Thursday, 11 January 2018

MSc Real Estate Investment Finance: our students

The MSc/PGD Real Estate Investment Finance (REIF) has now been running for 3 years and our first students will graduate from the MSc and PGD REIF in June 2018. I caught up with three of our MSc REIF students who are currently taking the MSc Dissertation to find out more about them and why they decided to take the MSc at Oxford Brookes. The students (see below) are: Ivana Gazivoda Vucinic who works for Chestertons and is based in Dubai, Freda Rutere who works in Commercial Real Estate and is based in Kenya and Mark Allen who works for Nationwide Building Society and is based in the UK.

Ivana Gazivoda Vucinic (IGV)

Freda Rutere (FR)

...and Mark Allen (MA)

And now, here's how they answered my questions:

What is your background? 

IGV: I graduated with a degree in Economics in 2008 and was planning to pursue a career in the accounting/audit field. In 2009 there was an opening in the Finance Department at Colliers, and I was recommended by my University for the role. By joining Colliers I developed a passion for the real estate industry and after a while moved to a property management division to take care of leasing and marketing of the asset we had under PM agreement. After several years at Colliers, I moved to Belgrade for a year where I worked in a similar capacity before moving to Dubai in 2013. Dubai, being one of the most dynamic real estate markets, triggered me to consider a slightly different career path - so after a period of working on a developer side,  I moved to the advisory side of the business in 2016. Since January 2017 I've been working with Chestertons in the Advisory & Research Department.

FR: My background is in Real Estate Development Management and prior to that Structural Engineering.

MA: My path in academia was the reverse to most students. I went straight into work from school and then found myself in commercial property finance. I enjoyed the work so much I started to look at ways to add to my skills so spent 5 years taking banking exams ending with a degree in Banking Practice and Management and Chartered Associateship.

Why did you decide to do a course in Real Estate Investment Finance?

IGV: My degree in Economics together with my work experience provides a solid foundation to assess the clients' requirements and add value to the projects. However, I believe that getting a RE-related degree gives an additional edge when it comes to dealing with the complexity of the assignment and clients' requirements, hence I decided to enroll.

FR: It has been my experience that there is often a disconnect between the decision drivers of investors (in real estate) and the engineering fundamentals that technical teams are driven by. Combining a solid background learning in engineering with REIF equips me with the right tools to better steer commercial real estate development decision making at strategic level.

MA: Having always focused on finance, I wanted to gain insight to the investment side of property whilst complementing my existing skillset and experience.

Why did you choose the MSc REIF at Oxford Brookes?

IGV: I was evaluating several options and MSc REIF at Oxford Brooks provided a good blend of the following criteria: online learning delivery (with a dynamic working schedule it means a lot to have a certain flexibility, unlike with part-time or full-time programs); the length of the program (18 months compared to some other options taking up to 30 months); the fee-to-ranking ratio (I thought it was a reasonable fee for the course with a reasonable ranking).

FR: The course is RICS accredited and offered in a flexible format; the institution and is an elite ranked and has a history dating back to Victorian England.

MA: First of all I needed a distance learning course to work round my existing work commitments which the Oxford Brookes course offered. Secondly, I came across some of the tutors work in a book on property sustainability that was forward thinking and thought provoking. Thirdly, the way the course was structured covered the topics I wanted more insight into.

What do you hope to gain from the course and how will it help you in your career?

IGV: I hope to get a deeper understanding of concepts that are applied in day-to-day work. Furthermore, the course allows me to come up with certain out-of-box solutions in certain situations and to generate additional value for my clients.

FR: I hope to gain exposure to the Real Estate asset class across various jurisdictions globally.

MA: The course offers a balanced and detailed insight into real estate investment finance and will be a real advantage for me in my role as a Senior Relationship Manager having exposure to a wide range of clients and property portfolios.

What have you chosen/did you choose for your dissertation topic and why?

IGV: I've decided to analyze the performance of US REIT compared to S&P 500 index. There are two reasons why I choose this topic - the first one is that the REIT concept in Dubai is very new so I opted to gain some deeper understanding/knowledge at this stage to be able to be ahead of the curve once the concept starts gaining interest and more expert knowledge in certain aspects will be needed. Other reasons are private interest and curiosity - knowing where and when to invest and how to leverage the risk of a personal investment portfolio.

FR: In my dissertation, I seek to compare and contrast the REIT market perspectives of mature investment markets of Asia to the emerging African markets. I believe there are learning opportunities for the latter.

For more information on the MSc/PGD Real Estate Investment Finance, take a look at our website:


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