Alumni Profile: Deniz Yegenaga '06
By: Tayla Lee Van Rooyen ’20
When Deniz Yegenaga entered the hotel school in 2002, her plan was to explore the diverse courses that the school offers and potentially pursue a career in design, architecture or culinary. However, when Deniz graduated in 2006, she obtained a Real Estate Concentration and soon she was set on a career path of real estate in New York City. In 2007, she moved to London and started her eight year career with Moody’s Investors Service where she rated commercial mortgage backed securities in the US and Europe.
Today, Deniz still resides in London, where she is close to her homeland and family in Turkey. Her position at BlackRock as a credit research analyst in their Asset Backed Securities team within fixed income investments includes forming investment recommendations on investment grade real estate corporations in Europe. She will be working at the level of Director following her recent promotion.
“I really only became interested in Real Estate in my junior year at the Hotel School,” Deniz said. “I worked at the Statler and my first two internships were in operations. It was really the course work that drew my attention towards finance and real estate.” Although Deniz began her journey at the Hotel School as an operations hotelie, she appreciated the Hotel School’s diverse core curriculum. “I saw that every course from HR, to Development, to Culinary was giving us freedom to choose what we liked but in a structured way,” she said, “The degree really allowed me to experience different parts of the industry but stay on track to graduate.”
As Deniz explored the course options of finance and real estate, she found herself taking Professor Quan’s Hospitality Real Estate course and credits Professor Quan with introducing her to the “real” world of finance and real estate. She states, “Professor Quan’s class is definitely the course that I enjoyed the most. The case studies are really close to real life finance and real estate experiences and I can still remember Professor Quan taking us to New York and introducing us to different banks. It was quite impactful and made the degree and class feel very real.”
Deniz’s advice to others is to try and work in different locations around the world. She emphasizes the importance of gaining a global perspective in the finance and real estate industry. “Every market has different customs and practices and it makes life much more interesting and you learn a lot more about not only the countries market that you are in, but yourself as well.”
Most importantly, Deniz emphasizes that it is never too late to make the change in your career. “I started in operations and I am thankful for that experience but I only love what I do now because I was courageous enough to realize that it wasn’t too late to get involved in real estate and finance as an upperclassman. I did not have a Wall Street internship my junior year but I took a finance internship with a Four Seasons Hotel and I made it work. I still made it to where I wanted to be regardless of the situation and you can too as long as you put your mind to it.”