MSc Real Estate student wins competition to attend conference in Washington DC

3 May 2019

MSc Real Estate student wins competition to attend conference in Washington DC
Nabeel Ahmed, a current student on the MSc Real Estate programme, recently won a competition to attend the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) global conference in Washington DC. Here, Nabeel tells us about his experience.

SIOR Foundation Student Experience – by Nabeel Ahmed

Following selection to attend the student experience programme, I wasn’t sure what kind of experience I would gain from the conference. Needless to say I was delighted to be sponsored to travel to Washington DC and meet students and professionals from different continents.

On the outbound journey I met one of the students, Anders, just before boarding the flight. I was pleasantly surprised that we shared many interests and throughout the time at the conference we shared some great moments. Upon arrival at the hotel, we met with our mentor and another European student, Remi, who turned out to be a great person. Our mentor, Matthew, was incredibly welcoming and introduced us to as many members as possible. He made a big effort to get us into various events and helped increase our exposure to some very interesting and accomplished members within the organisation.

I haven’t attended a business conference before and was expecting it to be rather formal, however the SIOR conference had a community spirit with incredibly friendly and engaging members. It was clear that the organisation is much more than a business network and, much like the real estate industry being more than bricks and mortar, it is one which facilitates lasting networks and relationships. It is amazing to see how the conference brings professionals across large geographical distances together.

The mornings kicked-off with general sessions followed by keynote speakers throughout the afternoon. The general sessions provided a good way of getting to know the recent efforts of the organisation and its members. The key note speakers included the co-founder of Zipcar, Robin Chase; founder and director of MIT Age Labs, Joseph Coughlin; and futurist and urbanist, Greg Lindsay.

The speakers discussed topical issues ranging from demographics, the future of transportation and the future of urbanism. These issues are what will be the key drivers for commercial real estate and real estate professionals are at the forefront of turning these issues into advantages. As a student about to embark on a career in the industry, gaining insights from the keynote speakers was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the future of the industry.

In the latter end of the afternoon through to the evening there were various events which were run by the organisation and others which were hosted by sponsors, including the Bank of America’s Leadership Reception. At the Leadership reception, our mentor introduced us to the SIOR leadership members. Each member took the time to have a conversation with us and were genuinely interested to hear our thoughts on the industry and to learn of our opinions. The networking events provided a fantastic platform to receive advice from various industry leaders and to build on an international network of real estate professionals.

A key takeaway from the experience is how vested the organisation is in supporting students entering the industry. The mentors introduced us to key members and gave their time to offer advice and share anecdotes from their respective journeys in the industry. This experience would not be possible without the SIOR Foundation who ensured we got the most from our experience.