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Real Estate Giant, School of Business Strengthen Ties to Bolster Student Success

Worzala, Wigfield and Lea

It all started with an index card on a job board at the College of Charleston’s Career Center.

Recruiters from the property management company Greystar were looking for students to work part-time. Excited by the prospect of interning for the largest apartment manager in the nation and the largest multifamily manager in the world, Business Administration major Todd Wigfield (pictured left, center) figured it was worth a shot. So he got dressed in his suit and went down to the corporate headquarters on Broad St. for an interview.

That was in 2000 when Wigfield was a senior. One internship, a full-time job offer and more than 15 years later, Greystar is the only employer he’s ever really known. 

Now a senior managing director for Greystar and one of the company’s most successful developers, Wigfield is a significant thread in the ties that bind the real estate company and the College of Charleston School of Business.

Making Connections Through Our Faculty Network

And the ties keep getting stronger. Over the years, the Greystar/School of Business relationship has become a case study for what a powerful alumni network can do for students. Currently, more than 20 School of Business alumni work for the company.

Adam Lea '15 (pictured above, right), was introduced to Greystar through the College as well; though there was no card on a bulletin board or even a job posting online. Instead, he has an investment professor to thank for the job lead.

As a member of the School of Business Investment Program, Lea forged a close relationship with program director and associate professor of finance, Mark Pyles, who told him about a job opening at Greystar.

Harnessing the skills and knowledge he attained as a finance major and real estate minor, Lea applied and ultimately landed the position. He currently works as a finance associate at Greystar, where he analyzes and secures loans for acquisitions and development.

Bridging the Gap Between Passion and Profession

Lea’s passion for both finance and real estate was one that he shared with many business students. The demand for more real estate-focused courses ultimately contributed to the creation of the School’s newest major, Commercial Real Estate Finance (CREF).

Announced earlier this fall, the CREF degree is the only program of its kind in the nation. It’s innovative curriculum provides students with versatile learning experiences that integrate multiple disciplines such as real estate, finance, urban studies and more.

Lea believes the new degree program has the potential to be very beneficial for students interested in real estate. “I know that both my finance degree and exposure to real estate has played an integral role in my success thus far,” he said.

According to Elaine Worzala (pictured above, left), Real Estate professor and director of the Carter Real Estate Center (CREC), Greystar’s active role at the School of Business has been “instrumental to the successful transitions our students have made into the real estate industry.” She explains that the company has helped business students by speaking to classes, hiring undergraduates as interns and extending job offers to them.

“We appreciate what Greystar’s hands-on involvement has brought to our students, the CREF program and the Center,” says Worzala. “Having an industry leader like Greystar available to our students has given them experiential learning opportunities that are unmatched.”

Worzala is hopeful that CREC and Greystar will continue to work closely to develop a more formal, mutually beneficial partnership — enabling the School of Business to continue to provide students with life-changing out-of-the-classroom and career development experiences.

Putting a Face (and Skills) to a Name

The Watch Event

And it's already taking place. Greystar recently hosted a recruiting event on campus with the Real Estate Club and held a reception at The Watch Rooftop Kitchen and Spirits, where Greystar employees and business students networked.

Kristen McMullen, director of the Student Success Center at the School of Business, says it is these types of alumni and employer interactions that bolster student advancement.

“Cultivating partnerships and maintaining connections with employers that have a substantial School of Business alumni base is essential to enhancing opportunities for all of our students,” she says. “Building those relationships is key.”

Interestingly enough, it is this type of building — relationship building — that stands out to Wigfield by and large.

“The buildings are cool, but at the end of the day, they are buildings,” he says. “It’s the relationships that I make that I appreciate the most.”

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