Every year, a select group of MBA students from across the U.S. are provided the opportunity to attend the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM) Executive Officers Fall Meeting as fellows. Participating in the 2015 event in Chicago as a NAREIM Fellow was a truly unique experience.
Unlike other industry events and conferences that are heavily attended and structured, the NAREIM Executive Officers Fall Meeting draws a small, captive audience that offers plenty of intimate discussions and unadulterated opinions on the state of the real estate industry. During the breakout and table discussions, lunches, property tour, and cooking class, I was treated as a professional equal and had the chance to speak to and form relationships with highly accessible real estate executives from diverse backgrounds.
The Fall 2015 meeting was unique in that Fellows not only interacted with all of the speakers and attendees, but also gave a five minute speech on a real estate topic that interested us. Although I had some experience presenting to large groups, speaking in front of over 75 C-suite executives had me deep in thought about what topic could possibly intrigue such a diverse and highly educated group of real estate professionals. I decided to speak about my unique professional experience and why it made me question what could be done to improve what some consider the industry standard of investment vehicles: closed-end funds.
When I began my real estate career in CMBS securitization in 2005, I saw sky-high asset prices and experienced the peak of the last cycle. In 2008, I transitioned to a loan sale advisory role where I worked on thousands of distressed assets and saw the bottom of the recession. As the lead fund manager of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s student-managed KFBSF Real Estate Private Equity Fund, my classmates and I deal in an uncertain time. We are attempting to both wind down a 2007 vintage closed-end investment vehicle and deploy capital from a 2015 value-add and opportunistic, closed-end investment vehicle. These experiences – and my subsequent discussion topic – resulted in the publication of a more in-depth article on the NAREIM website. The eventual answers for how we can improve closed-end fund investment vehicles were greatly influenced by the individuals I heard from and spoke with during the Executive Officers Fall Meeting.
Although my official NAREIM Fellowship Program concluded with the publishing of my article in March 2016, I continue to interact with both NAREIM employees and attendees of the conference on a daily basis. My experience with NAREIM and its members has positively influenced my future in the real estate industry, and I have no doubt the relationships I formed will continue throughout my career. I wouldn’t have had this amazing opportunity were it not for the incredible Real Estate Program at UNC Kenan-Flagler, the support of faculty and staff – such as Dave Hartzell and Jim Spaeth – and “Real-World Real Estate” business school experiences like managing the KFBSF Real Estate Private Equity Fund.
By Terence Bundy (MBA ’16)