Building knowledge

Mr Brown gained first-hand insight into the mindset behind Singapore’s outstanding built environment.
Mr Brown gained first-hand insight into the mindset behind Singapore’s outstanding built environment.PHOTO: SAM YEO

Chief investment officer Solon Brown pursues the NUS Master of Science (Real Estate) to gain an even deeper understanding of Singapore’s real estate industry

A REAL-estate professional for close to a decade, Mr Solon Brown, 32, was knowledgeable in the investment and finance aspects of the business but wanted to gain an even deeper understanding of the industry.

“I figured that until I had spent a good amount of time and energy really appreciating the built form and the context in which it exists, I could not fairly judge the quality of the investments for which I was responsible,” says Mr Brown, chief investment officer at Stronghold Capital, a boutique private equity real estate investment management company.

To achieve this, he pursued the Master of Science (Real Estate) degree programme offered by the Department of Real Estate, School of Design & Environment, National University of Singapore (NUS). 

The Department has been running the programme since 1995, with 26 intakes and about 550 graduates so far, and continues to attract a diverse cohort of students.

The course provides exposure at an advanced level to the wide range of issues reflecting the principal areas of specialisation in the real estate profession.

It develops analytical and methodological skills critical for management, decision-making and problem-solving roles.

“Singapore’s built environment is the envy of both developed and developing nations.

“I was excited to gain first-hand insight into the mindset that accompanied that success,” says Mr Brown.

Singapore’s built environment is the envy of both developed and developing nations. I was excited to gain first-hand insight into the mindset that accompanied that success.
MR SOLON BROWN, chief investment officer Stronghold Capital

According to him, the course was taught from a “uniquely Singaporean perspective” — with a mix of core classes and electives drawn from an array of real estate topics.

About half his classmates were on the Master of Science course while the other half were from the NUS Master of Business Administration programme specialising in real estate.

Most were working professionals spanning a variety of backgrounds, including architects, engineers, accountants and bankers.

Mr Brown took two years to complete the part-time course.

“Real estate affects almost every other industry, so in order to understand it well, you need to be cognisant of retail, logistics, transport, tourism, hospitality and the financial service industries, just to name a few,” says Mr Brown, who graduated last year.

The course taught him to critically evaluate and differentiate one location from another, be it a development site, an office block, an entire city or a house with a great view.

Mr Brown most enjoyed the modules in Real Estate Economics and Urban Policy.

“They have both subtly and forever changed the lens through which I view cities and their composition. 

“The subjects were brought to life by passionate, intelligent and thoughtful teachers as well as impressively data-rich bespoke teaching material,” he says.

As part of the International Field Study module, the class travelled to Dubai and Abu Dhabi to understand the issues involved in international real estate, forming great memories and deep friendships along the way.

For many of the part-time students on the course, juggling work and study are their greatest challenge.

Hence, classes are conducted in the evenings to accommodate busy professionals.

Wide appeal

Professionals including urban planners, architects, engineers, accountants and commercial analysts may find the postgraduate course useful.

“The programme works well for those already in the real estate industry who may be looking to expand their knowledge of the investment and finance side of the industry, as well as for those in the commercial lending or investment banking space who may be looking to better understand their developer clients and the decisions they make,” says Mr Brown.

“For me, the cost of tuition and the time spent pursuing the degree were a small price to pay for the experience, knowledge and confidence that I gained, as well as the new network of friends and industry contacts,” he says.

Applications for the August 2017 intake will close on Jan 12. Visit www.rst.nus.edu.sg/programme/mre for more information.

Download PDF version of the Postgraduate Studies I supplement