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Pitt Business Real Estate Finance Academy Debuts

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Pitt Business Real Estate Finance Academy recently held its inaugural kick-off meeting at the JLL offices in downtown Pittsburgh. 

More than 30 students from the University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration are poised to gain a foundational knowledge of the industry through a workshop series hosted by national and regional real estate development partners, including NAIOP, HFF, JLL, McKnight Realty Partners, and First Commonwealth Bank.   

The new program will give Pitt Business students the opportunity to develop expertise in real-estate finance and interact directly with leaders in the industry. 

“This is a business you can’t learn just from textbooks in a classroom. The best way to learn it is to get engaged in the industry and grow your network, and the Real Estate Finance Academy is the perfect environment for this to occur,” says Audrey J. Murrell, associate dean of Pitt Business and director of the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership.

The kick-off meeting was facilitated by Ira Gumberg, chairman and CEO of J.J. Gumberg Co, and also an alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh, trustee on the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees, member of the Board of Visitors of the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration.

J.J. Gumberg Co. is a third-generation global real estate investment and development company headquartered in Pittsburgh. An industry leader for nearly 90 years, J.J. Gumberg is one of the largest privately held real estate developers in the country. 

“To be successful in this industry, you must understand the discipline of managing projects, the full finance picture, and the intricacies of the real estate industry, such as design, construction, project management, leasing, sales, and legal,” Gumberg says.

Representatives from the Academy partner organizations shared their experiences of breaking into the industry and learning to apply their knowledge of finance to the real estate industry. 

“One of the hardest things I experienced starting out in this industry was learning the jargon used in the real estate industry,” says Nicholas Unkovic, real estate analyst at HFF. “I work on teams with industry veterans who have 25 to 30 years of experience, and I had to take the initiative to learn and ask questions to get ahead. Self-starters will go far in this industry,”

The representatives also discussed operations in Pittsburgh and around the globe, and the benefit of analytics in commercial real estate. 

 “The Real Estate Academy is something I wish I had as a student,” says JC Pelusi (MBA ’85), international director of corporate solutions, Great Lakes Region at JLL. “This is a wonderful opportunity to explore your interest in the world of real estate finance, and take advantage of the global connections available to you.” 

Throughout the spring 2017 semester, the industry partners will host workshops for students enrolled in the Academy. 

“There is great sustainability in this field. Through the partners we have in this program, and the many more that I’m sure this program will attract, there will be mentorships and internships that can ultimately lead to long-term career positions,” Gumburg says. 

The Real Estate Finance Academy and Professional Sales Academy were developed to give students additional professional experience. Learn more about the career development opportunities available for Pitt Business Students, including the 2017 Spring Career and Internship Fair, Executive in Residence Program, and Industry Professional Networks Program.