Related's Ross and Perez

MIAMI-When you gather the likes of Related’s Stephen M. Ross and Jorge Perez, Darca’s Craig Robins, Wells Fargo’s Mark Meyers and a host of other movers and shakers in the real estate industry at a single event, you should expect standing room only.

That was the scene at 600 Brickell on Friday as the University of Miami hosted its second Real Estate Impact Conference. With two panel sessions and a keynote featuring real estate and financing thought leaders, the 14th floor was flooded with professionals, students and alumni ready to glean.

“One of the most important contributions our business community can make is to come back and talk to our students about what it’s really like out there,” says Eugene W. Anderson, dean of UM’s School of Business Administration. “Many times you don’t even know what the opportunities are, let alone what it takes to be successful.”

Anderson’s vision for the Real Estate Impact Conference is to disseminate intellectual capital and encourage networking among real estate professionals and School of Business students. Of course, Anderson is also keen on raising UM’s visibility and reputation in South Florida and beyond.

One panel session, “Game-Changing Real Estate Developers” explored the power of the urban landscape to change the course of a city’s future. That panel featured Robins, the CEO and president of Darca who has made his mark on Miami Beach and now Midtown Miami, as well as Yaromir Steiner, CEO of Steiner and Associates. Neisen Kasdin from Akerman Senterfitt moderated the panel.

The second panel, “U.S. Commercial Real Estate Markets: The View from Home and Abroad” explored the perspectives of both foreign and domestic investors on U.S. commercial markets, with a focus on South Florida. The panel included: Seamus Foran, senior vice president of Brookfield Asset Management; Michael Fuchs, co- principal of RFR Holding; Paulo Melo, principal of Integra Solutions; and Myers, executive vice president at Wells Fargo. Steven Witkoff, chairman and CEO of The Witkoff Group, moderated the session.

“I find it valuable to hear the panelist’s perspectives. They are sharing key data points. I want to get all the information I can. This conference was another forum for gathering information and networking,” Witkoff says. “People are beginning to see the business school has relevance.”

UM President Donna Shalala introduced Ross, chairman of Related Companies and Perez, chairman of The Related Group. In a casual session, the partners asked each other questions about reshaping South Florida, national and international real estate markets.

The conference made an impact on Thomas Bartelmo, president and CEO of Kislak. His company, along with DouglasElliman Real Estate and The Witkoff Group, were lead conference sponsors. Bartelmo says part of his company’s culture is to give back to the community—and supporting education is a key part of that effort.

“Opportunities to assemble so many leaders in the real estate community in an educational setting dovetails with our philanthropy endeavors,” says Bartelmo. “Real estate is the number one industry in South Florida and UM is the premier university in South Florida with a top notch real estate program. It’s vital for UM to host conferences like this one.