast! Unfortunately though, the Badgers have now lost two games in a row (Michigan St. and Ohio St.), so any hopes of contending for the national championship are down the drain. That said, the Packers are still in the hunt, and I had the pleasure of seeing them dismantle the St. Louis Rams with a fellow international student (Canadian) at Lambeau. An unpleasantry of the Lambeau experience was dealing with scalpers and paying three times face value for our tickets. The game wasn’t nearly as interactive as the Badgers’ game either, but it did have redeeming qualities. First of all, I was in a football shrine at Lambeau and loved it. Second, the group of people I attended the game with moved tailgating from its normal pre-game position, to a 9 to 5 endeavor. Only two of the 20+ in our group went to the game, as all others stayed in the parking lot the entire time, but they weren’t lacking in comforts, as we came with a fully-enclosed packed trailer, a generator and more food and beverages than you could shake a stick at.

*Wisconsin Bucket List:
Badger football game: check
Packer football game: check
Ice fishing: pending

Now regarding academics (what I’m really here for), specifically the real estate program, there is much to be said. Two weeks ago, the Graaskamp Center had the fall meeting of its Board of Advisors, a group of senior level real estate industry leaders who are alumni and friends of the program. The meeting’s theme was, "Real Estate in Recovery: Navigating a New World of Risk and Reward", and the keynote speaker was author, UW professor and geo-political expert Jon Pevehouse. Following dinner at the newly-finished Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Pevehouse spoke regarding geo-political events in the past and present and their impact on current economic situations. One memorable point of the talk was a test that had been used to indicate the corruption level of a nation’s government. Pevehouse cited a study that had been done in New York City on parking tickets received by diplomats of foreign embassies, and he showed that the home countries of the diplomats who received the most parking tickets lined up well with high corruption levels in those countries. The following day was filled with panel discussions on the “New Risks of Global Economy,” “Understanding the Global Economy,” “Public Real Estate Markets,” “Global Strategies of Private Equity in Real Estate,” and “China’s Rise.” Between panel discussions, I had, along with the other MBA students, had the great opportunity to network with board members and discuss current issues in real estate.

On the class work front, my real estate class this semester, Real Estate Finance, has its first exam this week, so it has been a steep learning curve for this career changer (previously I managed corporate flexible spending accounts). Not only am I familiarizing myself with the various financial components involved with real estate, but I am also learning how to use my financial calculator appropriately. I’m currently using a TI BA II Plus calculator, and I encourage any prospective students reading this blog to familiarize themselves with that calculator, unless you already have a financial calculator with which you’re comfortable. The more you have under your belt prior to entering the program, the more it will serve you in the long run, as you’ll be able to focus solely on the course material and will not have to worry regarding calculators and computer programs. That said, I’ve found that classmates who are more advanced in certain subject matters are eager and willing to help you, so it makes for a supportive learning environment. You don’t feel like your out on an island, but that you are in it together with your classmates.

Later this month, I’m looking forward to hearing from Dan McCaffery, Chairman and CEO of McCaffrey Interests in Chicago. He will be the featured speaker in the E.J. Plesko Distinguished Speaker Series in Real Estate Development on November 11. The series features developers who embody the "Wisconsin tradition" in their spirit, imagination, entrepreneurial skills, and enthusiasm for improving the quality of the built environment. It's also a great complement to the Center's real estate curriculum.

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.