Tuesday, February 21, 2012 Real Estate News
Meet Juan Pena: Global Real Estate Master Student from INCAE in Costa Rica by Staff

Juan PenaTell us about your background prior coming to Wisconsin.

I was doing my MBA at INCAE and was there for one year. Last year, I spent a semester as an exchange student at Emory University in Atlanta where I focused primarily on finance courses.

I graduated from ESPOL of Ecuador in 2009 with a B.S. in Managerial Engineering and then went on to earn an MBA degree from INCAE Business School in Costa Rica. Last year, through my MBA, I also studied as an exchange student for one semester at Emory University, where I specialized in corporate finance and investment banking.

During the summer break in May 2011, I interned with CAPEBSA, a real estate developer in Ecuador. As an intern, I was in charge of the analysis of the supply purchases and the relationship with the suppliers.

Prior to my MBA studies, I worked in commercial banking for two years at Banco Bolivariano, one of the biggest banks in Ecuador. I worked in the Risk department, where I led a team of 12 appraisers responsible for the valuation of loans' collaterals, assigning and approving appraisals for an amount of US$40 million per month. This work is what sparked my interest in real estate.

Why did you choose the GREM Program? What do you hope to get out of the program?

It's a great opportunity to specialize in real estate at a top-ranked school and I can obtain dual degree. I like that fact that being at Wisconsin also gives us some great networking opportunities. We have access to the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Network and Wisconsin School of Business alumni.

It's also great to be in the classroom with people from other countries and cultures. It opens your mind and gives you fresh perspectives to find creative solutions.

What is your impression of Madison and of the GREM Program so far?

I love the environment here. Everything is so convenient and people are really nice. The GREM staff and faculty are great. So far, the experience has exceeded my expectations. I'm impressed with the faculty --they are very hand-on and very involved in the classroom. They have made us feel very welcome and we get a lot of opportunities for small group interactions.

What do you like most about being in the real estate profession?

I like the holistic aspect of real estate - it integrates many interesting specialties into one profession: development, finance, management, construction, architecture and brokerage. I also enjoy having a concept for a building or development and seeing it become a reality.