NAIOP Chairman Jean Kane Reflects on 2014

Winter 2014
Jean Kane

It’s hard to believe that 2014 has almost come to a close and we’re about to start a new year. I’ve had so many amazing experiences this year as NAIOP chairman, and I’m grateful to everyone who had a part in making this year one of my most memorable yet.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting with developers, owners, investors and many others, and I’ve seen firsthand the creativity and energy in projects spanning all sizes and shapes. These examples prove that our industry is innovative and healthy. As a reflection of our members, NAIOP is financially strong and forward thinking.

My focus this year has been on exploring the changing face of commercial real estate, and I’d like to close by sharing my thoughts regarding millennials, who will be a dominant factor in the workforce by 2016. While change is inevitable any time a new generation takes the forefront, it appears that this time around, things are changing more rapidly.

Mark Stapp, a professor at Arizona State University and a NAIOP Distinguished Fellow, spoke at our Development ‘14 conference about the influence millennials have on commercial development and the workplace. Stapp pointed out that while there isn’t necessarily going to be a major, wholesale shift, this generation views the economy as being more about experience than about transactions.

When it comes to working with millennials on their commercial real estate needs, we need to take a much broader approach. By looking at their business as a whole, we can help them solve problems they didn’t know they had and create a complete experience for them.

two people holding a gavel

Outgoing NAIOP Chairman Jean Kane passes the gavel to incoming Chairman Steve Martin, whose term begins on January 1, 2015.

As I’ve visited chapters, I’ve told a story about a walk-through that a Minneapolis broker conducted for a client — a walk-through that included all 150 employees. That’s quite a difference from the typical walk-through with an operations manager, CFO and, possibly, CEO, and I have a feeling it’s going to become more the rule than the exception. We must now appeal to a diverse customer base in order to provide our customers with the level of service that one would expect from NAIOP members.

I don’t want to make generalizations about millennials because, as we all know, each generation comes with its own wide variety of perspectives, values and experiences. Because we have so much more diversity in the workplace now, trying to pigeonhole the millennial group is not only patronizing, it’s also inaccurate.

Stapp said it best in a recent interview: “White, Caucasian, middle America is no longer the driving economic force. We are becoming increasingly multicultural, multiethnic, multi-race.” We need to look at the bigger picture, find the emerging trends and capitalize on them to succeed in our industry.

We also must bring that diversity into NAIOP. Our Developing Leaders membership is crucial in propelling NAIOP into the next decade, and it’s our responsibility to encourage diverse hiring practices, both within our own firms and throughout membership organizations. Bringing a variety of perspectives to our organization allows us to take new approaches to old issues and problems, preparing us for the future.

In closing, I would like to thank all of you for providing me with the opportunity to serve as your chairman. It has been an honor, a privilege and a phenomenal experience. I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to so many NAIOP members across North America who were so kind and welcoming. I also want to thank the members of the Executive Committee who made this year so successful.

To the entire NAIOP staff: You are all rock stars! I am confident that under Steve Martin’s leadership in 2015, our organization will continue to grow and prosper, and I will forever consider myself lucky to have been a part of such a worthwhile organization.

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