Meet a Governor: Alan Kahn

Alan Kahn

Alan Kahn, President
Kahn Development

Why did you decide to become a Research Foundation Governor?

I learned about the Governors from Douglas Howe, a past NAIOP chair who was also very active with the Research Foundation Governors. What particularly appealed to me was having a voice in the research that is being performed on subjects of interest to our profession. Most other organizations aren’t conducting this high level of research. I enjoy being involved in the process that studies and identifies significant trends in the industry and being able to take away knowledge that helps me do my own job better. Beyond the research itself, joining introduced me to a great group of Governors and members of the Industry Trends Task Force. We meet to discuss and consider research projects, and there’s an added benefit of getting to know so many interesting people.

What is the role of the Research Foundation?

The Foundation provides a way to participate in truly making our industry better through providing knowledge and research to all, helping invite young leaders to join NAIOP, and enabling all of those affiliated with the Foundation to meet industry peers and share information. The people I’ve met through the Foundation and my National Forum have allowed me to build relationships with talented people who are active in many real estate activities. Our conversations are confidential and candid, and it is one of the few places in which we can share experience and knowledge without fear of its being used against us by others. Working with the Foundation as well as the National Forums program has allowed me to gain a broader point of view of the industry and to learn from the sharing of information on project tours and our discussions.

What's your outlook for the industry?

It’s hard to say what’s coming, because we couldn’t have predicted where we’d be today with the war in Ukraine, supply shortages, an overstimulated economy, and escalating inflation. As the Fed unwinds its balance sheet and raises its discount rate, we will see a slowdown, but the strength of the economy should carry us through the slowdown, howsoever deep or prolonged it may be. Inflation will likely remain high for another year or longer. Most forecasters believe we may return to growth after 2023 or earlier.

What professional advice would you offer to those just starting out in the industry?

To young people entering this industry, it could seem that a lot of real estate institutions are very corporate-minded, and it might appear that it would be hard to succeed because no one really is interested in you. I believe that the opposite is potentially true. This is a people-to-people business, and the ability to form relationships is a key attribute to succeeding. Of course, it’s important and very necessary to have technical expertise and be competent in business, but these are not alone sufficient. In our business, we must know how to communicate, understand what makes people tick, and build relationships. We are all selling ourselves and our company and its projects no matter where we are in our careers.