“The mission of our Real Estate Investment Management minor is to prepare our students within the Broad College for careers in any real estate–related role,” said Jim Anhut (MBA Hospitality Business ’85).
Anhut joined The School of Hospitality Business on Aug. 16 as the director of the REIM minor and a fixed-term instructor. He steps into this role with a diverse industry background as a third-generation hospitality executive and with a genuine bond to the Broad College.
“I started my career after graduating from MSU where a lot of our Real Estate Investment Management minor program graduates would start, and that was as an investment analyst in the finance department of a fast-growing real estate development company,” Anhut said.
In his impressive 35-year career, he has touched on branding and real estate investment and has been in various senior leadership roles. Anhut is a serial corporate “intrapreneur,” having launched five different hospitality brands, and has worked with some of the most inspiring and influential people in the hospitality business.
As an industry practitioner chosen to return to campus for this role, Anhut is looking forward to sharing his real-world experience, allowing current Spartans to tap into his professional network, and “shaking the knowledge and experience” out of his head to pass along to the next generation of leaders. He is motivated to pay it forward.
“You must have people around you who are mentoring and guiding, and I bring that mindset to the table, quite frankly because I had the good experience of having people like that around me,” Anhut said.
Spartan network connections
His bond with MSU and the Broad College dates to his days on campus as an MBA student studying hospitality business in the 1980s. He took advantage of the Spartan alumni network as his professors connected him and his classmates with industry leaders who also graduated from MSU.
“Those relationships forged in the beginning were the reason to stay involved and connected, and this very hospitable Hospitality Business program is very enabling in this regard and allows our network to thrive,” Anhut said. He has been an active alumnus, having held key roles on both The School of Hospitality Business Alumni Association and the REIM advisory boards.
Anhut has enjoyed being invited back to campus to speak in classes about his professional experience, and he has been engaged in the Spartan Sponsors Mentor Program to directly share advice with students.
“There is an obligation to give back and share,” he said. He described MSU’s School of Hospitality Business as being friendly, receptive to feedback and interaction, and above all, willing to help others grow. He is excited to be back on campus and contribute to this reputation in his new role.
Dedication to the REIM program
The REIM program was first launched as a specialization in 2005 and was a product of both faculty and industry expertise. Anhut has been involved since its inception, and he explained that he was invited to help create the program alongside a few other industry experts.
The program has grown into a minor and is open to all MSU undergraduate students. It is comprehensive in its course content and requires 25 credit hours. The program begins with a general foundation in finance, accounting and other core Broad College courses, then dives into the specifics of real estate with courses in feasibility, appraisal and valuation; development, acquisition and disposition; and asset management.
Anhut describes hospitality real estate as “probably the most complex form of real estate ownership and management because it’s an operating business with an inventory that is 100% perishable every day,” he said. “My grandfather was fond of saying, ‘There is nothing as worthless as last night’s vacant hotel room or empty restaurant seat.’” The coursework within this program provides students with the background to be successful in the complex and dynamic real estate industry.
He also described a key pillar of the minor, and of The School of Hospitality Business overall, as the dedication to providing networking opportunities for its students outside of the classroom. Anhut explained that although this is not a requirement for the REIM minor, there are numerous opportunities for students to attend industry conferences where they can participate in sessions, meet industry professionals and reinforce what they are learning. “That networking is invaluable for those students, not just for career job opportunities but also from the perspective of gaining confidence and learning,” he said.
Anhut considers the REIM minor to have immense potential for growth. He plans to expand the rigor of the coursework and increase program participation. “Learning and understanding hospitality business real estate is a solid grounding for any and all people who intend to practice a profession within the real estate industry,” he said.