Gregory Eason, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School MBA Class of 2025
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Undergraduate Institution and Major: United States Naval Academy, Quantitative Economics
Pre-MBA Work Experience (role, company, years): Surface Warfare Officer, U.S. Navy; Real Estate Development Manager Southeast Capital Companies; co-founder of Cascade Centennial LLC Faith Based Multifamily Real Estate Development
Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I desire to make an impact. Currently, my life’s mission is to help faith-based organizations, nonprofits and community stakeholders build communities of belonging on the land they currently own. Heading down this path, I realized that there was a large gap between the unique needs of these organizations and the capability and structure of traditional real estate development firms. I needed a blend of skillsets such as marketing, consulting, and financial analysis to effectively complete my life’s mission, and an MBA offered me that opportunity.
Why did you choose UNC Kenan-Flagler? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
One truly doesn’t need to think hard about reasons to attend UNC Kenan-Flagler. From the preeminent stock pitch competition, The Alpha Challenge, to our world-class alumni who pour back into the institution, such as the Royal Caribbean CEO and UNC Kenan-Flagler alum Jason Liberty, who sponsored a case competition for us during our first module, the business school is a magical place.
Notwithstanding the reasons above, UNC Kenan-Flagler does a great job of creating a “community of belonging.” I was captivated by the faculty’s, students’ and alumni’s genuine interest in me and my future. Put simply, our backgrounds are appreciated, and our future endeavors are supported. For instance, I expressed in my application that I was interested in real estate and finance, and soon after I applied to UNC Kenan-Flagler, I was placed in contact with the director of the Wood Center for Real Estate Studies and the president of the Real Estate Club. I had great conversations with both of them, and upon meeting in person, they recalled the intricate details of our conversations, which affirmed their genuine care and that UNC Kenan-Flagler was the right place for me.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2025?
I think my most differentiating contribution is my experience at the intersection of residential housing and social impact. My life’s mission is to create communities of belonging on land owned by nonprofits and community stakeholders. I look forward to sharing with my classmates the challenges of merging the objectives of key stakeholders such as municipalities, nonprofit organizations and financial institutions. Hopefully, one day we can view social impact and profit-seeking not as mutually exclusive activities but as opportunities to let innovation and creativity take over and push the best solutions to the forefront.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I love watching reality TV dating shows, most recently “The Bachelorette” and “The Ultimatum.” I find that reality dating shows are, comically, great opportunities to see economic principles such as scarcity, opportunity cost, and trade-offs, in action on live TV. Needless to say, I’m happy Charity found true love on this season of “The Bachelorette.”
Post-MBA career interests:
Post-MBA, I will return to Atlanta, where I will continue furthering the mission of creating communities of belonging in partnership with churches, nonprofits, and community stakeholders. My company helps these institutions engage in profitable development projects while enhancing their community impact. I intend to use my MBA network, resources and the wealth of knowledge that I will have gained to assist a vast number of nonprofits in this space. By working in this niche sector of real estate development, I aim to strengthen communities while ensuring a consistent revenue stream for each institution. I can only hope that each institution will then grow, having an even greater impact on the communities they serve.
Even further down the line, I expect that the company will grow to develop divisions that will include real estate development, property management, and asset management. As the company expands into these different arenas, I plan to employ talented individuals from underrepresented demographics. Those individuals may even seek an MBA degree someday and I would be delighted to recommend them to UNC Kenan-Flagler for career advancement.
Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would talk to the students in the program to get a full understanding of all that UNC has to offer. Sometimes, from the outside looking in, it may be difficult to get a full grasp of what Kenan-Flagler has to offer. For example, when have about six different centers that offer career support and learning opportunities unique to each center that faculty or current students are best suited to elaborate on.
–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
The one thing I would have done differently is to visit Kenan-Flagler before applying. I almost chose another school that was a well-respected program but would not have been as advantageous for my career progression in real estate. Understanding the full offering of the program, beyond what you can read online, is one of the most undervalued steps one could take in choosing an MBA program.
–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
There is not a part in the process I would have skipped, because I had lessons learned during each step of my MBA pursuit, from GMAT prep to getting accepted.
What is your initial impression of the UNC Kenan-Flagler students/culture/community?
I had two experiences with the culture of Kenan-Flagler prior to starting the MBA program. My initial in-person interaction with the staff during the admitted students’ weekend was extremely inviting and warm. This same theme continued through our summer experience at The Consortium’s Orientation Program and helped give me the confidence to interview with a company I hadn’t considered and receive an internship offer prior to starting my MBA.
What is one thing you have learned about UNC Kenan-Flagler that has surprised you?
The most exciting thing I learned about Kenan-Flagler is the school’s expansion into a new building, Steven D. Bell Hall, which will double the size of our business school. Knowing that we are continuing to invest in our learning experience here at the business school makes me ecstatic.
What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m anxious about my ability to balance the challenging coursework with the new addition to my family. My wife and I had our first child a month before the start of orientation, which has been a big adjustment for us. However, the program has been supportive of my needs, and that has alleviated a lot of stress thus far.
What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m most excited about our club’s career treks. The Real Estate Club has planned visits to six markets, and these treks include networking with leaders of the firms and visits to active project sites.