New $1M software for students at Jonathan Wener Centre for Real Estate

Toronto’s Altus Group makes gift to Campaign for Concordia and John Molson School of Business
September 22, 2021
By Ian Harrison, BComm 01

 students at a computer

A group of Jonathan Wener Centre for Real Estate students will get a unique experiential learning opportunity starting this fall, thanks to a generous software donation to Concordia.

Altus Group has contributed software licenses worth $1.04 million for two courses offered through the Wener Centre at the John Molson School of Business.

ARGUS — the company’s real-estate asset and portfolio management software — will give students “a jump-start” before they embark on careers in the industry, says Robert Courteau, BComm 81, LLD 11, Altus Group’s CEO from 2012 to 2020.

blakc and white headshot of Robert Courteau, BComm 81, LLD 11, Robert Courteau, BComm 81, LLD 11, Altus Group’s CEO from 2012 to 2020.

“When Concordia established its real-estate curriculum it was pretty obvious that it would be a good idea for Altus to support it,” says Courteau, a donor to the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now who helped facilitate the gift to his alma mater. “The ARGUS software that the students will use is a standard globally for commercial property valuation, investment management and portfolio management”

“We are grateful for this gift from the Altus Group that will truly benefit our students,” says Anne-Marie Croteau, dean of John Molson. “Hands-on exposure to software that is widely accepted as the industry standard will give them an edge as they enter the workforce.”

‘A huge plus’ for students

The gift from the provider of services to the global commercial real-estate industry comes a year after the Wener Centre was announced as a new hub for real-estate education and research. The centre was made possible thanks to a $10-million gift from Concordia Chancellor Jonathan Wener, BComm 71.

“The Altus Group takes tremendous pride in this partnership with Concordia University,” says Desiree Martin, a senior director of global training and support at Altus Group. “We are excited to provide new groups of students with access to our software used by more than 7,000 clients and taught in more than 250 universities and colleges worldwide.”

The courses the software will benefit, FINA 420 Real Estate Finance and MSCA 632 Special Topics in Finance (Real Estate), are taught by Erkan Yönder, Concordia’s Laurentian Bank Professor in Real Estate.

A member of the Wener Centre’s advisory board, Yönder’s realm of expertise includes real-estate finance, commercial real estate and commercial mortgages. The researcher and lecturer was trained on the ARGUS software this past June.

Erkan Yönder, Concordia’s Laurentian Bank Professor in Real Estate Erkan Yönder, Concordia’s Laurentian Bank Professor in Real Estate.

“The software is one of the most popular examples of prop-tech, or property technology, used by industry practitioners today,” says Yönder. “The fact that our real-estate finance students will have access to this powerful tool is a huge plus for them — and for the development of the Wener Centre.”

‘ARGUS helped me get my foot in the door’

Yönder explains that prop-tech is a hot field that could soon rival the better known fintech, or financial technology, in terms of visibility and importance.

Practical knowledge of ARGUS offers considerable advantages, adds Kevin Walsh, BComm 05.

Walsh majored in finance at Concordia and has a Master of Science in Real Estate from DePaul University. He now manages global real-estate funds as a senior portfolio manager for DWS Group and says that ARGUS’s scalable, data-driven approach is instrumental for him and his group of analysts.

“Before I started my career, a senior executive urged me to gain some familiarity with the software,” says the Chicago-based Walsh, who spoke to Yönder’s students about his experience with ARGUS earlier this year. “It was the best piece of advice I could have received. Having ARGUS training on my resumé helped me get my foot in the door.”

With enthusiasm for Montreal’s — and Canada’s — real-estate market on the rise, the gift from Altus Group comes at an auspicious time.

“There is a lot amount of excitement for real-estate knowledge among students at Concordia,” says Yönder.

“I previously taught in the Netherlands and Turkey, where I typically had 20 students per undergraduate course. Here at John Molson, we have more than 10 times that many students enrolled in FINA 420, our real-estate finance course.”

Those students will now have a chance to become proficient with software used by top firms like Ivanhoé Cambridge and Colliers.

What’s more, as Wener Centre director Michel Deslauriers, BComm 85, anticipated a year ago, students will “enter the industry with the knowledge they need to add value to their profession right away.”

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