Global Team for a Global Challenge: GT Students Win Academic Challenge in Singapore

Rida Klink, Catherine Bisson, Eunhwa Yang, Yujin Kim, and Seunghun Jwa celebrate victory

When School of Building Construction majors started their group project, they decided right then to complete it in Singapore.

Catherine Bisson, Rida Klink, Yujin Kim, and Seunghun Jwa not only took their project to the CoreNet Global Academic Challenge in Singapore, they won!

Competition Across Continents

In its third year, the competition already attracts global attention. This year, 434 teams submitted proposals for the first round. The 67 teams who finally competed came from 48 universities in 17 countries.

Only three finalist teams were invited to the CoreNet Global Summit for the last round of competition. This is the second year Building Construction Assistant Professor Eunhwa Yang has taken a team to the finals.

Rida Klink, Eunhwa Yang, Yujin Kim, and Catherine Bisson at Marina Bay, Singapore, at night

Class Project Tackles Global Concerns

The team formed in Dr. Yang's "Professional Trends in Facility Management" class. She assigned her students to split into teams and submit proposals for the competition.

The challenge would help her facility management students to think about corporate real estate—not just as properties to be managed, but as strategic assets that add value.

"Traditionally, real estate is [a company's] second biggest expense after wages. The challenge is contemporary in that we had to think outside the box and look at the real estate as an asset to help the business as a whole," said Klink.

Catherine Bisson, Rida Klink, Yujin Kim, and Eunhwa Yang in front of sculpture in Marina Bay, Singapore, at night

Forming Strategies for Global Risk Management

This year's competition focused on mitigating risk. Teams were given different hypothetical companies faced with a risk scenario and had to present strategies to reduce risk to the corporation.

The Georgia Tech team looked at a global bank headquartered in London facing political upheaval as a result of Brexit.

The first challenge the team faced was getting up to speed on the topics.

"We were faced with understanding the financial industry, corporate real estate, and Brexit. None of us have a backing corporate real estate, so this was a good stretching of the mind muscles for us," said Bisson.

Although none of the team had a lot of familiarity with the topics at the beginning, their differing backgrounds proved to be one of their strengths. "We four members got together and shared our opinions to develop the project. We had three different countries and different opinions [on the team]. It was good to share," said Jwa.

Yujin Kim, Catherine Bisson, Rida Klink, and Eunhwa Yang pose for a selfie.

Professional Networking and Knowledge-share at the Summit

Apart from the competition, the CoreNet Global Summit offered excellent networking opportunities.

CoreNet Global, headquartered in Atlanta, represents corporate real estate executives responsible for real estate assets of mainly large, multinational corporations. Most member corporations manage portfolios of millions of square feet on multiple continents.

Presenting in front of this audience let the students meet high-level professionals in the field.

"I have contacts now in Manila, Shanghai, New York, Austria," said Klink. "I got two job offers just by us being there and us winning the competition."

The students also had opportunities to see how top-level executives approach global strategic problems.

"Huge organizations came to Singapore and talked about a story that happened in their company," said Jwa. "Indirect experience helps us to get ideas about how to approach these types of problems."

"This gives us a practical perspective for research," added Kim.