Twenty students from The Real Estate Club at The University of Texas at Dallas are participating in a leadership workshop that will help them gain insights about the industry from a North Texas real estate luminary.
The Herbert D. Weitzman Institute for Real Estate and The Real Estate Club at UTD, both based in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, are co-presenting the Born to Build Leadership Roundtable, a series of virtual events designed to provide selected club members a chance to engage with and learn from Dallas commercial real estate icon Herb Weitzman.
Each week, students will break down one or two chapters of Born to Build, a book about Weitzman’s career. Once a month, they will meet with Weitzman to discuss the readings, the current real estate market, their job searches and general questions. By the end of the program, they will have had the opportunity to get to know Weitzman and gain professional insights directly from someone who has more than six decades of industry experience. Meeting via video calls, the group gathered Feb. 12 and will meet again March 12, April 2 and May 7.
Arden Pray, a senior business administration major with a concentration in real estate investment management, and president of the real estate club, is participating in the workshop. She helped design the series and said it is intended to give students career advice.
“Herb has told me a couple of times that his favorite investment is in young people,” she said. “I think that’s why he’s so directly involved with UTD when he really doesn’t have to be. He has been an awesome connection to have for the real estate club and the program in general.”
Alejandro Jimenez, a finance junior who is a vice president of the real estate club, said he looks forward to hearing from someone who has a “ton of expertise” and advice to give students about both the real estate industry and life in general.
“He just spits out gold,” Jimenez said. “Students heed what he says.”
Weitzman recommended that students not limit themselves when beginning their real estate careers by working for a company that does not invest time and money into them. He also advised against working for a company that is too large and relegates its new employees to a limited aspect of that company’s business. Doing so hinders them from learning the basics of the business. The ultimate goal, he said is to learn how to own real estate.
“Very few people own $50 million properties or $100 million properties because of the equity that’s required,” Weitzman said during the first meeting. “That equity, it will get you, maybe, in a partnership after you have a lot of experience and you’ve proven yourself.”
For those just starting out in the industry, Weitzman said, a better long-term plan would be to begin by owning real estate.
“So what does that mean?” he asked. “That doesn’t mean you’re going out to build — a young man said to me, ‘I want to be in apartments like my father.’ That doesn’t mean you’re going out to build a 300-unit project. That means that, maybe, you start out with a duplex that you can afford and handle yourself and learn the business.”
In addition to learning from Weitzman, participating students have a chance to win prizes that are based on attendance and participation in the discussions. Prizes include lunch and a tour of Weitzman headquarters led by Weitzman and his staff members.
Amlan Mohapatra, a finance major and a club vice president, said he looks forward to the workshop because of the networking opportunities that it will facilitate.
“Ever since I started coming to UTD and going to organizations like the real estate club, one of the things [stressed] the most is networking,” he said. “We can get Weitzman and his employees to recognize us and also build our networks with members of the real estate club and other professionals.”
For Dr. Randall S. Guttery, a clinical professor in the Jindal School’s Finance and Managerial Economics Area and director of both the Real Estate Concentrations and the Weitzman Institute, this workshop holds special meaning. His decades-long friendship with Weitzman helped influence him and his wife, Donna, to make a $3 million donation to UT Dallas that established the Weitzman Institute for Real Estate.
“I am beyond thrilled about Herb’s level of participation in the institute’s events and programs,” Guttery said. “Because of his vast knowledge, experience, connections and iconic status in the North Texas commercial real estate community, our students benefit tremendously from his mentorship. It helps them better prepare for careers in the industry.”
Mohaparta said he plans to begin a career in real estate as soon as he graduates next December.
“I’m just trying to get involved with as many real estate-related events as possible just to learn as much as I can,” he said. “I want to get as much career advice as I can so I can kick-start my career in the right way.”
— Jimmie R. Markham