On Campus: 2016 SREC Conference

The 6th annual SREC Conference represented the largest assembly of SREC members and most diverse programming yet. Over 80 senior executives in the industry heard from professors and leading industry experts while engaging in substantive conversation with their colleagues. This year’s conference was held on November 5 at Paul Brest Hall at Stanford Law School. The program focused on core real estate industry topics, macro-economics and the upcoming federal election.   

The SREC conference is purposefully kept to a small group to provide the members the opportunity to share ideas and thoughts with one another and in a setting not typically found at other conferences. The interactions and discussions are off the record and participants frequently challenge one another’s assumptions and thought processes. The attendees represented a "who’s who" of Stanford alumni participating at the highest levels in the real estate industry across the country. 

The conference began Thursday afternoon with tours of Google and NVIDIA. At Google, John Igoe (MSCE ’70), Director - Design and Construction and Mark Kroll (MS ’75), Co-Founder and Managing Director at Sares Regis discussed real estate management and development challenges Google faces as its workforce expands rapidly. Attendees were then shuttled over to NVIDIA for a site tour and tech demonstrations, which included a demonstration of Kesprey’s drone that NVIDIA has used to collect daily information on the development of the incredible building that will house NVIDIA’s headquarters.

Following the tours, SREC members gathered for a wine-paired dinner in the ballroom at the Rosewood Hotel. Mark Oldman (’91, MBA ’93, JD ’98), one of the country’s leading wine personalities, shared stories and tips with attendees over a 4-course dinner. 

After a great evening together, members rose early to gather at Paul Brest Hall for the conference. The first session focused on capital markets. Ron Sturzenegger of Bank of America moderated this session of real estate private equity principals from New York, the Bay Area, and Chicago to discuss the current state of the US economy, yield expectations, and global opportunities for investments. 

The second session of the day was a presentation from John Burns, CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, on the state of the national residential real estate market, followed by a panel discussion on demographic shifts leading to the creation of new investment opportunities.

The morning concluded with Keith Hennessey (’90), lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, presenting on the economy and the upcoming election. The SREC members were provided an overview of the president-elect’s transition process and were asked to comment on the areas of concern they would like to see addressed by the incoming president. 

The afternoon focused on technology in the real estate business and began with a panel about data. Led by Brendan Wallace (MBA ’10), Co-Founder of Fifth Wall, the panelists discussed the paradox of sharing information in today’s commercial real estate industry, and how technology platforms are providing data depth and accuracy as never seen before. 

The last panel of the day was led by Kyle Ladewig (’08) of Ten-X and focused on Stanford alumni who moved from traditional real estate careers to found disruptive real estate tech companies. 

Travis Duncan (MS’15, MBA ’17) reached out to SREC members at the conference to discuss NAIOP’s Golden Shovel competition in which teams of MBA students from Stanford and Berkeley compete annually by working on a live case study. He also addressed the work of the SPIRE Board of Directors University Relations committee and how SPIRE and SPIRE members can best support the University’s development of a robust and coherent real estate curriculum. Rounding out the day, Michael Lepech, PhD, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, spoke to the discussions taking place in the School of Engineering as to how Stanford can become a leader in the research of creating compelling urban centers of the future.

The Friday conference programming concluded with cocktails for attendees and their spouses. Guests were then shuttled over to Arrillaga Alumni Center to celebrate the induction of Bob Burke (’64, JD ’67) and Sam Freshman (’54, JD ’56) into the Stanford Real Estate Hall of Fame. 

As in years past, Saturday activities were an opportunity for SREC members to gather with one another in more casual settings. Many members went to Green Library to hear from Daniel Hartwig, Stanford University Archivist. Daniel walked the members through an interactive exhibit which celebrated Stanford’s 125th Anniversary. The afternoon activities included a pre-game tailgate in Chuck Taylor Grove followed by the Stanford vs. Oregon State football game. 

In its sixth year, the SREC once again delivered on its objective to provide a platform for unparalleled networking, interaction and thought leadership for alumni at the highest level of the real estate industry.

We look forward to seeing our SREC members at upcoming events and welcoming them back to the SREC Conference in 2017.