UW-Madison delegation finds optimism and opportunities in Asia

“Cautious optimism” is the economic outlook from Asia, according to a survey conducted at MIPIM Asia last week by the Wisconsin School of Business in cooperation with HKUST Business School.

“The strong sense of optimism that we’ve seen in the last two years in Asia has been justified,” says François Ortalo-Magné, Albert O. Nicholas Dean of Wisconsin School of Business.  Ortalo-Magné presented the survey findings at the annual real estate and investment conference in Hong Kong, which is attended by 1,800 senior real estate executives, retailers, government officials and city administrators from 41 countries. This is the third annual investor survey he has led at this conference.

An obvious reflection of this optimism is the fact that more than half of the participants surveyed at the conference reported improved or at least the same level of business activity in the current quarter compared to the same quarter last year.

“China is the unavoidable market because of the scale and the performance of the economy,” says Ortalo-Magné.

Ortalo-Magné’s visit is part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s broader efforts at deepening relationships with government, business and education leaders in China. He accompanied Gilles Bousquet, dean of the Division of International Studies and vice provost for globalization, and Laurie Dennis, associate director of the Wisconsin China Initiative (WCI), to meetings in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

“The sense that I get each time I visit Asia is that the center of gravity in the world is moving here,” says Ortalo-Magné. Last November, he accompanied former UW–Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin and her delegation on a trip to Asia intended to strengthen academic relationships in the region and promote collaborative economic development.

Bousquet adds, “We are seeking to create a unique UW presence that is consistent with the Wisconsin Idea and highlights the strengths of our world-class university, matched to the needs in China.”

UW–Madison already has a variety of connections with many of the top Chinese universities, including the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

HKUST Business School is among three of the world’s leading business schools (along with HEC Paris and INCAE-Costa Rica) in a ground-breaking partnership with the Wisconsin School of Business to offer the Global Real Estate Master (GREM) degree program. Joe Walsh, director of the program, joined Ortalo-Magné for part of his Asia trip.

“There is strong demand for high-level education in real estate in Asia,” says Walsh.

Ortalo-Magné and Walsh are working to expand the GREM program, which combines graduate-level instruction in economics, finance, and business administration at one of the partner schools with training in the principles of international real estate during a capstone semester at Wisconsin. They met with university officials, local real estate industry leaders and prospective students.

While in Hong Kong, Ortalo-Magné also addressed the American Chamber of Commerce and met officials with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), a prominent worldwide organization for professionals in property, land, construction and related environmental issues. Wisconsin’s BBA and MBA real estate degree programs have been accredited by RICS.

“When I hear this time referred to as the ‘Decade of the Pacific,’ it reinforces to me how much smaller our world is getting and in turn how important it is to have a global awareness in all we do,” says Ortalo-Magné.

— by Kris Hammargren