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Calling all Terry (Georgia) Applicants: (2016 Intake) Class of 2018!!

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Internship Snapshots: Cody Hughes at Blackbaud  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Aug 2017, 07:01
FROM UGA Terry MBA Blog: Internship Snapshots: Cody Hughes at Blackbaud
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My Summer Internship with Blackbaud

This summer I had the unique opportunity to do a corporate real estate internship with Blackbaud. For those not familiar with Blackbaud, they are the world’s leading technology company in the nonprofit sector. Blackbaud offers a bevy of software, services, and expertise to nonprofits across the globe with the intention of empowering social good. The opportunity to work for a purpose-driven company while getting exposed to the different areas of real estate was too good to pass up. This summer I have been able to see the various pillars of real estate - property management, investments, and development - all the while getting to meet incredible people.

Property Management

At its core, Blackbaud is a tech company, which means that creating a modern, collaborative, and fun environment is crucial to the company’s success. Creating a “cool” environment is the goal of many companies today as they fight to attract the best talent. One way to achieve this is with furniture. My first project was to upgrade the offices in the building to new sit/stand desks because who wants to sit all day? As part of a “reshuffle” of over 500 employees, my task was to replace old office furniture with 100 new sit/stand desks. At first, I thought this would be a piece of cake, but I quickly learned that with so many moving parts (literally) and people, the devil really is in the details. I worked in tandem with our occupancy planner to see who was moving where, the furniture provider to coordinate the delivery/building of the desks, and with the mover to make sure the old furniture was removed and disposed of properly. In addition, I had to effectively communicate with the office occupants to make sure they were aware of the move and asked for their help in storing their personal items/ labeling the old furniture. All of this happened over a few short weeks, and to complicate matters further, the move itself was planned over a weekend to avoid business disruption. With a LOT of planning, trial and error, and communication, the office furniture upgrade was ultimately a success. For someone with a finance background, this project was new territory, but it made me step outside my comfort zone and gave me valuable project management experience.
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Cody, how's your internship going?

Investments

After the big move that seemed to take up everyone’s time and energy, I got to work on a project that was more up my alley. My next project was to analyze Blackbaud’s global real estate portfolio to see how effectively it was being used and where the company could save money. The company had 17 properties across the globe, but not all of these locations seemed to make business sense. I started this project by analyzing the number of employees and the major business units represented at each site. Next, I crunched employee badge data to see how frequently each location was being utilized. Finally, I worked with the finance team to develop a long-range model that measured the company’s future real estate expenses. Using all of this data, we were able to build a framework to analyze the entire real estate portfolio and determine Blackbaud’s future real estate footprint. After working with the CFO, we decided to pursue an aggressive real estate portfolio consolidation that would save the company $17 million per year. This project was fascinating and provided invaluable insight into how a corporation like Blackbaud views real estate. I learned that companies - and more specifically their workforce - no longer desire traditional office spaces like in decades past. Instead, companies today like Blackbaud want to leverage work-from-home/mobility solutions and co-working environments like WeWork in order to keep employees happy and reduce their real estate expenses. 

Development

One of the coolest things about this internship is that I got a firsthand look at the development side of real estate. Blackbaud is in the midst of building a new global headquarters in Charleston, and I feel fortunate to be involved with this process. Blackbaud’s goal is to create a modern, collaborative, and fun work environment for its employees. The fascinating thing with development is seeing how this workspace goal translates into the design and layout of the building. I got to see the extreme level of detail that goes into each decision, whether it is fabric design, color, material, etc. I was also amazed at the level of collaboration and communication necessary between all parties involved including the architects, builders, developers, and Blackbaud to get the headquarters built properly. While the new building won’t be completed until early 2018, it has been fun to see the progress made this summer, and I can’t wait to see the building once it’s done.

Volunteering

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Volunteering with the Lowcountry Food Bank
One of the most unique parts of my internship has been the company’s emphasis on volunteering with local nonprofits and learning how Blackbaud is integral to their success. I volunteered with my fellow interns at local nonprofits including Water Mission, the Lowcountry Food Bank, and the Ronald McDonald House. It was extremely rewarding to make a difference in the Charleston community and I am so glad that Blackbaud encourages volunteering. I also learned a lot about Blackbaud’s various software and services through these volunteer outings because these nonprofits told us how vital Blackbaud’s products were to their operations.

I took a risk this summer by not doing a “traditional” real estate internship, and it continues to pay off. I got great exposure into the world of real estate, got to work for a purpose-driven company, and met a ton of fabulous people in the process. That’s a win in my book.

Go Dawgs!

By Cody Hughes, Georgia MBA Candidate Class of 2018 and Blackbaud Real Estate Intern
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Internship Snapshots: Cody Hughes at Blackbaud   [#permalink] 01 Aug 2017, 07:01

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