Masters Students Win 2019 CoreNet Global Academic Challenge

A team of Masters students from the Melbourne School of Design have won the 2019 CoreNet Global Academic Challenge 4.0 in Hong Kong.

CoreNet winners

CoreNet is a non-profit association whose mission is to ‘advance the practice of corporate real estate through professional development opportunities, publications, research, conferences, designations and networking’. The Global Academic Challenge invites students from around the world to think creatively about a problem facing real estate professionals from global companies.

The focus of the 2019 challenge was linking disruptive technological impact (eg. AI, IOT, blockchain, automation) to an organisation’s short-and-long term corporate real estate (CRE) strategies. Master of Property students Mina Li and Fiona Huang, along with Master of Construction Management student Chao Feng responded to a call for entries by Dr Georgia Warren-Myers in late 2018 and worked studiously on a submission, collaborating with Dr Warren-Myers, Dr Chris Heywood and Dr Gideon Aschwanden.

CoreNet #2

Competing against 40 submissions from 6 continents, Mina, Fiona and Chao's pitch was shortlisted as one of three finalists which meant an invite to the final in Hong Kong. Up against previous winners the National University of Singapore and University of Illinois, the students pitched their corporate real estate strategy for ‘BluBanc’ (listen here at 47.00) and confidently responded to all of the judging panels’ questions. Several hours of nail-biting later and the team, alongside their competition advisor Dr Warren-Myers, were announced as winners.

What is the significance of winning the CoreNet Global Academic Challenge?
Fiona Huang: We were able to make an impression with the judges and audiences alike, many of whom are highly ranked CRE executives in the industry within the Asia Pacific region. Apart from getting the opportunity to attend the conference with all expenses covered by CoreNet, we connected with CRE professionals within Australia and have since been invited to many events with the CoreNet Global Australia Chapter in Melbourne.
Chao Feng: Working with experienced teammates from the property sector let me appreciate the value of multidisciplinary collaboration. Apart from implementing new ideas in response to the brief, what was even more exciting was meeting talented young professionals from all over the world and having great conversations. This exchange of ideas and information on an international level was truly rewarding.

CoreNet #3

The challenge centred on how to integrate disruptive technologies into an organisation’s short and long-term strategies. Are you able to share a summation of your approach?
Mina Li: When I first received the competition brief, I didn’t know a lot about new technological applications. The success is truly a multidisciplinary collaboration. We demonstrated how a cross-disciplinary educational background and diverse work experience can help to tackle corporate strategic challenges.
Fiona Huang: As part of the Corporate Real Estate Management subject taught by Chris Heywood, we had many management tools to systematically evaluate and consolidate information to form strategic recommendations for corporate scenarios. Our approach was using a scorecard system to evaluate company objectives against the trends in the industry. From there, the most disruptive technologies were prioritised to form scenarios as inputs for the quantitative assessments on the CRE footprint impacts based on the current real estate portfolio.

Can you expand on the concept of the challenge and its relevance in the real world? Why was the integration of disruptive technologies chosen as the challenge?
Fiona Huang: Through our research for the competition submission, we were able to identify significant progress in technological adoption across many services sectors. These changes are happening very fast and have material impacts on corporate real estate which require strategic planning to meet the needs of the company to ensure business continuity. A few keywords from the conference included employee experiences, co-working, the impacts of technology and intelligent risk-taking.