2021 MBAs To Watch: Carolyn Kane, University of Wisconsin

Carolyn Kane

Wisconsin School of Business

A driven yet empathetic leader, dedicated to success both personally and for others.”

Hometown: Deephaven, MN

Fun fact about yourself: As a collegiate athlete in undergrad, I was a two-time Division III NCAA Champion and four-time Academic All American. I am now putting that passion for training and performance into training for my third half marathon and my first triathlon.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Denison University, BA in Economics and Communication, 2017

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Lument (formerly, RED Capital Group) – Analyst, Multifamily Originations

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Link Logistics Real Estate (Blackstone’s U.S. Industrial Operating Platform) – Chicago and Minneapolis

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to Link Logistics as an Investments Analyst

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-President Real Estate Club in Fall 2020
  • Co-Vice President Real Estate Club in Spring 2020
  • Commercial Real Estate Finance Council Debt Case Competition runner-up
  • Team member of 2020 UNC Real Estate Development Challenge
  • Forté Fellow
  • CREW Scholarship
  • Goldie Scholar (The Goldie B. Wolfe Miller Women Leaders in Real Estate Initiative)
  • Nathan Brand Award for Excellence in Real Estate Analysis
  • Grader/Reader for RE306 The Real Estate Process

I was elected by students as Co-President of the Wisconsin Real Estate Club in Fall 2020 and Co-Vice President in Spring 2019. With 537 undergraduate real estate students and 40+ graduate real estate students, being Co-President of the club was a great experience in building leadership skills. As Co-President, I enjoyed facilitating opportunities to engage with real estate professionals, connect with alumni, host key speakers, and plan networking events. In the remote environment, I had to be innovative with events that would educate and build culture that would ignite engagement.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being recognized as a Goldie Scholar is a true honor. I love being part of group of women who are passionate about real estate and helping each other become leaders in our roles. Traveling to Chicago monthly (and in the pandemic, meeting online) to connect with this community continues to inspire me to excel in my academic and professional life. More importantly, it has provided lifelong friends, supportive mentors, and an invaluable professional network.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My greatest professional achievement was receiving and accepting an offer at my dream company. I have never been a person who settles and this is true with my career. Heading into the MBA program, I knew I had a lot of skills to gain in order to receive an offer with one of the top global real estate companies and find a workplace culture that would allow me to continue to grow. Therefore, I took every opportunity to “be a sponge” and develop my skills. Maintaining academic excellence while interning at Link Logistics part-time, being Co-President of the Real Estate Club, competing at case competitions, networking, and forging meaningful relationships all helped me succeed in this goal. I am thrilled to launch into my full-time position at Link Logistics in June 2021.

Why did you choose this business school? I was drawn to Wisconsin by the specialization model. Nearly every MBA program provides a broad understanding of all aspects of business, but not all offer the specialization focus I needed to grow and advance my real estate career. The real estate program is one of the best in the nation and has an exceptional alumni network.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Mark Eppli, Real Estate Private Equity. Mark’s passion, high expectations, and steadfast diligence to teaching is priceless. Mark goes the extra mile to ensure his students have a “best in class” learning opportunity. It was invaluable to take the private equity course in which students analyze live prospective real estate investments and present our analysis to the Investment Board of the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association (WREAA) Investment Fund for approval.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event as a Wisconsin MBA student is Thursday after Professional Studies (TAPS). TAPS is a weekly happy hour event in which MBA students discover new places around Madison and get to know people within the program. Events like this build a welcoming and close-knit community within the UW MBA program — an essential part of the MBA experience. The students made me feel like I was member of the UW-Madison family, even when I was a prospective student. They invited me to TAPS during a snow blizzard, which made me feel that I could build meaningful relationships and really feel at home at UW.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? There are still many students whom I would like to get to know better. The small program size is a great opportunity to learn from my peers. However, remote learning has made it challenging to connect with classmates. With this hindsight, I wish I had been more proactive from Day 1 in understanding more of my classmate’s diverse backgrounds and unique passions.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that the specialization model limits general business knowledge. However, this was not my experience. I learned a breadth of important knowledge and management skills, specifically related to strategy, decision-making, organization management, and negotiations. Additionally, the curriculum offered courses in which I could focus on my real estate career goals. It’s the best of both worlds.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was surprised by how truly collaborative and supportive my classmates are. Study groups have been my greatest learning resource within the program. Rather than being concerned if a classmate will achieve a higher grade, we are more concerned with the learning outcomes. Additionally, my classmates are immensely supportive of each other in the job search and application process. We help each other prepare for interviews and are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. This is an incredible environment to learn and grow in.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? In the application process, I stood out for my authenticity and forging my own path in real estate, a traditionally male-dominated industry. The lack of diversity in commercial real estate has never swayed me in my goals nor defined my roles. In one of my first roles within the industry, my team consisted of all men. I would be in a board room with 20 men and myself. Rather than the clear gender divide setting me back, I use it as a motivator and an opportunity to excel. The authenticity and hard work that I displayed, set me up to stand out and be memorable in the business.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Berenice Rodriguez is an incredible woman. I first got to know Berenice on an MBA international trip to Germany and Croatia. Her welcoming personality, desire to understand others, and active listening skills struck me. A few months later, I learned that Berenice is the Forte Ambassador for the Wisconsin MBA program in which she works to build a small community of women that support one another. My admiration for Berenice grew this fall when she started a Diversity and Inclusion Learning Group. Berenice co-founded the Learning Group to lead fruitful discussions to expand understanding of diversity and inclusion with classmates. Overall, Berenice is an inspiring woman whose passion and work are positively impacting the UW MBA and beyond.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? While classes and internships shifted to a hybrid environment, I was able to add some normalcy back to my life. A few of my closest friends and I formed a social bubble. We were able to still have bonfires, make dinner, play board games, and study together. These friends have become like family and have been a source of comfort and support throughout the shift to an online environment

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents. While in my undergrad liberal arts education, I already knew that I wanted to pursue a business education one day.  My parents supported this idea and urged me to take the GMAT during the summer between junior and senior year. Two years after undergrad graduation, there was one specific day at work where it “hit me” that it was time to learn the important knowledge and management skills that I was lacking to reach my goals. On the way home from work, I called my dad and we decided it was time to apply to MBA programs. The support my parents gave me, both emotionally and financially, are what ultimately influenced my decision to pursue an MBA.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Become a C-suite leader that uses my unique voice in real estate to drive progressive and innovative ideas.
  2. Make a positive impact on youth from economically disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds by utilizing the skillsets I gained in the MBA program, my relationships, and my real estate network.

What made Carolyn Kane such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Carolyn Kane has continued to make ongoing contributions to the Class of 2021 on multiple levels as follows:

Leadership – Carolyn served as Co-Vice President and then Co-President of the 250+ student lead Real Estate Club over the course of two semesters. During her Co-President role, she was able to seamlessly pivot and shift regular Real Estate Club meetings from in-person to virtual and sustain student interest and participation with varied guest speakers and panelists on a wide array of real estate topics. Carolyn was also selected to be one of the team leaders for the Private Equity track this academic year and was also one of four students that was chosen and helped secure a second place finish in the Commercial Real Estate Finance Council’s case competition fall 2019 in NYC – garnering a $15,000 prize for the Graaskamp Center!

Engagement – Carolyn was selected as a Goldie Scholar through the Goldie Initiative and has actively participated in that organization 2020-2021 Goldie Scholars – The Goldie Initiative while also being the beneficiary of their $15,000 scholarship award. Carolyn was also selected as a $5,000 recipient of the CREW scholarship (Commercial Real Estate Women) and several Graaskamp Center merit scholarship awards from dedicated Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni.

Commitment – Carolyn was chosen for a summer 2020 internship with Link Industrial in Chicago that was converted from in-person to virtual due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Her performance in that virtual summer internship resulted in an offer to work part-time during the school year and in turn resulted in a full-time job offer upon graduation May 2021. I have no doubt that Carolyn will also remain engaged and committed to the Wisconsin Real Estate program through the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association (WREAA) upon graduation May 2021 and as a future mentor to real estate students.

Academic achievement – Carolyn has the highest MBA RE student grade point average amongst her 11 other MBA RE classmates and was also selected to work as a grader for the introductory Real Estate Process course, RE 306 during the second year of her MBA RE program. Carolyn was also chosen as one of 14 graduate real estate students to participate in the Private Equity Track as part of her graduate real estate degree program.

Reliability / Responsiveness – If Carolyn has a question, she is willing to reach out to me and ask and when questions or issues arise that need her attention, she is reliably responsive. I know that I can always count on Carolyn to follow-through on any matter or question regardless of her other commitments.

Appreciative – One can always count on a thank you and expression of sincere appreciation from Carolyn for all that she has received and achieved during her WSB / MBA RE experience. It’s rare to hear Carolyn cite “I” when describing her role in a project – it’s always “we”.

Greg Reed
Associate Director / Faculty Associate, Graaskamp Center
Wisconsin School of Business



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