JPM: Don, what’s the significance to membership of a rare
two-year leadership term?
DON WILKERSON: We have the opportunity, especially with
our international partners, to get a second bite of the apple, so to
speak, to revisit and review some of the issues of both the international chapters and at home, and bring solutions to fruition.
JPM: Cheryl and Chip, you’ll get your turns at bat. How do
the initiatives shaping up under Don’s leadership inform your
understanding and vision of service to the Institute?
>> CHERYL GRAY: There really isn’t a change. That’s the power
of how we collaborate as an officer team. To Don’s point, there’s
continuity and a strong alliance that actually started a number
of teams ago, and Don, Chip and I have embraced that. For me
it’s been helpful having consistency with Don being the leader
through both this year and next, so we get a chance to build a
relationship more strongly than when you’re rotating annually.
That said, leadership works very hard to create transparency,
whether the term is one or two years. So, while each president
may have a focus, there are core programs and initiatives that
may not get executed under one term, so we are all collaborating to ensure that those initiatives are supported going forward.
>> CHIP WATTS: Cheryl’s absolutely correct. Our collaboration
has always involved the entire officer team of that time period,
because we do share the same views and we take the time to sit
down with each other and talk about our focus and the initiatives of each of our presidential years.
>> WILKERSON: Cheryl and Chip used the term “officer
team.” We work together toward the same goal, to try to accomplish initiatives that do take a number of years. Historically, if
presidents ever had a need for a legacy, we’ve found that we’re
really more successful when we work together and everybody
understands the goals.
JPM: So despite the term of leadership, one or two years,
members sense more consistency?
>> WATTS: We would hope.
>> WILKERSON: One-year terms might seem more destabiliz-ing, but if we’re doing our jobs, if we’re providing meaningful
chapter services and meaningful content to our members, transition is seamless.
JPM: You all have very different backgrounds. Given that,
what do you see as the most important issues for property
>> WILKERSON: Our profession is challenged like many others in terms of recruiting young professionals and also by technology, which seems to be advancing almost daily rather than
year-to-year. Such challenges are really opportunities to get that
information to our members in a meaningful way.
>> GRAY: I agree. Aging demographics are impacting nearly
every industry, but in property management, it’s significant.
IREM has its biggest opportunity in engaging the next generation and helping young people develop their skills.
In terms of technology: it used to be location, location, location. Now it’s technology, and real estate, frankly, is a laggard in
terms of adoption. Unless you’re building new, state-of-the-art
assets, the built environment is what it is, and trying to position a building technologically means a refresh every few years.
That isn’t done with legacy systems. So how do we deploy technology and tools such as AI to make our people more efficient
and help them make better decisions?
There are two other issues that are of concern. First, people
are now starting to see real estate space as a service, aided by
such coworking providers as WeWork or Convene. Occupants
aren’t using space as passively as they once did. They want to
interact with their space and unlock more value, what MIT refers to as real estate fracking. And it falls to property managers
to figure that out.
The last issue is the climate and natural disasters—such as
the recent fires in California, British Columbia and Ontario—
which are apparently becoming the norm. The insurance industry is driving us to assess and mitigate such risks, and our
industry is getting its mind around such tools as risk mapping
of our properties. Nothing happens that we as property managers are not involved with, which brings up the issue of how our
teams are trained, educated and prepared.
—DON WILKERSON, CPM