“The changing face of commercial real estate,” a prominent focus of NAIOP Chairman Jean Kane, is much more than a buzzworthy theme. NAIOP is committed to advancing diversity so that it encompasses more than diverse individuals, but also includes a variety of perspectives and professions within our evolving industry. The association engages Developing Leaders (NAIOP members age 35 and under) to serve on its board of directors. Development magazine recently spoke with three women rising through the ranks of commercial real estate, all of whom are Developing Leaders serving on the 2014 NAIOP Board of Directors and making history of their own through hard work, resilience and giving back.
Ask anyone who’s ever served on a board of directors and they’ll tell you it’s a serious commitment and responsibility. Guiding organizations down strategic and financially lucrative paths involves more than attending quarterly meetings. For these young professionals, it’s all about giving back to a profession and industry that have helped them grow. How do they address the challenges ahead of them? In the same way that they face any other day at the office: full of large-scale objectives and strategies for practical implementation.
Recognizing diversity as a key to future growth, Sarah Segal, director at Informa Canada, is looking forward to focusing on NAIOP’s outreach efforts. A member of NAIOP Toronto, she’s taken an active role in developing the chapter’s educational programming. “Diversity of membership is important, and since education and networking can help facilitate diversity, those are core focus areas that resonate strongly with me.” Katie Barthmaier, executive director, Investment Department at W. P. Carey, Inc., and a member of NAIOP New York City, shares Segal’s interest in member education. “I’m looking forward to helping members better understand the financial tools and opportunities available to them so that they can strategically position themselves to access capital, navigate markets and overall better meet their particular needs.” Jaime Northam, vice president of business development, Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and a member of NAIOP Arizona, takes a bold, positive outlook on those markets. “Even on a global scale, identifying opportunistic markets is at the forefront of my goals” while serving on NAIOP’s board.
On Age and Experience
At more than 3,200 strong, NAIOP’s Developing Leader (DL) group is the association’s fastest-growing membership type. Having DLs serve on NAIOP’s corporate board “just makes sense,” according to Northam. “Those points of view can better serve the needs of this booming sector.”
Whether it’s efficiencies in technology or a global perspective from having worked in multiple countries or programs, Segal considers this group’s voice a crucial component of commercial real estate’s future, not just because of its size but also because of its depth. “Some professionals are just starting out, while others are running companies, big and small. The fact that young professionals are in different places in their careers brings distinct perspectives.” To Northam, those fresh ideas have power and can create quite an impact. “Developing Leaders provide a bridge between knowledge gained from senior executives and knowledge shared with younger professionals.”
All About Change
Since they are part of a generation that not only grew up with technology but also helped it evolve, it comes as no surprise that Barthmaier, Northam and Segal all continue to see technology as an agent of change in the coming years.
Given the inherent volatility of the financial markets, Barthmaier expects the sources and types of capital used by commercial real estate to change over the next 10 years, though she anticipates “the trend of corporations unlocking capital in their real assets will continue.”
Segal forecasts that climate change will play a significant role in how the industry changes over the next 10 years. Citing steps already taken, she predicts commercial real estate will take a “proactive look at what can be done from construction and investment perspectives” and perhaps will “adjust values on properties that can mitigate extreme situations better than others.”
Working within that physical environment should become somewhat easier for commuters during the next 10 years, notes Northam, who views improvements to transportation infrastructure — and, more specifically, transit-oriented development — in many suburban markets as a driving change.