Wednesday, 20 November 2013

MSc Real Estate Prize 2012-13: Natasha Sidoli

This year, the Oxford Brookes Real Estate Management Society (OBREMS) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have rewarded the efforts of the best postgraduate students on the MSc programmes in Real Estate at Oxford Brookes University. The prizes are based on overall performance on the degree. The winning student for the MSc Real Estate Management OBREMS prize and MSc Real Estate Management RICS prize was Natasha Sidoli (MSc REM 2012-13).

Natasha is now working in London for Savills as a graduate surveyor. Her first role is as part of the Commercial Valuations Team.

Natasha receiving her prize from Duncan Hall, Director, Commercial Valuations at Savills

I caught up with Natasha over the summer to find out why she decided to study real estate and why she chose to study it at Oxford Brookes. Here's what she said:

1. What is your background and why did you choose to go into Real Estate?
I have an undergraduate degree in Economics and Finance from Royal Holloway University. On leaving school I did not know what career path I wanted to pursue, however I have always been brought up with property around me as I have a few family members which are already in the profession so it seemed like a natural route to try some work experience in the field. I worked for a couple of summers at Savills and loved it. I applied to Savills as a non-cog and after being offered the job, I chose to undertake the MSc Real Estate Management at Brookes.

2. Why did you choose the MSc REM at Brookes?
I applied to Brookes, Reading and Cass, and chose Brookes based on recommendations of the course (and Nick French - Programme Leader for the MSc Real Estate) by people in the profession. Before I applied, I called Nick (French) to discuss the course and he was so kind and helpful. He then agreed to have a chat with me when I came to visit the uni on an open day. He gave me his personal time and attention, something which none of the other universities did. The discussion with Nick relaxed me completely and made me excited to be going to Brookes, despite his very honest warnings of all the hard work to come. I felt that I would get more teaching attention from the smaller, more personal classes, which might not have been the case from other universities with a much higher intake.

3. What was it like when you arrived and started the course?
Pretty scary, Nick gave us an induction talk, which terrified me. The group meal arranged in the evening was a really nice idea and helped me to get to know people immediately. In terms of the work, I felt that we were thrown into the deep end quite quickly with our first task. It was a group task and involved finding our way around Oxford, which I thought was a really good exercise to do when we first arrived. It helped me to get my bearings and find all the useful places around town, in addition to helping us get to know some of the class really quickly through the team work.

4. Looking back over the course now, what were the highlights? 
The Manchester and Madrid field trips, we had a lot of fun on both field trips and they were very informative. We met a lot of people from industry and I also thought they were brilliant in terms of "team bonding" within the class. The Manchester trip helped people to get to know each other early on in the course, whereas the Madrid trip was a great way for us to end the year, spending a week of time together before we all went in our own directions. The trips were well-timed throughout the year. The top highlight would have to be the last meal with the lecturers in Madrid, which was possibly one of the most entertaining dinners of my life!

Natasha presenting Nick (French) with his gift at the last meal in Madrid

5. And the most challenging bits?
All the coursework was challenging in it's own way and I think the deadlines most Mondays were quite challenging and took some time to get used to. The amount of coursework was not something I was used to with my first degree. However, the most challenging task was definitely the applied project - it required a lot of independent research and motivation.

6. Bearing in mind your experience, what advice would you give to someone starting the course?
I would recommend that students start to work hard from the first moment and try to start coursework in advance and keep on top of all the work, because it builds up quickly, but is very do-able if the work is well-managed. I would also recommend students take advantage of the help that lecturers provide. Nick is so approachable, happy to help and would always give up his time for one of his students, so students should definitely make the most of this during their time at Brookes.

7. What did you do for your Applied Project and why?
I did the Investment Applied Project because it was the one I initially found the most interesting and I chose it in the hope to learn more about the logic behind the decisions involved in building a portfolio.

8. What's next for you?
I have started work as a graduate surveyor at Savills on a two-year graduate scheme. My first rotation is in Valuation.

For more comments from Natasha and Nick French, take a look at this article on our website.

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