Liz DiLorenzo '05 (BBA)

USD Real Estate Alum Studies Urban Design at Harvard

Liz DiLorenzo '05 (BBA)When it came to expanding her knowledge of urban design, USD alum Liz DiLorenzo went straight to the top academic institution in the country. She ended up at Harvard University, and defined her career path in the process.

DiLorenzo, who graduated from USD with a bachelor's degree in business administration with emphases in real estate and finance, recently completed the Career Discovery program at Harvard, where she studied urban planning. DiLorenzo initially joined the program because she was interested in becoming a sustainable commercial developer, and saw urban design and architecture as a conduit to a career in green and sustainable design.

Her summer at Harvard consisted of six weeks of intense studio work, seminars, lectures, workshops and fieldtrips aimed to help young professionals define and clarify their career plans and goals. DiLorenzo spent on average 15 to18 hours a day, five days a week, engaged in some form of coursework. As a student in the Urban Planning concentration of the program, she traveled extensively throughout Boston, visiting job sites and meeting real estate professionals in the city. A typical day included lectures from distinguished guest speakers in the morning, followed by a lunch lecture of industry professionals, and then classroom and studio time for the remainder of the day. Many of the speakers highlighted green and sustainable development.

DiLorenzo started her career on the development side of the industry, where she was initially a real estate and market research analyst at The Corky McMillin Companies.

"Coming from the developer perspective, we were always focused on profit, profit, profit," she says. Yet, through the Career Discovery program, DiLorenzo was able to gain insight into the bigger picture of real estate, seeing the field through the eyes of city planners, designers, architects, green enthusiasts and financiers. She says she now has a greater appreciation for all the stakeholders involved in real estate development and sees projects with a new perspective—a perspective not solely motivated by profit.

Her final project was an analysis of the South Boston Waterfront, where she and a partner researched practical uses for the site and created numerous prospective drawings, charts and written plans to explain their ideas for the best use for the site. She defended her proposal before a panel of Harvard professors, Harvard alumni and current Harvard students, where her efforts were evaluated. Her critique ended with one Harvard professor saying DiLorenzo's project was one she would have expected to see from a much more experienced student.

Since completing the program, DiLorenzo has decided to focus her career on green and sustainable commercial real estate. The program confirmed her passion for green development, which she will pursue through real estate, rather than architecture or design work. She plans on taking what she learned about green practices and using them in the 11 commercial properties she currently manages for SD Commercial as East Coast divisional asset manager.