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Vanderbilt MBA Team Wins CoreNet Global Academic Challenge 5.0

Nov 12, 2019
A team of three first-year MBAs — Burke Wiggins, Roger Mecham, and Joseph Cavicchi — beat out 42 other teams to take first place

By Kara Sherrer

A Vanderbilt Business School team of first-year MBAs won the CoreNet Global Academic Challenge 5.0 at the organization’s Anaheim conference earlier in October. CoreNet Global is a non-profit corporate real estate association that represents executives in 50 countries.

From left to right: Ryan Cameron, Roger Mecham, Burke Wiggins, Joseph Cavicchi, and Ian Prunty

The Vanderbilt team — Burke Wiggins, Roger Mecham, and Joseph Cavicchi (all MBA’21) — learned about the competition through an email from the Owen Real Estate Club. An Owen alum and CoreNet member, Ian Prunty (MBA’11), had reached out to the club to notify leadership of the competition. The club leaders then passed the opportunity along to its members, and the three first-year MBAs decided to apply for it. “We thought, let’s put our name in the hat and see what happens,” Mecham said.

The competition challenge asked students to “play the role of an internal corporate real estate team in order… (to) develop a proactive strategy to: (a) ‘Recession-proof’, to the extent possible, the corporate real estate portfolio, (b) continue to support the business objectives of the corporation and (c) ensure that such a strategy does not negatively impact the company in the unlikely event that a recession does not materialize.”

The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students all over the world. Forty-two schools from 35 universities across 18 countries applied to the first round. A few weeks later, the Vanderbilt team was notified they were one of three finalists selected to fly to Anaheim to present at the conference. The other finalists were teams from the University of Washington and the Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.

The team continued to prepare for the competition, though they were told to hold off on making their presentation deck until they actually arrived at the conference. Once they did, they had a couple days to network with real estate professionals at the conference and gain industry knowledge that they worked into their final deck. “They wanted our presentation to rely heavily on input from the industry professionals at the conference,” Cavicchi explained.

“There are a lot of heavy hitters in the industry there,” Mecham added. “Before we went on out there, we said ‘Our biggest goal is to network, shake hands, get business cards, and then our second goal is to actually win the whole thing.’”

The certificate the winning team received

The team presented to an audience of more than 150 people for about 15 minutes, followed by five minutes of Q&A. Judges included directors of real estate for major corporations such as Oracle, Airbnb, and Kraft-Heinz.

Later that day, the judges announced the outcome of the competition and named Vanderbilt the winner. The team received $5,000 in prize money as well as a certificate from CoreNet. “When they announced our name, we felt ecstatic. It was really surreal,” Mecham said.

More about CoreNet Global:

CoreNet Global is a non-profit association, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, representing more than 11,000 executives in 50 countries with strategic responsibility for the real estate assets of large corporations. The organization’s mission is to advance the practice of corporate real estate through professional development opportunities, publications, research, conferences, designations and networking in 46 local chapters and networking groups globally. Visit the website to learn more.

More about the Owen Real Estate Club:

The Owen Real Estate Club is organized to foster understanding of the role of real estate, share knowledge of careers in real estate, provide opportunities for students to exhibit knowledge and skills to employers, and encourage and facilitate development of relationships among Owen students and real estate companies in the Nashville community and across the country. The club hosts informational meetings, sponsors guest speakers, and encourages students to get involved with real estate projects with companies in the greater Nashville community. For more information, visit the club’s website or contact President Benjamin Dachille at

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