This semester, BBA and MBA students considering a career in real estate met with a dozen industry representatives in an intimate round robin format.

Roy Black, professor in the practice of finance and director the Real Estate Program at Goizueta Business School, set up the event so students could get an introduction to the real estate industry and an understanding of “the breadth of careers offered,” as well as to make valuable professional contacts.

As students moved about the room to visit with the various real estate representatives, each of whom focused on a different aspect of the industry, conversations covered topics from the skills necessary for success in real estate to the current state of the economy.

The need for a strong background in finance was mentioned several times — regardless of what aspect of the industry students were interested in. However, when John Neal Scott 13MBA asked Randy Evans 79MBA, managing director, Eastdil Securities, what skills he’d need to reach positions held by the veterans in the room, Evans answered, “You have to begin with the end in mind, because if you know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

Eight of the industry experts present were there on behalf of University CREW (UCREW), an offshoot of Commercial Real Estate Women, a national organization and network that supports women in real estate. UCREW was formed to increase awareness about CREW and careers in commercial real estate among college students. Student Ansley Nixon 12MBA, who has worked in several roles in real estate, was encouraged by the “long careers and positions of prominence” held by the women in the room.

In fielding a question about how economic events over the last few years have affected the industry, Char Fortune, Atlanta CREW member and managing director, Corporate Services Group, Grubb & Ellis, explained to the students at her table, “I’ve done this for 30 years. For the first 25 nothing changed. Everything’s changed in the last five years.”

Aaron Kuney 09MBA, principal, Kuney Properties, LLC, told a student that commercial real estate isn’t for everybody. “It’s a risk/reward question,” he said. Though recent events may have underlined the risky aspects of a career in real estate, Kuney reminded the students, “It has a huge upside.”

– Allison Shirreffs