Brokerage to business school

In December 2015 I had a perfectly good life in real estate in Washington, D.C. I was a third-year associate at a boutique multifamily brokerage firm, MAC Realty Advisors, and worked with a driven and entrepreneurial team on a plethora of exciting apartment and condo sales as well as structured finance placements. Our firm consistently closed deals and we were primed for further expansion and success, but somehow I wanted more.

Throughout my career, I had the chance to work with some of the most dynamic and engaging developers in Washington. After spending three years of marketing their deals to investors and lenders, I knew I wanted to sit on the principal side of the deal table. If I believed in the change developers and investors were bringing to my home city, why not be the one who actually affects that change (and reap the lion’s share of the financial payoff)?

I knew it was time to make a move, but how was unsure how to best do that. Development jobs are difficult to come by and, although I was confident in my experience and skills gained at MAC, I had no formal financial education. An MBA was a natural fit.

I immediately gravitated to the UNC Kenan-Flagler Real Estate program. Some of the developers and investors I admired the most in D.C. were UNC alumni. These ambassadors of the School were bolstered by UNC Kenan-Flagler’s unique programming: a dedicated real estate curriculum, unmatched internship placement, a development class where we worked a live deal, and the student-run KFBSF Real Estate Funds. I applied to UNC Kenan-Flagler and didn’t look back.

I quickly found brokerage to be the perfect entrée to business school and the wider real estate community. I had a great base understanding of our discipline and could contribute immediately, but still had much to learn.

UNC Kenan-Flagler strongly augmented my existing skills. My classmates exposed me to different asset classes, geographies and roles within real estate. Professor Dave Hartzell’s first-year class solidified my Excel modeling capabilities and introduced me to a number of expert professionals in the industry. The Leonard W. Wood Center provided ARGUS training and LEED certification programs. The development class and Fund exposed me to real-world deal flow and investment practices. The Real Estate Club guided me through involved career treks to the markets I was targeting, and I studied real estate in Cuba and Colombia through a Global Immersion Elective. These experiences are what I needed to take my career to the next level.

Most importantly, the entire faculty, staff and student body helped me forge lasting connections with our extensive real estate alumni network. I already had a wide network through brokerage, but my status as an MBA candidate at UNC Kenan-Flagler opened countless new doors. It also enhanced my existing connections as I was now a part of a shared identity and a valued member of an incredibly tight-knit UNC real estate community.

It was through one of these connections that I secured my summer development internship at Grosvenor Americas, which enhanced my skills and exposed me to a wide swath of relevant material. Through these connections and experiences I have met life-long friends who I know will be invaluable partners both in business and in life.

By Ed Crocker (MBA ’18)