At Closing - Developing Leaders: The Future of Our Industry

Summer 2012
Bill Hunt

During my travels to our chapters, I’ve noticed an exciting trend with the continued growth of our Developing Leaders. NAIOP launched the Developing Leaders (DLs) program in 2005 for members aged 35 and under. Now, after only six years, nearly one-third of all new members are DLs.

This initiative has helped strengthen our chapters by allowing NAIOP to connect with this young generation of leaders and integrate them into each of our chapters. DL members have already become chapter presidents and board members, bringing fresh ideas and outlooks to the industry and NAIOP’s mission.

At February’s Chapter Leadership & Legislative Retreat (CLLR), we honored three particular chapters for their exemplary DL-focused programs. I wanted to share a little about each of these programs with you to highlight the terrific work being done by our chapters and perhaps spark ideas on how your chapter can also support this important NAIOP initiative.

NAIOP New York City has the advantage of attracting some of the best and brightest real estate professionals in the nation’s largest city. Winner of the small chapter category at CLLR, the New York City chapter embarked on an ambitious DL-centered program built on what they call the “three pillars” of NAIOP: networking, education and advocacy.

The chapter launched an Executive Speaker Series that creates an intimate environment for DLs to hear directly from C-suite executives from real estate, capital markets and law firms. The DLs secured a private tour of the World Trade Center site with developer Silverstein Properties. It was so well received that, due to overwhelming demand, the event was opened to the entire chapter. Intermixed in the education were creative networking events to help DLs connect and relax at bowling outings and mixers at popular restaurants.

Nearly half of this chapter’s entire membership is comprised of DLs, and many play active roles in the chapter’s leadership. New York City has concentrated efforts to continue to build its membership with the goal of engaging young professionals now and retaining them as life-long members of NAIOP.

NAIOP Maryland’s Developing Leaders program operates under the goal of injecting fresh ideas and unbridled energy into the chapter – what they see as essential ingredients to maintaining the chapter’s vitality. The chapter won the Developing Leaders award for the medium chapter category at CLLR.

The chapter’s Developing Leaders Committee brings together 10 DLs who meet regularly and develop programs, setting the stage for these professionals to eventually take on greater leadership roles within the chapter. Maryland has also introduced a speaker series that brings well-known local developers before the DLs, and they spearhead fun social events like crab feasts and outings to local sports events.

The Maryland Chapter’s DLs don’t limit themselves to just their specific programs, but have made efforts to integrate in full-chapter community service, education and social events – laying their foundation for their future in NAIOP.

NAIOP Georgia, winner of the large chapter category award at CLLR, was among the first chapters to institute a DL program. Georgia’s exclusive program for a selected group of DLs -- called NAIOP Future Leaders -- took on the challenge last year of planning for the future of the chapter’s board of directors and continuing to meet the needs of the chapter’s young professionals. They launched their research efforts by interviewing individual members and surveying the chapter on program and mentoring needs. What followed was a strategy and plan that has guided the chapter’s DL efforts since.

Innovative education programs were a special focus of the strategy, with Georgia hosting an exclusive two-day market trip to Charleston, S.C., where DLs visited industrial and office properties, met with regional developers and bonded with their peers. The chapter continued its long-standing tradition of DLs enjoying private meet-and-greets with keynote speakers following a full-chapter program. They introduced a new program focusing on commercial real estate healthcare industry trends -- one of the most significant opportunities in the industry today.

Communications was a front-seat priority and the DLs launched an aggressive social media strategy that created a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn.

I congratulate these three chapters -- and all NAIOP chapters with active, engaged Developing Leaders -- for their commitment to ensuring that this generation of commercial real estate leaders becomes involved in NAIOP at a young point in their careers.

Outside of the chapters, NAIOP’s National Forums created a new DL experience that keeps a cohort of DLs together for a two-year program, focused on both professional and industry development. The group of 22 – with a significant majority of Principal members – meets in person twice per year to share experiences, hear from industry experts and develop relationships that they’ll continue as they transition into other senior-level Forums. The inaugural group met last fall at the Development ‘11 Conference, and there is already demand for launching a second one for 2013.

In closing, I encourage each of our members and chapters to help strengthen your own DL program by volunteering your time, efforts and expertise. Our DLs are not just the future of NAIOP, but also of our industry.