On September 14th, Julia Wu, a fellow second-year Real Estate MBA student and I went to the Goldie Initiative 10th Anniversary Gala in downtown Chicago. We were both invited as the Initiative’s scholarship recipients for the 2017-2018 cohort. Before leaving, I was already excited by the fact that more than 500 industry professionals from all sectors of the Chicago commercial real estate community would be attending the event, and it turned out to be an even more inspiring and spectacular evening than I expected.
The evening started with a mentor-scholar meetup event at the prestigious, historical Rookery building. At the luminous and brilliantly articulated central light court designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, I met the Goldie Initiative’s board members and scholars from other universities. Together we headed to the top floor of the building while talking about each other’s backgrounds and passions within the real estate industry and sharing thoughts on life in business school.
The moment that we stepped foot in the Burnham library that’s sitting on 11th floor, we were warmly welcomed by the Goldie mentors. I was excited to meet my mentor assigned by the Goldie Initiative, Robin Rieck from Norcon, a Chicago-based general contractor managing complex commercial and high-end residential construction projects. Robin told me about her job as a construction project executive and some of the amazing projects that she had done, including renovation on the Allerton Hotel Chicago and new development of a multi-family building in the West Loop. She shared some challenges that she faces in her position, including how to manage the construction process by effectively managing outside vendors to keep projects on track. She also asked about my interests in the real estate industry and suggested ways to connect me with professionals in my interested fields. Even though it was the first time that we met in person, I was already inspired by Robin’s professionalism and felt lucky to have her as my mentor. Before we headed down to the main gala, all the mentors, scholars and board members took pictures in front of the Venus statue and the fireplace, as we learned that the room we were standing is the exact room where plans were drawn for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and the White City.
The main gala is hosted at the famous glamorous Wintrust Grand Banking Hall. During the three-hour event, I had opportunities to connect with many Chicago real estate professionals from all sectors of the industry, including brokers, architects, developers, property managers, and asset managers. Everyone I met at the gala was very friendly and pleasant to talk to. They all shared their career stories and offered advice as I shared my own background and passion for the real estate industry. At the event I also reconnected with Jocelyn Friedman (MBA 2017), who was a Goldie scholar in last year’s cohort and made great contributions by connecting fellow female students from our center with mentors and board members of the Goldie Initiative. It was amazing to see how she furthered her network and relationships with the program, even after graduation.
The inspiring speech from Goldie B. Wolfe Miller was definitely the highlight of the evening. Goldie shared her career path of how she started in the industry when there weren’t any women in the commercial real estate area, but worked her way up to found the largest female-led real estate company in the country in the 1980s. Goldie started this initiative 10 years ago to support her passion for real estate, women and leadership, and give back to the industry that she loves. She encouraged people at the event to support women in real estate education. “I want more women in the corner office!” said Goldie. Many of us at the audience were amazed by Goldie’s vision and determination.
Attending the Goldie Initiative gala was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in the Wisconsin MBA Program so far. As a first-year MBA student, I am deeply grateful for the scholarship and the networking opportunities provided by the Goldie Initiative as well as the Graaskamp Center for Real Estate. I look forward to the next two years in the real estate MBA program. On, Wisconsin!