New Real Estate Director Plans Big for Future
Well-known Chicago real estate professional Collete English Dixon has hit the ground running since joining Roosevelt University over the summer as executive director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate and chair of real estate in the Heller College of Business.
A real estate practitioner with more than three decades of experience in transactions, finance and joint ventures, English Dixon recently led the Institute’s 16th annual real estate gala, which has become one of the premier real estate networking events in Chicago.
“It was great to be able to bring hundreds of leaders in the industry together for this important occasion,” English Dixon said of the Nov. 9 gala, which honored real estate icon Patrick FitzGerald and featured a keynote address by high-profile commercial real estate developer Steven Fifield.
English Dixon is no stranger to commercial real estate development. She had a distinguished career as executive director and vice president of transactions for PGIM Real Estate (formerly Prudential Real Estate Investors), where she co-led national disposition efforts.
“We have big plans for the future of the real estate program, which we hope to grow in size, scope and visibility.”
Collete English Dixon, Executive Director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate and Chair of Real Estate in the Heller College of Business
Previously, she served as vice president of Midwest Region Acquisitions for PGIM, where she led new investment efforts in seven Midwest markets. Among her top projects were the development of 550 West Washington; Lincoln Center II and III in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois; and the acquisition of a three-property Kimpton Hotel portfolio in Chicago, Denver and Salt Lake City. She is also a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and three major real estate associations.
“I’m very excited about joining the University and the Marshall Bennett Institute leadership team at this important point in the Institute’s development,” English Dixon said. “We have big plans for the future of the real estate program, which we hope to grow in size, scope and visibility.”
Among her goals, English Dixon plans to introduce an undergraduate real estate degree program. Roosevelt currently offers a Master of Science in Real Estate and an MBA with a concentration in real estate.
“With an undergraduate program, we can put our students onto a career path in growing numbers of entry-level positions that are available throughout the industry,” English Dixon said.
During 2017-18 and beyond, the new real estate program director will be revamping the Institute’s promotional materials and website, and wants to increase speaking opportunities and visibility for the Institute’s world-class faculty. Fundraising and doubling the Institute’s enrollment are also
Shoe Game: Roosevelt business students strategize a win
The margin of victory was close (one bonus point in the final round), but a team of Roosevelt University business students fought hard last semester to win the prestigious International Business Strategy Invitational.
Three Roosevelt business students competed as a team in the online game-style competition that pits students from around the world against each other in a simulated capitalistic free-for-all.
The winning Roosevelt students were Guillermo Fernandez, Anastasia Luca and David Banks. They came together in Roosevelt business management instructor Dennis Tucker’s Business Policy and Strategy class, the capstone course for the University’s undergraduate business program.
In the course, Tucker uses a teaching tool called The Business Strategy Game, in which classmates divide into teams of three and are assigned to co-manage a fictitious athletic shoe company.
Each team starts its company with the same budget and metrics, but from there every decision the team makes — branding, marketing, production, pricing, inventory, compensation, financing, investment, etc. — is fed into a computer and analyzed.
The cause-and-effect dynamics of each team’s decisions are then compared, and points are awarded or subtracted based on an algorithm that predicts how their decisions would play out in the real world. No single strategy can win and, much like chess, the success or failure of a tactic depends entirely on what a team’s competitors are doing.
“I like the game because it gives students the opportunity to experience the kind of live decision-making that’s really involved in running a company,” Tucker said. “It allows them to make decisions, see the consequences of those decisions, and recognize the inter-relationship among all of a business’s function areas.”
Winners of the classroom competition were eligible to participate in the Business Strategy Invitational, a version of the game in which students from around the world compete against each other over a two-week period.
This spring, Roosevelt’s team — which named itself G RU Shoe — defeated 10 other teams from as far away as Greece and Thailand. How did the team win? By changing strategy — and not sleeping much.
“Our initial strategy wasn’t working, so we had to adjust to survive,” said Fernandez, whom his teammates refer to as “The Boss.” During the competition, the team often worked through the night. “Mr. Tucker said we’d probably lose some sleep, and he was right. Sometimes we didn’t finish until 5 a.m.”
“The game is a great tool for the capstone course in business,” Banks said. “It makes you think about all the elements in running a business, and it’s very realistic. You get to pretend that you’re the CEO.”
This isn’t the first team from Tucker’s class to win the international competition. Over the past 18 years, he has fielded five winning teams, an accomplishment he modestly attributes to the students he teaches.
“It’s a kudo to Roosevelt students, not me,” he said. “I’m just the facilitator.”
The Hospitality Biz: The bond for a strong future
Hospitality and tourism are the engine of Chicago’s economy, and for decades Roosevelt University has served the city’s need for leadership in these industries through the Manfred Steinfeld School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
One of the most recognized hospitality education programs in Illinois, Roosevelt’s degree offerings for undergraduate, graduate and executive hospitality students recently added a new dimension by joining the Heller College of Business.
“The College of Business is a natural fit for us,” said Carol Brown, associate professor and chair of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program. Brown believes the marriage between hospitality and business is important for both practical and symbolic reasons. “Many people think of hospitality management as a trade, but it’s not — it’s a professional discipline.”
In addition to offering certificate, bachelor’s, master’s and executive master’s degrees in hospitality and tourism management, the program will expand to include new MBA programs with concentrations in hospitality management and real estate.
“Being a part of the business school will give our program an extra measure of credibility and prestige.”Associate Professor and Chair of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program
“Many of our courses are business-related: accounting, marketing, project management, etc.,” Brown said. “Being a part of the business school will give our program an extra measure of credibility and prestige.”
The program launched in 1987 with generous financial support from Steinfeld (BS, Honorary Doctorate, ’97), and was the first program of its kind in Illinois to offer graduate-degree opportunities for many seeking management positions. Today, many of the school’s graduates staff and run Chicago’s internationally known hotels, restaurants, and meeting and convention venues.
“Our alumni work widely in the hospitality management and tourism field, and embody our program’s commitment to service and professionalism,” said Brown, who notes that the industry is rapidly changing locally, nationally and globally.
Increased technological sophistication, more complex cultural interactions, broader management responsibilities and a hyper-competitive business environment are among factors boosting demand for hospitality professionals, who are as comfortable using a spreadsheet as they are ordering bed sheets.
“Our graduates don’t just want to work in hotels and restaurants,” Brown said. “They want to be employed as consultants, by accounting firms, and as management advisors in major corporations.”
She believes broader degree possibilities and a firmer grounding in an expanding number of business disciplines will position Roosevelt graduates to become the kind of leaders the industry needs. The expansion will also allow Roosevelt’s hospitality management program to remain competitive in a rapidly expanding hospitality-education marketplace, according to Brown.
“In most cities and countries, hospitality and tourism are the top economic drivers, which is why so many colleges are adding hospitality management to their curriculum.”
This trend is not likely to slow down anytime soon.
“There will never be a shortage of jobs in our industry,” Brown said, and demand for competent, qualified professionals is at an all-time high. Add all those factors together, and it spells success for the bond between hospitality management and business.
“It’s absolutely right and advantageous for our hospitality management program and Roosevelt’s Heller College of Business to be joined together.”