How MBA Students Can Get Investing ExperienceMarch 27, 2019
LIKE MANY BUSINESS school applicants, Brian Purcell, 35, had a specific goal in mind when he quit his day job to get an MBA degree at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School. After graduating from Davidson College, Purcell spent six years handling real estate sales and development in Charlotte, North Carolina. He wanted to stay in the industry but move into more of an institutional investing role. "I wanted an MBA program that would help me do that," he explains.
Kenan-Flagler's MBA real estate concentration is well-regarded. But Purcell was particularly intrigued by the chance to get experience helping manage a student-run multimillion-dollar real estate fund with a portfolio of investments ranging from multifamily properties to office space, senior housing and retail.
"Our students are responsible for every single thing a private equity fund does, such as running models and dealing with the nitty-gritty of how the assets will perform under different circumstances," says David Hartzell, a real estate professor who serves as faculty adviser.
Purcell quickly found that to be true. He joined in the second semester of his first year and worked as a lead fund manager until graduation. He and his fellow students met as a class with Hartzell at least twice a week to discuss every aspect of managing the fund and received credit for two semester courses.
When classes were out of session they met via conference call. The year-round commitment required Purcell and his team of managers to meet with real estate developers, visit properties, analyze investments, source deals and report to investors, among other tasks.
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