PPE Alumnus Spotlight: Marc Hoppler

The Kellogg Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics is proud to feature Marc Hoppler, PPE Class of 2020, as he discusses his work experience post-graduation, career goals, and more. 

Marc, can you tell us about your academic history when you were a student at Virginia Tech?

I moved from Switzerland to the U.S. in 2016 where I initially attended Roanoke College for two years before transferring to Virginia Tech to continue my academic and athletic careers. Initially, I intended on pursuing a degree in business. However, this plan changed shortly after taking my first philosophy course, ‘Global Ethics’. The class was designed to challenge students to discuss, debate, and argue a position on difficult global moral and ethical topics. The structure of this course, and its emphasis on open dialogue, critical thinking, debate, and defending arguments compelled me to switch majors. I was drawn to the interdisciplinary curriculum of PPE, which combines philosophy, political science, and economics with critical thinking. Shortly after finding this major, I officially made the switch.

Overall, my academic experience at Virginia Tech was heavily influenced by being a student-athlete – having to manage my time appropriately in order to balance sports and academics. Despite the demands of being a student-athlete, I made time to attend PPE events that allowed me to apply class concepts to real-work debates. Two of the most profound events I attended were the PPE Distinguished Public Lecture on ‘Free Beer’ by Professor Dan Ariely, one of my favorite authors who wrote Predictably Irrational, and a lecture on “Are we morally obligated to restrict our carbon footprints?” by Dan Shahar.

After finishing my academic requirements to graduate with a PPE major, I decided to apply for the Washington Semester in Global Engagement (WSGE). This program gave me the opportunity to present my research project on how to create sustainable alumni networks to the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Simultaneously, I did a full-time internship with Novahill Advisors. It was the perfect way to top off my academic resume at Virginia Tech.

Tell us about your post-graduation work experience.

Upon graduation, I continued interning for Novahill Advisors, a boutique investment bank that works with start-ups. My work at Novahill specialized in the digital healthcare sector, but I also got exposure to the real estate industry and used blockchain technology to protect home deeds and titles to prevent property fraud and theft. My experience with blockchain technology in the real estate industry sparked my interest in pursuing a career in this field. After my internship, I accepted a full-time position with EastBanc, a multinational real estate development company specializing in the acquisition, redevelopment, and management of commercial real estate assets, particularly in the area of urban revitalization.

In addition to my full-time position with EastBanc, I started my Master’s degree in Real Estate Finance at Georgetown University to further bolster my commercial real estate knowledge, expand my network, and learn directly from successful real estate players. I have really enjoyed this program thus far as it allows students to work full-time during the day and complete all the courses at night. It also provides students with the flexibility to apply learned material immediately in their professional careers. 

Can you provide information about your application/acceptance process into your current position with EastBanc, and what kind of work you focus on under your current position?

Applying for jobs in 2020 was difficult for me, and many others, due to the COVID pandemic. However, I had the additional challenge of trying to find an employer who would sponsor my work visa, since I am a Swiss national. I found the most success by directly contacting the person in charge and asking for an introductory meeting, rather than applying to a specific role. This process helps you understand what the company’s needs are and where you could add value.  More importantly, however, it has the benefit of getting your foot into the door and making valuable connections.

In doing so, I was given the opportunity to be an Asset Management Analyst at EastBanc. In my role, I support our German partner in the management of large office and retail assets in the D.C., NYC, and Toronto markets. The role of an Asset Manager focuses most prominently on maximizing consistent revenue sources, minimizing expenditures, risk management, and achieving/surpassing investor expectations. To achieve these objectives, we are involved in and oversee all aspects of an asset lifecycle. One of our most recent approved projects involved the creation of a ~$5M amenity terrace on the 16th floor of an office building in NYC, where we were able to add value to the asset by activating the unusable mechanical floor space and therefore avoided giving up income-producing rentable square footage. In doing so, we increased tenant satisfaction, leasing competitiveness, and limited capital expenditures with a clear path for ‘return on investment’ in a timely manner.

Additionally, in my role as a graduate student, I am a new board member of the Georgetown Real Estate Alumni Association (GREAA) where we organize networking events for current and former students, in the form of happy hours, property tours, and panel discussions, to mention just a few. It was and is important for us to provide students the opportunity to interact with as many professionals as possible and to grow their network portfolio. During this process, we have collaborated with the Johns Hopkins Real Estate program and other different networking groups within the industry.

How did PPE help set you up for success?

PPE had a significant impact on my academic and professional careers, because it has trained me to approach challenging situations holistically. Often, we approach solving a problem or task by isolating it without taking into account all consequences, or without seeking to understand the history of the problem. PPE helped me to approach problems with a comprehensive perspective, and by first taking a step back when faced with a specific situation in order to make the best decision that considers all relevant, external factors. In summary, PPE teaches you how to think rather than what to think.

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