A recent real estate case competition netted a team of students from the Naveen Jindal School of Management a second-place finish, $3,000 and an object lesson in business networking.
Danielle Walts, who is pursuing dual degrees in Full-Time MBA and MS in Finance, heard about the competition during an Introduction to Real Estate (REAL 6321) course taught by Dr. Randall S. Guttery. She assembled a team of fellow MBA cohort members Marco Pisterzi and Daniel O’Dell, Brian Korver, who is in the Professional MBA Flex program; and Miguel Limongi, Executive MBA 2016, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in finance with a concentration in real estate.
The competition, the 12th annual Texas Shoot Out Real Estate MBA Case Challenge, was organized by the North Texas chapter of the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks, a commercial real estate development association. Teams from Baylor, SMU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UT Arlington, UT Austin and UT Dallas were tasked with developing and submitting a best and final offer price for two undeveloped parcels in Plano totaling 13.64 acres. The land is a part of Legacy Central, an 84-acre office and mixed-use development located on the site of the former Texas Instruments campus at Legacy Drive and Central Expressway.
“I just wanted to have a good showing and gain some experience,” said Limongi, who has 15 years’ experience in the accounting side of real estate. “I’ve been in real estate for a while, but I’ve never done a full case. I’ve done pieces, but I’ve never seen how a full deal is put together. I wanted to learn all that.”
The team members had a little more than two weeks to put together their case. Before they received their instructions, they reached out to Jindal School alumnus Edmund Lord, MBA 2016 — who had participated in the two previous competitions — for some high-level advice.
“I walked the team through a highest- and best-use analysis and told them to focus on clarity rather than complexity on the financial analysis part,” said Lord, a senior investment associate at Diamond Realty Investments, Inc. “I also told them that in past years we got dinged because we focused too much on putting together a good PowerPoint but didn't walk through it enough times to make it sound fluid when it was our turn to present.”
Armed with Lord’s advice, the team members received their instructions, put together their case and polished their presentation. On April 6, they presented their findings in front of a panel of seven judges —all of whom hold leadership positions in the commercial real estate industry, including some NAIOP board members and a representative from Legacy Central.
“I told my teammates that we may go into it and we may not win, but it’s important to meet people,” Walts said. “That’s a big part of how you get your name out there and people remember you. To win second place is just icing on the cake.”
The networking was important for Limongi, too. Even so, he was pleased with his team’s second-place showing (UT Austin took the first-place $6,000 prize).
“One of the judges said that, if this was a real deal, he would have put his own money into our team’s presentation,” Limongi said.
Walts took her own networking advice. She met Julie Lynch, principal at LYNOUS Talent Management, who wrote the case for this competition and was recruiting at the event.
“She offered me a temporary position for this summer,” Walts said. “When she found out I used to be a commercial real estate property manager before I came to the full-time program, she offered to turn it into an internship, so I ended up taking it. It’s a great company and a great opportunity. If it all works out, they’re looking to add someone to their staff in about year. That’s right about the same time I will be graduating.”
For Guttery, who has dedicated his career to advancing other people’s careers, the students’ experience in this competition serves as a pleasant reminder that the real-estate programs he directs are right on track in fulfilling their intended purposes of education and making connections.
“These events are such great experiences for the students,” he said. “We on the faculty are so proud of them for going above and beyond what is required of them in the classroom. They’re not only confronting real-world challenges but taking advantage of the tremendous opportunities they have to network with potential employers. The financial reward this time was pretty sweet, too.”
— Jimmie R. Markham