Two Schulich MBA students awarded real estate scholarships

Schulich MBA students Carolyn Burns and Elena Nesterova have been awarded 2011 scholarships by the Toronto Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) organization.

Launched in 2006, the Toronto CREW scholarships, valued from $1,000 to $3,000, are presented to female students specializing in real estate who intend to pursue a career in commercial real estate.

Scholarship recipients participate in a range of Toronto CREW functions and events, giving them the opportunity to network with some of the industry’s top executives in the real estate sector. Upon graduation, scholarship recipients are also encouraged to apply for Toronto CREW’s Mentorship Program to support them as they develop their careers in the real estate industry.

Carolyn BurnsRight: Carolyn Burns

“As a recipient of the 2011-2012 Toronto CREW scholarship, it is really encouraging to know that there is not only financial support for women interested in commercial real estate, but also a community of people who want to provide guidance and mentorship,” said Burns (MBA ’12), director and founder of Karibou Corp., an organization dedicated to accessible and inspired design goods that challenge the predominate image of African culture around the world.

Burns completed an undergraduate degree in international development. Taking courses in social and economic geography, she developed an appreciation for the influence physical space and structure can have on the development of a city. She became interested in a career in commercial real estate and infrastructure because she believes the industry has the capacity to shape and influence a community.

“In the six years since I graduated, I have had the opportunity to travel to cities all over the world – Asia, Africa, South America, Europe and North America,” said Burns. “Real estate is ingrained in national and global economies, which makes it exciting and relevant and filled with opportunity. I am continuously amazed by the different ways commercial real estate can help or hinder urban societies.”

Burns says having the support of an organization like Toronto CREW makes a big difference as she considers her next career move.

“I applied for the scholarship because I wanted to be a part of the real estate community and I received a lot of support from faculty, administration, current Toronto CREW members and other students. That kind of encouragement made a huge difference when I was putting together my application.”

When she graduates next spring, Burns hopes to work on infrastructure projects in the city. “It is an exciting time to live in Toronto. From the waterfront revitalization and the Pan Am Games to the large transport projects that are getting underway, the city of Toronto is transforming to support its current and ever changing population.” In the future, she hopes she will have the opportunity to work on Elena Nesterova projects in emerging economies.

“While Canada will always be my home, I see a great opportunity in infrastructure and commercial real estate development in cities across the world, particularly South Africa. I see real estate as a career that will allow me to be creative, innovative and contribute to society in a positive way.”

Left: Elena Nesterova

Nesterova (MBA ’12) developed a strong interest in the field of real estate working at IQ Venture Partners, Inc. in New York City, where she was involved in international real estate transactions in Europe and North America.

“Working in real estate requires unique expertise and extensive knowledge in many different areas, from finance to corporate law,” said Nesterova. “I enjoy a good challenge and the field of real estate offers great opportunities for professional growth.”

She said she decided to apply to Schulich because of the strong reputation of the real estate and infrastructure MBA program.

“Schulich has one of the best real estate programs in Canada. The professors are experts in the business and have strong professional networks. Last year, I was able to take a course in infrastructure finance taught by the leading professional in the field,” says Nesterova. “In the course, we discussed real-world projects and gained practical knowledge of project financing. The Schulich real estate program gives students a head start in their careers and helps them develop competitive skills for the profession.”

The Toronto CREW scholarship program is dedicated to empowering women in their pursuit of a career in the Canadian commercial real estate field and offers unique mentorship and networking opportunities for students. Nesterova believes that the support of Toronto CREW will be a great help to her future career in commercial real estate.

“I am honoured to be a Toronto CREW scholarship recipient and I am looking forward to being a part of their network,” she said. “Being a Toronto CREW scholarship recipient offers an unparalleled opportunity for me to attend their events, meet with real estate professionals and develop my knowledge of commercial real estate.”