2015 Best MBAs: Scott Sowanick

Scott Sowanick - Texas-PoetsAndQuants

Scott Sowanick     


The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business  

The best MBAs leave a legacy. At the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business, Scott Sowanick will be known for driving the launch of the Real Estate Private Equity Fund, perhaps the only student-run fund of its kind among MBA programs. As a student, Sowanick also served as co-president of the Graduate Real Estate Society, portfolio manager for the McCombs REIT Fund, and vice president of the Board Fellows. And he’s a guy who credits his success to his mother: “Her drive, intensity, perseverance, and passion for success helped make me who I am today,” he says.

Age: 29

Hometown: Bethesda, MD        

Undergraduate School: Princeton University

Undergraduate Degree: History

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I was a Vice President in European Equity Sales at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York City.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? I worked as a Summer Associate at Stream Realty Partners in Dallas focused on industrial development opportunities.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working as a Senior Associate in Stream Realty Partners’ Dallas office division.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was a sophomore at Princeton. It was just a matter of when to finally make the move.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…living in Manhattan and working in finance along with all of my friends from college.”

What are your long-term professional goals? My long-term professional goal is to start and run a global real estate investment firm.

Favorite Courses: Opportunity Identification and Analysis, Real Estate Investment Decisions, Seminar in Real Estate Finance, Valuation

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? Two things stand out: First is the Real Estate Private Equity Fund. Last year, my Graduate Real Estate Society Co-President, Kerry Powers, and I discussed launching a student-run real estate private equity fund at UT. McCombs is already known for its student-run REIT Fund, and we felt that adding a complementary private equity vehicle would be invaluable to the program’s future. After earning the necessary administrative support, Kerry, myself, and three fellow MBA’s (Jon Probst, William Shannon, Davis Wiggins) dedicated an independent study this spring semester to figuring out the foundation of the fund (structure, investment style, fundraising strategy, curriculum, etc.). After months of hard work, we are now getting ready to launch our fundraising campaign in May. Subject to our fundraising success, McCombs will be the only MBA program in the country with both private and public equity student-managed real estate funds. Envisioning the positive impact that this fund could have on UT’s future makes this my proudest achievement since being at McCombs.

Second would be our China Real Estate Trip. MBA candidates at McCombs must fulfill a global requirement in order to graduate. One way to accomplish this is taking a Global Connections class, which is a course centered on an international region or country that culminates with a spring break trip to that respective region or country. Prior to this year there has never been a global offering focused on real estate at McCombs. Therefore my classmate, Haijun Gong, and I pitched the members of the McCombs Administration to support a new trip to China focused on real estate. After working persistently throughout this fall semester, we eventually received the approval and sent 17 UT MBA’s to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Beijing this past March. The trip was a huge success and we hope that McCombs will continue having an annual global real estate trip in the program going forward.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My Mom. She raised two sons as a single mother while successfully running her own management consulting firm. Her drive, intensity, perseverance, and passion for success helped make me who I am today.

Why did you choose this business school? I was born in New York, raised in Washington D.C., attended an Ivy League school for college, and worked in the investment banking industry in Manhattan, London, and San Francisco. Business school for me was about personal and professional growth, so I wanted to live in a city and attend a university that provided me with new cultural experiences. The University of Texas outshined every other top MBA program with that in mind.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The quality of people around me. McCombs does an amazing job of admitting incredibly intelligent, ambitious yet humble people into the MBA program.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? My most memorable moment took place on our real estate trip to China in March. We were on the bus in Beijing when my classmate, Haijun, leaned over and said how special it was for him to be traveling back home in China with his classmates from UT. That was something that he never imagined would happen during his two years in business school. I was proud that we could make that a reality for him and I will never forget that conversation.

Fun fact about yourself: My first live concert was Tina Turner (I was 9 years old)

Favorite book: The Great Gatsby, Liar’s Poker

Favorite movie: Major League

Favorite musical performer: Van Morrison

Favorite television show: Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern

Favorite vacation spot: Eaton’s Ranch (Wolf, WY)

What are your hobbies? Cooking, traveling, running, skiing, golf

What made Scott such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?

“Scott really took to heart the idea of leaving McCombs a better place than he found it. He exemplified leadership — even when leading really meant pushing faculty or his colleagues to take risks and make changes. Beyond his leadership of the Graduate Real Estate Society, and even after he had locked up a full-time job, Scott worked with his classmates on a couple of important initiatives that could help define real estate education within the McCombs MBA program for years to come — initiating a global trip to China that focused on real estate, and working on a proposed student-run real estate private equity fund. I expect that we will look back several years later and be struck by how important Scott and this graduating class of MBA students were as instigators of change, especially for the real estate programs at McCombs and UT.

Scott also served on the McCombs Admissions Committee, VP of Board Fellows, non-profit board member of “Kids in a New Groove,” and Co-President of the Graduate Real Estate Society (GRES). Thanks to his leadership, GRES engaged in real estate treks across Texas and the Northeast.”

– Jay Hartzell, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

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