Matthew Cypher is the director of the Steers Center for Global Real Estate at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. During his time at Georgetown, he has created numerous experiential learning opportunities for students. Prior to joining Georgetown, Cypher was the director of underwriting at Invesco Real Estate and a member of the firm’s investment committee and investment strategy group.
What are some of your priorities as you educate the next generation of commercial real estate leaders?
Job placement is always our top priority within the Steers Center, which requires us to think intently about how we are training our students. We always talk about the portfolio of experiences our students need to build that will result in the employment they desire upon graduation.
Naturally, academic coursework is important, but this needs to be paired with real work. We advocate for our students to intern year-round, which not only offers live training for them, but allows them to build the network that will be so essential in their first job after graduation. Students do not necessarily get hired because they went to a particular school, but they do get hired for the experiences they have had. Our view is that we try to pair a top-quality education in real estate with employable work experience so that our students are competitive for the best jobs.
How much progress has the real estate sector made in terms of embracing diversity?
I can tell you that I get a tremendous number of calls from employers looking to access our diverse student population, which tells me that there is definitely a high degree of focus on this topic. My view is that a diverse real estate industry needs to be built from the ground up, which means that universities play a critical role in demonstrating career paths in real estate for this segment of our student population, but it is our job to train every student so that they can be competitive in the job market of the future.
Has the potential impact of climate change on real estate become a core consideration at this point?
While I definitely believe climate change has become far more central to the investment decision-making and execution process than it has ever been, I am not sure I would suggest that it is a “core” consideration at this point. Until an investment committee turns down deals due to the environmental implications, I do not think we can say it is a core consideration. I am certain that some firms might be taking that stance, but that still seems to be the minority at this point.
What do you see as some of the most exciting emerging trends in real estate today?
I am a smaller market guy, having been raised in the Pittsburgh area, but I find the growth in medium-sized, technology-minded cities, like Pittsburgh, to be really energizing. These markets have great qualities of life, are far more affordable and are now offering careers that are as exciting, if not more exciting, than what is offered in the typical six gateway real estate markets around the country. I like the underlying fundamentals from a pure real estate perspective, and you can find opportunities that would never be available in a major market.