The Real Estate Connection - News from the Wisconsin Real Estate Program

Alumni Profile: Stephanie C. Lentz (MBA '10)

The Real Estate Connection: March 2012
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Stephanie Lentz

Describe your current position and what an average work day is like for you.

I am a Market Associate for Northwestern Mutual Real Estate Investments covering the southeastern United States. I underwrite debt and equity investment opportunities produced out of our Atlanta regional office. NM's typical investment size is about $60 million, but ranges on a single project from $20 million to $250 million. We invest nationally in investment-grade product across major property types.

My typical day involves analyzing market data, pricing loans and modeling projected returns on real estate investment opportunities submitted from our field production staff. I also travel frequently to major southeastern markets to meet with clients and perform property inspections. Once a deal is signed, I present the regional office investment recommendation to our home office senior management for approval. I am also involved in recruiting and run the new employee mentoring program, which keeps me busy!

What is the greatest benefit(s) you've gotten from the Graaskamp Center and the Wisconsin Real Estate Program?

My education with the Wisconsin Real Estate Program helped my ability to identify macro and micro-economic drivers supporting quality real estate investments. It strengthened my understanding of finance and investment strategy and helped improve my skills in excel and Argus modeling, which has made me a more thoughtful and productive in my position.

What does the world need from real estate professionals today?

The world needs real estate professionals who are both discerning and creative. Prudent decision-making is an essential quality for all investment professionals. As an ill-liquid asset, real estate punctuates the need for investors to be cautious and take a long-term view, as highlighted by the current real estate driven recession in the U.S. A sustainable recovery will partly rely on the vision and willingness of investors to recapitalize and reposition distressed properties. I think cautious developers and investors who are entrepreneurial in spirit will be the most successful in creating opportunities and building momentum in a soft market.

What advice would you give to a young professional considering a career in real estate?

Do what you can to gain hands-on experience! I would recommend working at the property level before going into investment analysis or portfolio management. I see a lot of young people looking to jump into analyst positions with larger investment firms without having any experience working with the asset. Having a firm grasp of realistic construction and lease-up time frames as well operational needs for various property types comes with experience, and is critical to building accurate forecasts. The good news is that real estate is an industry with lots of smaller owner/operators who are constantly in need of young talent. I got my start in high school showing apartments for a small property management company on the north side of Chicago. I've since worked jobs in development, corporate real estate consulting and construction. It took me twelve years and a master's degree to break into the investment world, but the breadth of my past experience has been important to refining my judgment and analytical ability.

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Featured Events

Attention Employers! Networking Receptions to be Held in Chicago and Minneapolis
If you are an employer who is looking for talent who can make an immediate impact on your company, you are invited to join us at networking receptions in Chicago on March 27th and in Minneapolis on April 17th. You’ll meet our staff of career placement professionals, learn more about the Wisconsin School of Business, and hear how we can make your recruitment efforts efficient and successful. We hope to see you there!

To make your reservation or to learn more about Wisconsin’s career placement services, please email Matt Nelson, associate director of the MBA Career Management Center, at or 608-265-5102.

Round Three Application Deadline for Real Estate MBA is March 16
The application process for the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA is well-underway. The second round deadline is March 16. Alumni and friends of the program are encouraged to refer candidates to the Graaskamp Center. Please contact Sharon McCabe or apply here. For some application advice, see Sharon's tips on our blog here.

Spring Board Meeting – “New Beginnings: Assessing the State of Our Industry”
On April 17-18 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, the Graaskamp Center will bring together an all-star lineup of real estate leaders and renowned academics to discuss “New Beginnings: Assessing the State of Our Industry.” The keynote address by Lee Neibart, Global CEO of AREA, on Tuesday evening and the sessions on Wednesday will explore the outlook for the real estate industry, provoke discussion on long delayed issues of debt resolution and infrastructure investment, and look to broader global issues affecting our region. View agenda. Register online.

Building a Housing Policy That Works
On June 1 in Madison, 2012 Wisconsin Real Estate & Economic Outlook Conference will discuss what policies the current or the next administration should implement to design a healthy, responsible, functioning, and efficient housing market. Featured speakers include Karl “Chip” Case (co-founder of the Case Shiller Home Price Index); Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the NAR; and Curt Culver, President of MGIC.  Learn more.  Register now.

Events Calendar

May 3
AREIT Board Meeting
Madison, WI

May 17-19
Madison, WI

June 6-7
Graaskamp Center Spring Board Meeting
American Club
Kohler, WI

Sept 18-19
WREAA Trends Conference
Chicago, IL

October 16
Graaskamp Roundtable Dinner
Madison, WI

October 17
Wisconsin Real Estate & Economic Outlook Conference
Madison, WI

November 21
Fall Board Dinner
New York, NY

November 22
Global Real Estate Markets Conference
New York Stock Exchange
New York, NY