A team of Sauder BCom students won the Cornell International Real Estate Case Competition this month, the most prestigious competition of its kind in the world.
The six students – Elizabeth Cheong, Touraj Dehghan Manshadi, Wei-Ting Leong, Graham Russell, Blake Taylor and Tyler Yen – beat out 16 other teams from across North America, Asia, Europe and Australia from universities such as Cambridge, Cornell, Brown, New York University, McGill and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
“This win shows we can hold our head up high with the rest of the world,” says Tsur Somerville, Sauder’s Real Estate Foundation of BC Professor in Real Estate Finance, who worked with the students and was with them at the event, held just off Wall Street in New York.
“The team’s knowledge base they get from class is supplemented by mentorship from industry professionals, so they have real world insight into what it’s like to present a case professionally. Their presentation was the most grounded in reality as they understood the industry context,” he says.
Each team had five days to analyse and prepare recommendations for a case, based on a real commercial real estate transaction. They presented to a judging panel made up of high-ranking real estate investors, developers and experts from private equity firms.
“It was an incredible opportunity, and really great to connect with students from around the world with the same passion for real estate,” says Yen, a BCom student specializing in finance and real estate. “And after all our hard work, winning the competition was truly exhilarating.”
The Sauder team had been preparing since the summer with the help of Sauder faculty and alumni mentors. Professor Mark Monroe led the team along with Adjunct Professor Andrew Tong who is also Senior VP of Investments for Concert Properties Ltd, a real estate enterprise based in Vancouver. Tong and two of his colleagues, Cam MacGregor and Leslie Marta – who are also Sauder alumni – coached the team by providing real-life scenarios, allowing the students to dive deeply into real estate portfolio underwriting, development and financing analysis.
“The team’s thorough, comprehensive and pragmatic approach to the case really earned them this win,” Tong says. “They were truly a team - each member participated and presented equally.”
The Sauder team won a $10,000 prize for their win. The competition is hosted annually by the Center for Real Estate and Finance at Cornell University.