Perspectives

Developing Leader Views Education, Volunteerism as Keys to Expanding Diversity in Commercial Real Estate

Megan Creecy-Herman, the youngest person ever elected to serve on the Board of Directors of NAIOP’s Arizona chapter, will celebrate another distinction this January, when she becomes the first woman to serve as chairperson of the Arizona Chapter. As director of leasing and development for Liberty Property Trust’s Arizona region, Creecy-Herman is responsible for the firm’s portfolio leasing, development, and acquisition activities for 2.7 million square feet of office and industrial space in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe, and Tolleson. When she’s not busy growing business opportunities for Liberty, she’s helping other young professionals grow their careers through NAIOP Arizona’s Developing Leaders program. Creecy-Herman recently chatted with Development magazine about diversity in commercial real estate (CRE) and how she views the industry evolving for the next generation of young professionals.

Development: How did you first become interested in commercial real estate?

Creecy-Herman: My family has been in the construction industry in northern California for several generations. I moved to Arizona to pursue my undergraduate degree at Arizona State, specifically for its acclaimed business school and commercial real estate program. Upon graduating in 2003, I was recruited by a regional developer and have remained in the Phoenix commercial real estate market ever since.

Development: What are some challenges you’ve encountered throughout your career in commercial real estate?

Creecy-Herman: There have been times in my career when being young seemed more of an obstacle than an advantage. I think that’s common in any industry and not something distinct to CRE. I’ve found the best way to overcome obstacles is to continue striving to exhibit high levels of professionalism.

Development: How can the industry become more diverse or improve its current approach?

Creecy-Herman: Education is key. In recent years, many NAIOP chapters have established relationships with local universities. Our ability to reach college students who have yet to select a career path plays a major role in our broader efforts to create a more diverse and dynamic industry.

Development: What is one of the ongoing challenges that the industry faces?

Creecy-Herman: The greater population does not know much about commercial real estate. Most kids grow up wanting to be doctors, lawyers, or teachers. This is one of the reasons it’s critical for us — through groups like NAIOP — to educate more people about the positive impact our industry has on the communities in which we live and do business.

Development: What is your proudest career accomplishment?

Creecy-Herman: I’ve been fortunate to have several, but receiving my Master of Business Administration from the University of Arizona ranks at the top. Between graduate school, working full time, and serving in leadership roles with NAIOP and local community organizations simultaneously, the relationships and education I gained throughout the process are invaluable.

Development: What advice can you give to young professionals interested in building careers in commercial real estate?

Creecy-Herman: The old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” remains applicable today, but I believe both are equally important. Our industry is constantly evolving, and it’s important to remember that there’s always more to learn. Get involved, become active in the industry, and don’t be afraid to take on leadership roles. People will notice!

Development: What are your goals for NAIOP’s Arizona chapter?

Creecy-Herman: NAIOP Arizona is currently the sixth-largest chapter, and we put on more than 40 events each year. I’d like to continue our chapter’s prominence as the largest and premier real estate organization in Arizona.

From the Archives: Perspectives Articles from the Previous Issue

Steve Crosby

CEO on Leadership: Stephen A. Crosby, President, CSX Real Property, Inc. 

Stephen A. Crosby has served as President, CSX Real Property since 2000, responsible for sales, leasing and development of surplus CSX properties. He also oversees acquisition of property for industrial development, licensing of rail corridor use for utilities, pipelines or telecommunication transmission lines and numerous other property-related responsibilities.

Gene Reilly

Future Space Demand, User Behavior and the Psychology of Real Estate 

Real estate is shifting from a founder-based to successor-based business, with 60 percent of today’s CEOs gone by 2020 and 30 percent fewer practicing firms. This is just one of the intriguing facts shared by Chris Lee, CEO of CEL & Associates, Inc. at the recent National Forums Symposium.