Success happens

Meet Masters in Real Estate Development Student Parks Underdown

Xmas Family Pic Cropped - Copy

Since starting the MRED program in August 2010, Parks has maintained a pace that also enables him to keep up with his son, Parks V–born the same month he started his graduate degree.

As a Regional Operations Manager for AvalonBay Communities, Mason real estate development student Parks Underdown supports approximately 20 multifamily communities across the Mid-Atlantic region. His work entails analyzing and monitoring operations systems, training onsite teams, and implementing new corporate technology initiatives, as well as supporting the investments, finance and property operations groups for acquisitions nationwide.“When I applied to the Mason real estate program, I had about five years of experience in mortgage lending and property management, but my real interests were in finance and real estate investment,” says Parks. “I knew I needed to learn the valuation and analysis skills that would advance my career and give me an entrée into the development arena.”

Sometimes referred to by his classmates as an “Excel wizard,” Parks has honed his finance skills thorough his core real estate courses and by choosing MBA electives such as Investment Analysis and Managerial Economics.“One my most memorable experiences was a great (but tough) entitlements/law class that focused on risk management and legal contracts,” says Parks. “Like almost all of my courses, this class included several team projects. With each team member bringing a diverse set of skills and perspectives to the table, this is the best way to learn about getting a development deal done.”

As he approaches graduation, there’s one real estate program experience Parks puts at the very top of his list: Representing George Mason University’s program in the 2013 NAIOP Capital Challenge Case Competition. “Working with an amazing group of classmates and bringing home that first place trophy was an opportunity I’ll never forget.”


Parks (second from left) with his “amazing” Mason MRED teammates.




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Janet Palmisano

Janet Palmisano is a member of the Recruiting and Admissions team at the George Mason University School of Business.

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