I chose the Oxford Real Estate Programme because I was looking for a way to improve my knowledge of best practices and international perspectives in relation to running a real estate development business as I felt the growth of knowledge in this area was key for my development within my role at Pioneer Group, and developing a sustainable strategy for our real estate portfolio. The fact that the programme was in Oxford was a big draw thanks to its academic reputation and it being in-person in such a wonderful city.
I was very happy when I was be accepted onto the programme and was looking forward to learning new ideas and insights from the Oxford professors and my fellow classmates. Moreover, I was quite keen on experiencing for myself the Oxford campus, including facets of the collegiate experience.
My programme cohort was great, many participants were real estate developers themselves from various parts of the world. This meant our discussions and experiences shared in the classroom were rich and realistic given it comes from people who have been there and could relate. The international perspectives of the class also helped as it showed various ways to approach real estate opportunities and challenges.
Over the course of the week, our cohort was divided into groups of 5-7. By the end of the week, each group had to come up with and present to hypothetical investors a pitch to invest in a prospective real estate fund. For me this was a challenging part of the programme, as firstly, I had to learn to work and harmonize well with my allocated group (composed of total strangers at that point), and secondly, come up with a believable and convincing investment pitch. This exercise challenges each participant to stretch interpersonal skills as well as to quickly synthesize all the learnings well enough to present it as a business proposal. One key take home from this exercise for me was how to integrate rather abstract real estate and finance concepts into a realistic brick-and-mortar case study.
My advice for someone considering the real estate programme is, make sure you are ready to commit yourself to an intense (but enjoyable) five days. It’s important to be willing to dedicate the entire week to the programme to make the most of your surroundings and the learning experience, as well as networking with your peers – you will never get another opportunity like this to connect with such a diverse group of people in the same industry, so really prioritise the opportunity.
The programme would be very useful to someone at a key inflexion point in their career - right before planning a new real estate project or fund for example, as the learnings from the programme can be immediately applied to good effect. I have found myself referring to my time on the programme because it encouraged me to build the practice of thinking through, balancing and weighing both high-level and practical concerns in real estate investment decisions.
In addition to excellent teaching and building relationships with my fellow participants, throughout my time on the programme I also witnessed a brilliant physical environment. The facilities were very impressive, and I especially enjoyed experiencing the dinners in the traditional Oxford settings as this created an incredibly memorable and unique experience, one I shall treasure forever.