Beyond the Build

Continuing Education

Head of the Class

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking to Auburn University’s Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) Class of 2015. MRED is a post graduate track offered jointly by the University’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction and the College of Business. It is led by Professor Michael Robinson.

The program is aimed at practicing professionals from both the public and private sectors of the industry, generally involved in the fields of real estate, finance, construction and design. Graduates leave with a handle on best development practices, environmental sustainability, social responsibility, economic resilience, financial feasibility, deal structure and design excellence.

I found the Class of 2015 to be made up of a delightful group from across the country, all very engaging and focused on bettering their knowledge of the industry.

A few thoughts shared:

  • Be Flexible. At times the industry can be like buying a plane ticket to Germany and landing in Italy. Be prepared.
  • Personal brand is key. It’s always good to have a solid reputation.
  • Sustainability is important now and will be increasingly in regards to real estate. Doing more with less and respecting the environment is key. Both are good ROIs.
  • Always seek out new and better means and methods for delivery.
  • Network constantly, but be able to unplug occasionally.
  • Build credibility through relationships and a supportive network.
  • Do what you enjoy doing; otherwise change professions. Realize that at times, nothing is easy.

As I parted I also shared that my radar shows some exciting times ahead in the U.S. In many ways it’s never been better.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.