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“Exceptional” USYD team wins prestigious real estate competition

03 Oct 2017

Olivia Guo, Adam Simpson, Tiffany Wu, Zubin Bilimoria, James Madden, and Nimalan Sundaram

Olivia Guo, Adam Simpson, Tiffany Wu, Zubin Bilimoria, James Madden, and Nimalan Sundaram

An “exceptional” team has taken out the Business School’s annual Real Estate Case Competition against undergraduate students from some of Australia and New Zealand’s leading universities.

The University of Sydney Business School Real Estate Case Competition is based on a “real-world” Australian real estate case and is judged by leading industry experts, giving students the opportunity to put their knowledge into first-hand practice.

“The competition is immeasurably valuable to students,” said the Business School’s Associate Professor of Finance, Dr Jamie Alcock. “They gain exposure at solving real world transactions with feedback and questions coming directly from industry professionals.”

“They also have the opportunity to network with the best undergraduate students in the country, and with sponsors,” said Associate Professor Alcock.The University of Sydney team competed against teams from Monash University, University of Queensland, University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, University of Western Australia and Perth’s Curtin University.

The students were presented a case based on an Australian property transaction, and were asked to tackle complex questions involving the funding, planning, development and acquisition. Teams presented at the Business School and were judged on their investment recommendations, problem-solving approach and presentation skills.

“Our team was very proud to be crowned ANZ champions in the competition,” said The University of Sydney team captain James Madden. “Having progressed from the previous two rounds of the competition, our team had become pretty tight-knit so it was great to see that our team cohesion was reflected in our final presentation.”

The team, made up of BCom(Finance)/LL.B students, included James Madden, Tiffany Wu, Adam Simpson, Zubin Bilimoria, Nimalan Sundaram and Olivia Guo.The brief required the University of Sydney team to devise a strategy to maximise the value of the Eveleigh precinct, near Redfern Station, accounting for heritage listings and zoning restrictions.

Their proposal included a contemporary hotel and up to 700 rooms of student accommodation, open plan office space to accommodate the growing tech and innovation sector stemming from the nearby Australian Technology Park and an overhaul to Redfern Station that improved accessibility on the ground, and included affordable housing above ground.

After 30 years in the industry I’m not sure I could havesolved and presented the case as well as the University of Sydney team did,”said Ray Pittman, President and CEO of CBRE Australia and New Zealand, theregion’s largest commercial real estate group. “It was really exceptional work.”

As the rules preclude the host university from winning the prize, the second-placed UNSW team was awarded a trip worth $25,000 to the USA for the prestigious invitation-only Cornell International Real Estate Case Competition (CIRECC). Third place was awarded to the University of Auckland team.

“The calibre of the presentations were outstanding. The competition provided some of the best student presentations I’ve seen in my career,” said Associate Professor Alcock.

According to Professor Alcock, a focus on real estate is valuable for students due to the industry’s pervasiveness in Australia.

“Real estate is the biggest industry in the country,” said Professor Alcock. “Every firm uses space in the real estate market and every Australian is exposed to it. So it’s important that our School can provide industry relevant practical experience in this space.”

“Many members of our team went from having little idea about the real estate private equity market, to viewing it as a very attractive career path,” said James Madden. “I think that’s because you get to see your strategy come to life, and, as was the case in our competition, re-define how a property or area integrates into the broader community.”

“It’s fantastic that the Sydney University Business School is introducing this into the undergraduate curriculum from 2018,” concluded James.