Espen Thoegersen '00 (BBA)
UK Roundup: Burnham-Moores Center Grads Live, Work Abroad in London
While Burnham-Moores Center grads have made their mark upon the San Diego real estate industry, they are also filling the real estate ranks in another international city: London, England. Currently three graduates, Alexandra Bryant, Kyle Moran and Espen Thoegersen, are living and working in real estate in London. The Burnham-Moores Center recently caught up with the three grads.
Alexandra Bryant, who received her undergraduate minor in Real Estate from USD in 2004, is currently a senior analyst at Jones Lang LaSalle in London. She has lived there since January of 2005.
Bryant, who received the Daniel B. Woodruff Memorial Scholarship in the Fall of 2003, is part of the European Retail Capital Markets team at Jones Lang LaSalle, where she advises investors on buying and selling retail property, mainly shopping centers. While Bryant lives in London, her territory consists of properties across continental Europe. "My primary responsibility is to cover countries where we do not have a significant local presence," she says. "I started out working on deals in Romania and Turkey and have also spent time working on deals in Finland." Her real estate transactions have enabled her to travel all across Europe conducting site visits and tours. With so much international exposure, Bryant says that knowing the cultural ins and outs of different countries has proven to be an important aspect of her job. "Especially in terms of retail, it is important to understand the different cultures and that is not something that is taught in much detail in the United States," she says. Among the first things she bought in London when she first moved there? "A book about the modern history of Europe," she says.
Bryant's journey to London started right here in San Diego, at a Burnham-Moores Center event. She met Brenna O'Roarty, who was at the time the head of Retail Research at Jones Lang LaSalle, at the center's Eighth Annual Real Estate Conference in 2004, where O'Roarty was a speaker. After the conference, O'Roarty and Bryant spent time together touring retail locations throughout San Diego. The two got along so well that O'Roarty later offered Bryant an internship at Jones Lang LaSalle, which eventually led to the job offer in London.
Kyle Moran is a development manager at Gazeley in London, where he has lived for six months. An '05 graduate of the MSRE program, Moran's current job duties consist of establishing new offices, partnerships and securing projects on behalf of customers in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe.
For Moran, the differences in work culture between the United States and England have proven to be salient. Moran has found that the "work hard, play hard" philosophy to be especially prevalent in London's real estate industry, a philosophy that he says matches his own. "It is not uncommon for a three-hour Friday lunch to include several bottles of wine and cocktails," he says. "On the 'work-hard' side, though, I've come back to the office after hitting the gym at 10 p.m. to find the office still buzzing to meet a deadline." Compared to the United States, Moran notes that deal-making and documentation is far less formal in Europe; however, business attire and business presentations are the opposite.
According to Moran, the most substantial difference between the real estate industries in the United States and England can be found in the set-up of the industries. England's real estate industry has "significantly more structure," he says, and the government requires a two-year trial period to attain certification and continuing education credentials before you are allowed to conduct real estate transactions.
USD grad Espen Thoegersen is currently an associate at RREEF in London. Thoegersen, who originally hails from Oslo, Norway came to the United States in 1995 to attend USD and graduated in 2000. After working in New York and San Francisco, Thoegersen made the leap back across the pond to London, where he has lived since the summer of 2006. He now works for RREEF Opportunity Funds, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, where he is responsible for "originating and underwriting value-added and opportunistic deals across all of Europe."
Thoegersen says that the lack of standardized real estate practices across Europe makes conducting business difficult, as different jurisdictions have different tax and legal structures. Despite the challenging legal and business environment, big deals are being made. Thoegersen, for example, is part of a five-person team in the midst of a €5 billion real estate transaction in continental Europe.
Thoegersen echoes Moran's sentiments about London's "work hard-play hard" work culture, which contrasts that of the United States—where typically 'play hard' generally isn't considered as important. In Europe, Thoegersen says: "It's actually accepted to take a day off every now and then."