Jean Kane Talks About the Industry's Enthusiam in 2014

Fall 2014
Jean Kane

It’s hard to believe that we’re already three-quarters of the way through 2014. The achievements and growth I’ve seen throughout my travels for NAIOP are astounding, from members’ business successes to incredible chapter events. The industry’s enthusiasm in 2014 is truly infectious, and can be seen everywhere from senior members to Developing Leaders. Not only is time flying, but so is the pace of our industry.

Since “back-to-school” time is one of the major fall rites of passage, I’d like to take this opportunity to address the diversity that is rising organically as students and Developing Leaders (DLs) become more active in NAIOP and our industry. In my travels around the country, I’ve discussed the importance of recognizing and embracing diversity in commercial real estate. This becomes even more critical when we take a look at the people who universities are recruiting. At Harvard, for example, 39 percent of the students in the MBA program are female, 34 percent come from outside the U.S. and 23 percent are minorities. The statistics are similar at Stanford and Columbia. This is a drastic change from the demographics of these MBA programs 20, 10 or even five years ago.

What does this mean for those of us in the commercial real estate industry? It means we need to be prepared for this new generation to enter, and soon dominate, the workforce. According to CEL & Associates, around 60 percent of current CEOs are expected to retire by 2020. During that same time frame, the millennial generation will prevail, becoming more than 50 percent of the workforce. Not only will they be the leading employee demographic, but they’ll replace baby boomers as the primary decision makers.

We’re in for a major leadership and demographics shift, and we need to start getting ready for it.

Last year, NAIOP surveyed its members as part of the strategic plan process to gain perspective on issues that are important to them. One of the takeaways from the results is that virtually every segment of NAIOP sees diversity as an opportunity for both NAIOP and commercial real estate, and our members would like to see us expand our efforts to address this opportunity.

I believe that diversity isn’t about meeting quotas. It’s about building an industry that’s full of different perspectives and experiences that culminate in providing the best level of service to our clients.

While we’ve made huge progress in the past decade with regard to diversity, minorities are still under represented across the board. In fact, NAIOP is still 80 percent male and 92 percent Caucasian. One of the strategic plan’s primary goals is looking at how NAIOP can continue to engage the next generation, which is organically more diverse.

We’ve made a lot of advances through our DL program, and it’s exciting to see new voices represented, both within our NAIOP chapters and in boardrooms across the country. What else can we do, not only to recruit and hire this new talent, but also to translate our experience in commercial real estate into concepts that this powerful new generation will understand and embrace?

One way that NAIOP is engaging young professionals is through new delivery methods for its popular online courses. Two online courses are now offered in an on-demand format. You can take “Basic Real Estate Finance” and “Leasing, Marketing and Negotiation” on your own schedule, combining access to great content with the flexibility of accessing course modules at your convenience.

It’s “back-to-school” time for all NAIOP members. We must not only learn how to stay relevant for this changing workforce, but must also act as mentors to our DLs and help them gain expertise through our experience. By working together and learning from each other, we can be ready for whatever demands the future brings.  

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