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Ben Stevens

Theologian Finds His Own Way in the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA

by Graaskamp Staff Monday, March 14, 2016

Ben StevensWisconsin MBAs are a diverse group of individuals with varied and unique skill sets. While not all students enter the MBA program with a strong business background, their outside-the-box thinking and exceptional life and work experiences help them navigate the path of this new educational endeavor. Some even find novel and creative ways to traverse their career shifts. 

Ben Stevens, first year Real Estate MBA, is just one of those students. Ben spent the past 5 years living and working in Germany, where he taught theology and was a writer for a Berlin-based non-profit. Little did he know he was nurturing skills deeply rooted in real estate business fundamentals. Ben raised over $500,000 during his 5 years in Berlin to fund his non-profit. His relationship cultivation with donors and investors helped him build an understanding of the importance of personal interactions in raising capital. These skills and relationships laid the foundation for Ben’s passion for real estate development, urban planning, and architecture, and ultimately his decision to return state-side to pursue a Real Estate MBA at the Wisconsin School of Business.

Ben has developed his own web series, entitled Skyline, where he connects with industry insiders to conduct a holistic analysis of cities. As Ben puts it, he “interview(s) the architects, urban planners, real estate developers, and builders whose ideas and convictions are responsible for the world around us.” Ben’s decision to create this series was fueled by both his personal curiosity of these distinct and siloed industries as well as his drive to supplement his MBA education and learn more about the real estate industry as a whole.

Ben is no stranger to developing web series, as he directed a similar project with theologians in Berlin. He finds this format provides him with an excellent venue to speak with people he might not normally have the opportunity to speak with and engage with them on a deeper level than the typical elevator pitch. Through his Skyline series, Ben has connected with UW Real Estate Alumni, current and past Graaskamp Board members, and other industry leaders. Ben views the series as a “place to take questions that were piqued in the program,” and an opportunity to seek answers in the real world while building his professional network.

Ben hopes to turn his Skyline series into a monthly live series post-graduation, with Skyline forums in multiple cities that would ideally bring together individuals from the interdisciplinary fields of urban planning, development, architecture, and building for discussions and hopefully effecting positive change within their communities.    

Learn more about Ben and his web series on theskylineforum.com.

Ben Stevens