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Top tags: Case Competitions 

Alum Alissa Adler Dialogs with the Real Estate Club

Posted By Maria-Elena Svigos, Tuesday, March 12, 2019




The Real Estate Club welcomed Alissa Adler (BS, 1988; MS, 1989) to their March 8, 2019 meeting. Mrs. Adler, Managing Principal at Podolsky Circle, boasts more that 29 years in the real estate industry. With experience in asset management, acquisition, advisory, brokerage and real estate investment, she has truly seen all walks of the real estate trade. Alissa began her presentation with some career highlights which include over $1.2 billion in transactions, institutional and entrepreneurial investments, owning and brokering real estate properties, working all around the nation on both the operational and transactional side of a deal, and earning both an undergraduate and graduate real estate degrees.


Podolsky Circle CORFAC International is a wide-range real estate advisory that specializes in office, industrial and retail markets offering brokerage, property and asset management and advisory for debt and equity placement. Alissa serves as Managing Principal at the firm and specializes in investment sales, debt and equity placement, due diligence and asset management. Prior to its merge to form Podolsky Circle, Alissa established Circle Realty Advisors LLC and serves as President. She was also Vice President of Acquisition & Disposition for Duke Realty and Equity Office Properties Trust.


With such incredible experience in the industry, Mrs. Adler offered great words of advice for the Real Estate Club’s undergraduate and MBA students. She encouraged students to “Know Your Type” when it comes to choosing a career within the industry – whether they are math-oriented, outgoing person, or tolerable of long hours and long-term stability, there are positions for all of their preferences and skills. She discussed how they could start personally investing in real estate and where to start their careers (and where it could lead!)


To conclude, Alissa shared tips for interviewing. She told students to be thorough with their resumes, work on communications skills, be conscientious with response time and thank you’s and to monitor their social media presence. She shared her five keys to standing out and succeeding in the industry: join organizations, start a personal database, build a network, take notes, and work hard.


Many thanks to Alissa Adler for her encouraging words to students last week. The Club’s Innovator Award meeting will be Thursday, March 28th.

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New WIRE (Women in Real Estate) Club Takes Members to Chicago

Posted By Maria-Elena Svigos, Blue Vista Capital Management, Wednesday, March 6, 2019


The WIRE (Women in Real Estate) Club was formed last spring by seniors Ali Petrick and Maddie Fricker, who felt it would be beneficial for women in the UW program studying real estate to come together, network with one another, and learn from professionals.  WIRE holds multiple professional events and career panels during the semester, featuring companies such as Wells Fargo, Cushman & Wakefield, Heitman, etc. The student organization also offers social events for members to get to know one another in a casual setting along with a mentorship program between students. 


As reflected in their mission statement, the organization is committed to building a community of women who wish to pursue real estate careers and to connect these women with professionals, therefore promoting confidence and success in a male-dominated industry. WIRE organizers aspire to create a sense of community among females in the Real Estate major at UW-Madison and give their members a chance to meet and develop relationships with women in the industry through speaker events and club trips. 

Last weekend, WIRE members traveled to Chicago to visit with some of the industry’s leading companies. The young women met with Barings, MetLife, Ernst & Young, and Norcon and had an incredibly positive experience. They engaged with many alumni of the program, including Managing Director at Barings Real Estate Advisors, Pamela Boneham and Senior Analyst and Analyst at Metlife, Megan Clower and Allison Timmerman.


Junior Paige Reimann says that "The WIRE trip to Chicago was a great opportunity to get a chance to learn from women leaders in the industry and to bond with fellow real estate majors from UW. It is an opportunity that will help shape my career as I figure out what aspect of real estate I want to go into. I am looking forward to the trip next year!" 



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Real Estate Club Hosts 19th Annual Career Fair

Posted By Maria-Elena Svigos, Blue Vista Capital Management, Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2019


39 companies, dozens of MBA and undergraduate students, all with a common goal: to make connections and start their careers. The Real Estate Club Career Fair was a great opportunity for students seeking internships and full-time employment to gain exposure to almost 40 of the industry’s top companies. Small and large companies from both the debt and equity sides and in both private and public sectors come out to meet these students each year.


Employer and Wisconsin graduate, Griffin Epping (BBA 2018), told us, “the Real Estate Club Career Fair is unlike any other fairs on campus. It is all about conversing, connecting; and, hopefully, landing a job. I remember when I was a student, I wasn’t intimidated to come to this event. I saw it as a unique assembly of some of the greatest companies across all sectors of the industry, and I had the opportunity to speak with all of them.”


The event was held on Monday February 18, at Union South, with over four hours of planned events. The night started with heavy hor d’oeuvres at large sit-down tables for relaxed dinner and high-top tables for network opportunities with students. Then, the whole group moved to the Varsity Room where booths set up for each company. After two hours of resumé-swapping, networking, and learning more about employment opportunities, both students and employers went down to The Sett for a Reception and casual cocktail hour.


Senior Katie Gaché mentions that the career fair “lets you to chat with so many possible employers, whether it’s at their booth or over hor d'oeuvres. It’s so unique for that reason. There are three [sometimes four] well-planned events that allow you the chance to talk to whoever you set your eyes on… more than once.”


The Career fair is an excellent opportunity to recruit for internships and entry level positions. This year’s Fair was a success; but, if you missed it, be sure to showcase your company next year! A big thanks to those recruiters who made the trip, we appreciate your coming and hope you hire many RE Badgers.

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MBA Team in Top Three at the UNC-Chapel Hill Case Competition

Posted By Mandy Kaegy, Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association, Inc., Monday, February 25, 2019



The UW-Madison MBA Real Estate team,  Bryan Johnson (MBA 2019), Joel Schneider (MBA 2019), Charlotte Du (MBA 2019), and Justin Kremers (MBA 2019), (pictured left to right above) placed 2nd at the 2019 UNC-Chapel Hill Real Estate Development Challenge.  A formidable field of 14 top MBA schools in the country participated in the competition including the Leonard N. Stern School of Business (NYU) , Columbia Business School, Kellogg School of Management  (Northwestern), The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania), and the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley).


The team was assembled following two case competitions within the RE750 class. Case Competition advisor, Arif Qureshi, noted that each team member earned a spot on the team by emerging as a top performer in the following skills: presenter, market research, SketchUp modeling and financial analysis.


The team developed a feasibility proposal for a 3.6-acre site in Dania Beach, FL along the waterway. Their proposal encompassed 177 key hotel, 30K SF of retail and 31 water slips financed with a mortgage, city grant, seller financing, limited partner equity, and managing partner developer/operator equity. The project delivered an overall 16% IRR and 2.0 equity multiple while providing a risk mitigation strategy from acquisition to exit.


Kenan-Flagler Business School (UNC) received first place honors, and Duke rounded out the top three with a third place finish. This outcome marks the 4th final round finish out of five attempts, making UW-Madison the most consistent team to make the final round in this competition.  Congrats to all!

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UW-Madison BBA Team Competes in Toronto Case Competition

Posted By Mandy Kaegy, Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association, Inc., Monday, February 25, 2019



A team of four UW-BBA Real Estate students competed at the 2019 Ryerson Toronto Expand Your Empire case competition in early February. The team, consisting of Andrew Greiner, Mathew Reynolds, Sean Casey and Charlie Monnat (left to right), vied against a field of 12 extremely able teams, and brought home a second-place finish and a $5,000 prize. 


The team developed a feasibility proposal for a 4.9-acre city-owned site located in Toronto's Etobicoke submarket. Their proposal for the site included 2 towers of housing (436 Affordable, 624 Market), 150 key Hotel, 75K SF Retail, 1,220 Parking Stalls, 100K SF of community plaza space, Mi-Way Bus Terminal, and underground integration of TTC Islington Subway Station.  The project delivered 15% IRR and 2.7x equity multiple over a 10-year hold period while providing a risk mitigation strategy from acquisition to exit.  


Case competition advisor, Arif Qureshi, said “The team gave two outstanding presentations, receiving rave reviews from the judges, and were excellent ambassadors of the UW-real estate program.”  The team finished second behind Wharton, with the home team, Ryerson University filling in the top three.A special thanks to David Kim for his continued support of the case competition program at UW-Madison.  Congratulations to all!

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Michael Moran (BA 1988), Managing Director at Allstate Investments, Speaks to Real Estate Club

Posted By Maria-Elena Svigos, Blue Vista Capital Management, Tuesday, February 19, 2019


Michael Moran, Managing Director and Vice President of Private Real Estate at Allstate Investments joined the Real Estate Club last Thursday to share his experience in the private equity and debt sectors. Mr. Moran is in charge of managing Allstate’s $10 billion commercial real estate investment portfolio where he is responsible for all aspects of acquisitions and portfolio management for the corporation’s commercial mortgage loan origination program and expansive equity investment activities.


Michael graduated from UW-Madison in 1988 with a BS in Real Estate and Finance. After graduation, he began his career at Arthur Andersen and later joined Duff and Phelps. Michael began his career at Allstate in 1996 as an analyst, and has since assumed positions as CMBS Portfolio Manager, Real Estate Investment Portfolio Manager and now, the Head of Real Estate.


Mr. Moran discussed Allstate’s investment process, why the process matters to insurance companies, and where real estate investment specifically fit in the equation. He discussed their total capital allocation equation, which is made up of equity and fixed income, and geographically, where Allstate is looking to invest today. Mr. Moran ended his presentation by highlighting some recent deals that Allstate has done in Boston, San Diego, and Chicago, across all property types. He encouraged students to develop the connections they create within the real estate program because they will run into Badgers throughout their whole career!


Students of the Real Estate Club enjoyed having Mr. Moran back in Madison to share his experiences and insights into the industry. The Club’s next meeting will be March 7th at the Pyle Center.

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Jaime Fink Discusses His Journey Through the Real Estate Industry and His Lasting Connections from the Program

Posted By Maria-Elena Svigos, Blue Vista Capital Management, Monday, February 11, 2019


Jaime Fink (MS 1997) was recently elected to the WREAA Board of Directors as an At-Large Director.  In this post, he talks with Social Media Intern Maria-Elena Svigos (BBA 2019).  They discuss his journey to HFF, his lasting connections from the Wisconsin Real Estate Program, and his advice for students navigating the industry today. 



Please share your real estate work experience after graduating from the UW and how it led you to brokerage, and specifically HFF.


I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison thru a 4-year Air Force ROTC scholarship and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.  After graduation, I was commissioned as a U.S. Air Force officer and was based out of the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, California.  I worked on mobile and fixed installation systems for the Defense Support Program (now Space-Based Infrared System) and spacecraft for the Global Positioning System. After my active duty service ended, I attended graduate school and earned a Master of Science degree in Real Estate and Urban Land Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


While in graduate school, I was fortunate to have two internships. The first internship was at the State of Wisconsin Investment Board and the second internship was at Equity Residential.  Both internships were very interesting and educational, which gave me great insights into the real estate industry. In 1998, after graduation, I was hired by Eastdil and worked there for 6 years. Then, I transitioned to HFF in 2004 and have been here ever since. When I began at HFF, my primary focus was office investment sale transactions, but I also did multi-housing, retail, industrial and hotel investment sale and equity placement transactions. 



Not only are you now the Senior Managing Director of HFF’s Chicago office, but you are also co-founder of HFF’s Global Capital Team. Can you talk a little bit about this team?


A year after I moved to HFF, I co-founded the Global Capital team with a couple of my HFF colleagues. Our focus is bringing cross border capital to U.S. real estate.  Early on in my career at HFF, I saw a need to get a good understanding of what foreign investors want to buy and to make them aware of HFF. In the beginning, Europe was the focal point, but as the team has grown, we’ve gone on to include other parts of the world such as Canada, Israel, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Korea, China, the Arabian Gulf nations, South and Central America.  



You have over 20 years of real estate expertise and $23 billion in transactions, with deals that include the Willis Tower, the Old Chicago Post Office Building and the Civic Opera Building. What has been the most enjoyable or unique deal that you have worked on?


There have been a lot of interesting and challenging transactions.  My business partners and I were very fortunate to work on the Blackstone/Equity Office Portfolio sale in Chicago. It was in 2007, which was a very exciting time, and the portfolio was very large, consisting of $2.77 billion of assets that included more than 12 million square feet of office space in the Chicago area. We knew that a portfolio of this size would likely never be assembled again in Chicago. In addition, we had an exceptional client, Blackstone, that was wonderful to work with on the transaction.  Other buildings, like the Willis Tower, are traded multiple times, but the Blackstone/Equity Office Portfolio was a once in a lifetime event and there was a tremendous amount of interest and excitement in the deal. 300 North LaSalle was another memorable transaction.  We had an excellent client, KBS, and a great buyer, Irvine Company, that performed phenomenally on the acquisition.  300 North LaSalle set a record in Chicago for highest price per square foot for a large office building, a record that still hasn’t been broken yet. 



How do you stay connected to and involved with the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Network?


Wisconsin has a great real estate alumni association. I consistently attend the reunion every two years and the Trends Conference that occurs in the opposite years, as well as the regional get-togethers. I feel that if I consistently attend these events, I can network and keep in touch with the alumni as well as meet new people coming out of the program. I cover Europe and Canada for HFF on the global capital front, and there are two major conferences in Europe, Expo Real in Munich and MIPIM in Cannes. Wisconsin has a fantastic program that sends students to these conferences and I always try to coordinate with them. When the students arrive, I meet them and talk about real estate, give them my perspective on the global capital markets and where we see capital flowing, as well as give the students some guidance about the conferences. I enjoy this as much as they do. Doing this allows me to connect with graduating students and I enjoy seeing how their careers progress overtime. It’s amazing to see some of the high-quality people that Wisconsin is putting out into the real estate community.



How have you benefited from being a member of the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association? 


I believe you get out of it what you put into it.  You don’t need to be on the Board to be an active participant.  You can help out in the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Program as a guide for graduating students. One of the key things I learned as a graduate student of Wisconsin was to reach out to alumni.   I have always remembered the alumni that called me back. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for those people who helped me out early on in my career.  Those alumni were a big influence on my career, and I am very appreciative of that. Because of my experience, when a student from Wisconsin calls me up, I always try to respond right away. Even though I can’t offer everyone a job, I’m always here for them to call up and bounce ideas off of about career paths and how to pursue their passion.  One of the key things that alumni can do to give back to the program, is to offer their time and efforts. Donations are always appreciated as well, but your time is key.



What advice do you have for current students who will soon become commercial real estate professionals?


Never stop networking and expanding your group of business professional associates. You can never have enough friends. You can never have enough people you know in the real estate community. When people reach out to me, I respond and say, “Do one favor for me. At some point in your career, a Wisconsin grad or student will call you up and ask you for some guidance. Promise me you’ll call them back and help them.” If everyone does that, we all help each other ultimately.  I’m happy to give my time and talk to people, I just want the people I’m helping to also help others. In every graduating class there are people who, with the help of others in the Wisconsin Network, go on to be executives in their own companies and have some amazing careers, developing knowledge and influence along the way.   It’s important to pay back the help you’ve received by responding to the students that are graduating and reaching out to you.

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Atlantic Partners' Bradley Olsen Returns to Campus to Discuss International Real Estate

Posted By Maria-Elena Svigos, Blue Vista Capital Management, Thursday, February 7, 2019


Bradley Olsen, President of Atlantic Partners, returned to the Graaskamp Center early this week to discuss international real estate with a group of MBA and undergraduate students. Mr. Olsen has been a friend of the Wisconsin Real Estate program for over 35 years, making his first visit to campus in the early 1980’s, and has continued his relationship with students and faculty ever since. Mr. Olsen left corporate life to start his own real estate investment company and has a simple business model: “invest in wherever I want to be, work with people I trust and respect, and create projects that I’m interested in.” With a vast knowledge of international real estate, politics, and geo-economics, Mr. Olsen described Atlantic Partners as an intermediary in the movement of capital between North America and Europe.


Mr. Olsen presented about the current state of Europe’s real estate industry, strong-performing countries and sectors that are “hot” throughout the continent. He touched on current topics such as Brexit, French elections, migration amongst the continent and decreasing interest rates. He raised questions to the students about where they see international trends heading and encouraged them to consider global real estate in their career paths.


A small group of Graaskamp MBA’s will be attending the MIPIM conference in Cannes, France this upcoming March and these students agreed that Mr. Olsen prepared them well for their international travels. They were excited to have Bradley Olsen back on campus and look forward to his next visit.

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The Real Estate Club Kicks off Semester with CubeSmart's Christopher Marr

Posted By Maria-Elena Svigos, Monday, February 4, 2019


The Real Estate Club kicked off the Spring Semester with an insightful and interactive presentation by Christopher P. Marr, the CEO of CubeSmart, a publicly-traded self-storage REIT. With over 20 years of real estate investment trust executive management experience, Mr. Marr began his career at CubeSmart as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer in 2006 and was responsible for the successful repositioning of the Company’s portfolio after the Great Recession. He later assumed the roles of President, Chief Investment Officer, and Chief Operating Officer before assuming his current role as CEO in 2014.


Mr. Marr gave the Club an overview of the self-storage industry, an asset class that he believes will continue to evolve to become one of the core investment classes of the future. He discussed many aspects of CubeSmart’s product and presence in the real estate industry, its large customer base and growing demand on a national level, as well as its ability to withhold high investor returns in both a boom and bust economy. Mr. Marr shared CubeSmart’s initiatives to continue to evolve and adapt, specifically in transformational transactions as they relate to recycling and environmentally-conscious decisions.


Mr. Marr’s presentation was collaborative and engaging; he would often pause and open the floor for questions by students and attendees. He was able to simplify the operations of CubeSmart, the sector’s third largest publicly-traded REIT, into a comprehensive demonstration for undergraduate and graduate students to understand. To conclude his presentation, Mr. Marr offered his four “keys to being successful,” in both the real estate industry and in life. He told students to “1. Be optimistic 2. Take risks 3. Have Resilience and 4. Make Lasting Connections.” He applauded the Wisconsin Real Estate program for its emphasis on keeping connections throughout the industry.


Students of the Real Estate Club enjoyed having Mr. Marr in Wisconsin to share his experiences and insights into the industry. The Club’s next meeting with be Thursday, February 16th.

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Who Was James A. Graaskamp?

Posted By David Walsh, Greystar, Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Real Estate Badgers first hear the name James A. Graaskamp during the introductory real estate course in Madison. They learn that “The Chief”, as he was fondly called, helped to grow the Wisconsin real estate program to national recognition. Many alumni had the good fortune of learning directly from Jim Graaskamp during his time teaching at UW. However, those who joined UW’s reputable real estate program following Jim’s death in 1988 may know little of the legendary professor and mentor who inspired countless real estate students to excellence.


James Arnold Graaskamp was born in the summer of 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to a family of German and Dutch origin. He grew up enjoying football, fishing, and spending summers up north. Fishing would be one of James’ primary passions throughout the entirety of his life.


In high school, the 6’6” Jim was a standout on the football team. His hard work was rewarded with a football scholarship to Harvard. At age 17, Jim was paralyzed from the shoulders down by polio and the course of his life was changed. However, he described the disability as a “materials handling problem,” and refused to succumb to self-pity. To that point, Jim later told his partner Jean Davis that the pain in his father’s eyes, that he knew Jim would never walk again, motivated him to work hard and become successful. In this pursuit, Jim went on to receive a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. He received an MBA degree in Finance, specializing in security analysis, from Marquette University. Finally, he received a dual PhD in Risk Management and Urban Land Economics from the University of Wisconsin.


The Chief taught at Marquette prior to joining the UW-Madison faculty in 1964. By 1968, Jim was the chairman of the Real Estate Department, and held that position until his untimely death in 1988. During his time teaching in Madison, Jim challenged students to apply their educational topics to real world projects. He taught a demanding curriculum and utilized examples from his own real estate consulting company, Landmark Research, to bolster understanding. In the fall of 1976, Jim founded the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association (WREAA) alongside Don Evans (MS ’64), a member of the first masters class to graduate under Jim’s instruction (the “Magnificent Seven”), and Jim Curtis (MS ’76). The Chief was very involved in the well-being of his students, developing strong relationships and mentoring many. He dedicated his time and efforts to assisting his students in job placement and pursuit of career goals.


Jim continued to pursue his passions despite his paralysis. His travels included fishing in Alaska and scuba diving in Hawaii. Jim hired students to be live-in aides during his time at UW, and frequently took these students on his trips with him, whether to present at other institutions or deep-sea fish. These students had a unique perspective on the life, ingenuity, and attitude of James Graaskamp.


Jim died in Madison on April 22, 1988. His contributions to the real estate industry and the University of Wisconsin continue to be remembered. His publications, including A Guide to Feasibility Analysis and a treatise on portfolio management theory for real properties, remain highly regarded and referenced by professionals. In addition to founding Landmark Research, Inc., he served as a member of the Real Estate Advisory Board of Salomon Brothers, and received numerous awards for his expertise in feasibility analysis and appraisal. The University of Wisconsin Center for Real Estate was officially named the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate in 2007 with the generous support of nearly 600 alumni and friends who raised approximately 11 million dollars to honor the memory of their extraordinary teacher, mentor and friend.


The 30th Anniversary Special Edition of Graaskamp on Real Estate, considered one of the best real estate analysis and development books ever written, is now available. It has been edited by Stephen P. Jarchow, who has generously agreed to donate 30% of the proceeds from the book sales to the Graaskamp Center for Real Estate. The book is a collection of class notes, unpublished materials, and academic treatises from The Chief’s time at UW. To learn more and purchase the book, please visit www.graaskamponrealestate.com.


"Real estate should be taught as a process of dynamic interactions rather than functional or historical facts. The result should be a real estate entrepreneur with the creativity of Leonardo DaVinci, the sensitivity of the natural world of John Muir, and the political humanity with cash management for profit skills of James Rouse. Of course, the graduate student should be something more!"  - James A. Graaskamp

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