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The Top Three Things the International Real Estate Community are Talking About

by Suzanne Licata

What do improv, Excel spreadsheets and workplace violence have in common? These were just a few of the nearly 20 hours of education sessions presented at the 2019 IREM Global Summit in San Francisco. Curry’s Mike Long, senior vice president, currently serves on the organization’s International Membership and Credentialing committee and attended the event.

With more than 20,000 members from across the globe, IREM has its finger on the pulse of the real estate industry across all property types. The annual conference is an opportunity for members to check that pulse and dig deep into the sector’s most pressing issues.

“IREM is an international community of professionals and Kansas City has a very strong chapter,” said Long, who has been a Kansas City IREM board member for eight years and served as chapter president in 2014. “The local chapter is a great resource for our business and is an active group, particularly in challenging and developing legislation that affects our company.”

Long said the meeting was content rich but several topics stood out as top-of-mind for the industry:

1.Technology is changing not only how you manage the business but, the business you have to manage.

James Scott is a leading researcher with the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab that looks into the intersection of real estate products, processes and data technologies and urban landscapes.

Scott addressed the implications of automation in the real estate sector:

  • How buildings are constructed – automating the trades like brick laying, the growth of 3D printed construction
  • The way we use buildings – everything from the emergence of smart buildings to rethinking the use of parking structures
  • Who is using them – what jobs are the survivors and which are headed for the dust bin

“This session brought to the forefront issues we need to integrate into our long-term business planning,” said Long. “For our owned assets and those we manage for others, what we must do to anticipate the rapidly changing commercial real estate uses and norms as well as the increasingly tech-driven preferences influencing consumer choice in multi-family.”

2. The engaged employee – new standards for performance and profit

Dr. Debbie Phillips has been named CPM of the Year by IREM (2015), received the Outstanding Educator Award from the National Apartment Association (2013)  and was named one of the top 75 professional women changing the face of real estate by IREM (2013).

Dr. Phillips spoke to the difference between satisfied employees – who like their work, and engaged employees – who love their company and that a primary distinction of the engaged employee is the discretionary effort he or she demonstrates to move the needle forward in performance and profits.

“Dr. Phillips showed that it requires a focus on both your own and your team’s strengths to produce the best result for your clients,” said Long. “To cultivate engagement among your team you have to recognize that strengths are a combination of what they are good at and what completes them. If you understand those two things about each employee and hire or develop them for a bigger role, they will not only grow into that role but grow your business in so doing.”

3. Relationships as drivers in managing your digital presence

Erik Qualman, aka Equalman, is a digital thought leader. He is the author of five books, consultant of choice to organizations from NASA to Google and frequent subject matter expert quoted in media from 60 Minutes to the Wall Street Journal.

Qualman talked about stepping in to becoming digital leaders by being intentional about your digital presence, or footprint – what you are saying digitally, and understanding what others are saying about you digitally, or your digital shadow.

“Qualman’s point was that digital transformation, at its core, is all about relationships,” said Long. “So the work is not just to understand and enhance our own image that we are projecting online but to work with our owners, tenants and vendors to help build, manage and support their digital presence.”

You would expect a global real estate summit would be all about trends and predictions but, for the most part, the topic was people – managing, supporting, advancing and people processes and performance. No matter the era or state of the industry, it has, is and always will be dependent on a well-equipped team to move the business forward.


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