(11/12/2014) – A team of real estate students from the University of Connecticut School of Business earned third place in a prestigious international case competition on November 4 in New York City, sponsored by Cornell University.
The UConn team consisted of William Bartol, Drew Harney, Austin Smyth, Kristine Victor and Patrick Nista. Francesca Michel was the alternate.
John Glascock, director of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Economic Studies, said that the UConn students gave an excellent presentation and secured the honor despite fierce global competition from top-rated schools, including McGill, University of Sydney, Cornell, Brown and NYU.
First place in the Cornell International Real Estate Case Competition went to the University of British Columbia and second place went to University of Wisconsin. In addition to UConn, the other finalists in the 17-team competition included the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and University of Guelph in Canada.
UConn’s Real Estate program, part of the School of Business, has, for the last 15 years, consistently ranked in the Top 10 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. This year’s UConn team was awarded a $3,000 prize to be divided among them.
This is the second time in three years that a UConn real estate team made it to the finals. In 2012, UConn students also took third place in the same competition.
“We were competing against some great universities,” said Austin Smyth, this year’s team captain and president of the Real Estate Society at UConn. “We felt good going into the competition. Combined, we’ve had internships with the top commercial real estate firms in the nation.
“We definitely had different opinions and different experiences to bring to the table, but that made for a strong presentation,” he said. “The judges remarked that we looked like a team. We were all very comfortable with one another and our presentation was smooth.”
Each team has five days to prepare their analysis and make a recommendation on the case, which is based on actual commercial real estate transactions. This year’s case involved a potential apartment development near Silicon Valley and an assessment of the viability of the project.
Teams had to present their analysis to a panel of highly-regarded judges from the real estate field, who determined a winner based on the best overall analysis and presentation. The teams were not judged exclusively on their investment recommendations, but also their approach to the problem, and their presentation skills and their ability to answer and respond to probing questions posed by the panel.
Glascock and Professor Lucy Michaud accompanied the students to the all-day competition, but were not allowed to coach the students, merely to offer moral support.
“The banter they had with the judges was great. They had good answers and analysis and their communication style allowed the judges to talk to them,” Glascock said. “I told them afterward if you do as well in real life, you’re all going to be successful.”
The students received the case several days before the competition and worked well into the night, every night, to prepare the presentation.
“We worked on the case over Halloween weekend so we had to forgo some other social activities, but it was all worth it in the end,” Smyth said.
Glascock described the UConn program as having strong ties to the industry and noted that students graduate with real-life experience which appeals to employers. Last year many of the 54 graduating seniors landed jobs with the biggest commercial real estate firms in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, he said.
Pictured L to R: William Bartol, Austin Smyth, Kristine Victor, Francesca Michel, Andrew Harney, and Patrick Nista