Jindal Team Defends Title in 2014 ICSC Real Estate Case Competition

Case Competition Winners

JSOM team members (left to right) Kimberly Son, Robin Ahmadi, Brianna Davis and Jeremy Bragg with team mentor Michelle Miller

A team of four Naveen Jindal School of Management undergraduates is focused on defending the first-place title UT Dallas earned last year in the inaugural International Council of Shopping Centers case competition. Three seniors — Robin Ahmadi, Jeremy Bragg and Kimberly Son — and sophomore Brianna Davis are competing Nov. 12 at the council’s annual Texas Conference and Deal Making in the Dallas convention center.

The Jindal School team came in first in the inaugural event last year and earned $4,000.

This year, Michelle Miller, corporate relations director for JSOM, Dr. Randall Guttery, the director of the school’s real estate concentrations, and George DeCourcy, the associate director, interviewed and selected the team in May from candidates who had completed at least one real estate course.

Interest in the nascent competition has grown. Eleven colleges have requested competition packets with teams from across Texas seeking bragging rights — and cash. And this year, with plans to take the case competition back to their home regions, officers from four other regional ICSC groups will be observing the Texas competition.

Miller, the team mentor, has been holding weekly meetings with the foursome to review real estate issues, including appraisals, rent rates, neighborhood values, traffic studies and more.

After the case was released to students on Oct. 23, Ahmadi predicted they would be meeting as often as possible, with tasks divided according to skill sets. He classifies himself a “numbers” person who would focus on values, comps and other numbers-type details while other teammates deal with construction, visuals and tenant mix.

Miller, again serving as team mentor, says the JSOM curriculum, with its emphasis on analytics and finance, played into the team’s success last year, and she expects that will help Jindal School students this year, too. “The maturity and diversity of the students was a huge factor, too,” she says, noting that JSOM students’ perspectives allowed them to approach any issue the judges raised from multiple angles. “They always had an answer.”

Another success factor was that two JSOM alumni stepped up to advise the four students. This year, the JSOM team has four industry advisors — all alumni — including Doug Hermann, who was on the winning team last year. Hermann, who earned his bachelor’s degree in finance in May, is now at The Weitzman Group in Dallas.

In addition to Hermann, Jefflyn Williamson BS’83, owner and president of commercial real estate firm Jefflyn and Co., and Steve Zimmerman BS’89, managing director/brokerage of The Retail Connection, are returning this year to help. David Smithen MBA’05, real estate asset management at Comerica, is assisting as well.