Letter from the Chair 2018-2019

Dear Fellow Board Members,

As I enter my last academic year as board chair, I would like to take this chance to welcome the new members of the board to the community and thank each returning member for your extraordinary commitment to furthering the board’s dual mission of alumni and student engagement. From mentoring students, hosting career treks, and serving on panels and committees to recruiting new members – your dedication to the board has been tremendous. Collectively, these contributions have led to the early successes in our pursuits to fulfill our mission. In the coming year, we will undertake the expansion of the board’s footprint in the arena of alumni and student engagement. We intend to increase the board’s impact by enlivening our presence and accessibility and by broadening our programming to shape the future of the board and, in turn, the University’s real estate community.

Alumni engagement, the initial emphasis of the board, began in Spring 2016, when 20 alumni working in the real estate arena met to determine if a Harvard-wide alumni real estate organization would be a sustainable effort. Today, less than two and half years later, the board has grown to include over 80 members (40 more than our original membership goal), a full-time staff member (who has been in place for just over a year), and an increasingly strong financial position to undertake new initiatives. Through this growth, we have demonstrated not only an interest but a need for a connected group of alumni working in the real estate arena to act as a resource for fellow alums, the University, and its students.

As the board and its capacity grow, our governance structure has expanded to include standing and ad hoc committees. To date, these committees have deployed members to perform critical tasks and functions as small, focused groups in the time between meetings. Beginning with the Spring 2019 gathering of the board, we will increase committee offerings to include a Membership Committee, a standing committee focused on the strategic cultivation and recruitment of new members. Additionally, moving forward, we will allot time during our biannual meetings for committee members to meet face-to-face to undertake the functions of their respective group. These new initiatives will be discussed in greater depth at the upcoming board meeting.

Student engagement began in earnest at the start of the 2017–2018 academic year, when the board sponsored, organized, and launched a full calendar of programming to complement and build on Harvard’s existing real estate curriculum. Over the last year, the board’s most visible project on campus has been our collaboration with the Harvard Student Real Estate Consortium (HSREC) – the unique, Harvard-wide student organization representing and creating cohesion among the University’s real estate clubs in the College, the Graduate School of Design, and the Business, Law, and Kennedy Schools. Programming for students, alongside key board initiatives such as the Employment Portal, has increased both the board’s and HSREC’s profile on campus, in turn allowing us to reach, engage, and grow the cohort of students at the University who take advantage of HSREC programming.

The 2018–2019 academic year, which began last week, marks the board’s second full calendar of student programming. During the Summer recess, the board’s HSREC Chair, Matt Ciccotti (MDes Real Estate ’15), worked with Consortium leadership to refine existing events and develop new programs based on student interest and the unique needs of those at Harvard studying real estate. A selection of this new programming includes:

·       Building a Career in Real Estate Workshop – Providing students an in-depth understanding of diverse sectors in the industry, building blocks to develop a powerful résumé, and strategy to forge a successful career in real estate.

·       Real Estate Career Treks to Dallas and Chicago – Allows students to visit, interact with, and learn about business models and market conditions from industry leaders in Chicago and Dallas. These treks are an exceptional opportunity for students to gain in-depth insight and expand their networks within the real estate community in both cities.

We will take a deep dive into the depth and breadth of the board’s resources for students during the HSREC leadership presentation at the October board meeting. In the meantime, additional details on HSREC and a full calendar of programming can be found on the board’s website.

Again, thank you each for your commitment to the board. I look forward to seeing you in October. In the meantime, I welcome all feedback on board-related matters.

With best wishes,

Evan Linkner, FAS ’09, MDes ’11
Chair, Harvard Alumni Real Estate Board