New Real Estate Fund Provides UVA Darden Students with Unique Experiential Opportunities in Asset Management

By Derry Wade

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business has announced the launch of the Real Estate Fund, a timely addition to the highly successful Darden Capital Management club (DCM), which is sponsored by the Richard A. Mayo Center for Asset Management. The new fund presents a significant opportunity for Darden students who wish to pursue careers in real estate and provides a distinct offering among leading business schools.

Darden’s Board of Trustees offered enthusiastic support for the fund and allocated $1 million for its launch at their annual meeting in 2021.

DCM is a unique offering among top business schools. The student-run club manages approximately $27 million in total assets of the Darden School Foundation endowment. DCM provides students with a hands-on experience in investing as they manage six funds with different investment strategies, including long/short, value, global, small-cap, ESG — and now real estate.

Darden Students Led Charge for New Fund
The impetus for launching the Real Estate Fund came initially from Darden students who saw an opportunity to enhance their education in a field that is often underserved by business schools. Working with Professor Pedro Matos, academic director of the Mayo Center, and Rodney Sullivan, the Mayo Center’s executive director, the students put together a plan for establishing and administering the fund.

“I am impressed by our students’ appetite for real-world investment management opportunities in the real estate sector and their commitment to steering Darden toward this key growth area,” said Matos. “Darden Capital Management remains a valuable resource for MBA students interested in hands-on asset management experience.”

Second Year student Sam Harrell (Class of 2022), president of the Darden Real Estate Club, along with several classmates, including DCM officers Samantha Richman (Class of 2022) and Charles Patton (Class of 2022), brought the fund to fruition.

“Darden has recently expanded many exciting options for students interested in real estate, but this fund certainly progresses the level of opportunity,” said Harrell.

Sixth Actively Managed Fund at DCM
The sixth fund within DCM, the Real Estate Fund seeks to deliver strong risk-adjusted performance through investments in real estate investment trusts (REITs) and real estate adjacent securities. It is managed by an inaugural team of First Year students, including Senior Portfolio Manager Lins Agokeng (Class of 2023), and three portfolio managers: Jay Barden (Class of 2023), Mercedes Lee (Class of 2023) and Troy Zieman (Class of 2023). The real estate team operates within a DCM management team overseen by incoming DCM CEO Pablo Fleitas (Class of 2023) and Chief Investment Officer June Sun (Class of 2023).

As of March 2022, DCM’s total assets under management reached approximately $27 million, making the student-led DCM one of the largest programs of its type in business schools around the world.

“Coupled with Darden coursework, a collaborative environment, and a world-class network, this new fund should open doors for real estate roles at firms where UVA already has a presence as well as new real estate–related start-ups,” said Helal “H” Ismail (MBA ’21), vice president of investments, CTO Realty Growth, Inc. “I am excited for the future and grateful to the others that made this happen.”

“As one of a growing number of Darden alumni working in the real estate sector, I’m excited to learn of efforts on Grounds to support student interest in the industry,” said Will Teichman (MBA ’09), senior vice president for strategic operations, Kimco Realty.  “The establishment of the DCM Real Estate Fund will provide students with a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience and knowledge of the real estate industry while inspiring the next generation of purpose-driven leaders to explore real estate careers.”

The new fund adds to a growing suite of real estate activity at the School, including new courses, internship opportunities and advancement initiatives.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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