London, 6 November 2019.
Fourteen INSEAD and MIT graduates received valuable insights into how the real estate industry has changed in a career-planning briefing delivered by specialist real estate advisory and executive search firm Sousou Partners.
The meeting was part of an intensive PR and careers exercise undertaken by the MBA grads, members of the INSEAD Real Estate Club as well as graduates from MIT and Harvard, and intent on forging a career in real estate investment. The London tour included stops at a private equity firm and a sovereign wealth fund. They chose Sousou Partners to get the view from a specialist recruitment firm.
The key changes over the past 10 years since the global financial crisis included the growing importance of scale and the significant level of consolidation among funds and investment platforms. But it was the career and cultural changes that interested the graduates more.
“There is a fundamental shift taking place in what our clients are looking for. The focus, given where we are in the cycle, is around creating value in deals,” says Ghada Sousou, CEO of Sousou Partners.
With the market being at, or near, the top of the cycle for the past three to four years, the primary driver is the fundamental search for value. “Engineering, architectural and other non-traditional skill sets are becoming more viable now because it’s harder to do a deal and there is more emphasis on asset management – working the asset to create value,” says Ghada.
According to Jamie McKinnell, Partner at Sousou Partners, it used to be that the primary route into real estate investing was via an MBA, general investment banking experience and then specializing in mergers and acquisition. The private equity funds and large investment houses focused on this financial track. Now these firms are “becoming more flexible.”
The asset management track “used to be considered a ‘less sexy’ side to the business but is now the hottest area,” says Jamie. “It is much more needed now to identify and create value.”
The fourth change is a cultural/behavioral change. Over 20 years, Ghada has observed that as the industry matures, players are first and foremost focused on cultural fit. The ultra-competitive culture that used to be pervasive in private equity, investment banking and fund management has been tempered. “The old star culture doesn’t exist in most firms now. In 80-90% of our clients, that doesn’t work.”
Instead, according to Ghada, all real estate investment firms are now placing a premium on teamwork, attitude and cultural fit.
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