>> WATTS: Workforce training is our biggest issue, especially as it relates to bringing new people into our industry. The
compression of time for a property manager is critical. You’re
always trying to get so many things done in the shortest time
possible. Technology can help, but there’s a lot of pressure in
this need-it-now society we serve. That’s the long-term issue.
How do we address those needs in a compressed time, especially if we don’t have a suitable number of trained people to
help in our industry?
JPM: Which of course speaks to the visibility of the industry
as a viable career path.
>> WATTS: It’s a very difficult message to get out. As such, one
of our initiatives is a collaboration with other organizations
to reach out to college and high school students to plant that
seed—that property management is a viable trade you may not
have thought about. Toward that end, we have an interactive
website we’ve collaborated on for high schoolers looking for a
real estate career ( careersbuildingcommunities.org). We have
to continue that education down through the secondary grade
JPM: Given the issues you’ve each enumerated, let’s talk about
the challenge facing you to serve a wildly diverse membership.
>> WILKERSON: The basic management fundamentals hold
true whether it’s a commercial or multifamily property, an airport or a bus station, and whether you’re national or regional.
You’re looking at a strong financial understanding and accurate
and credible accounting fundamentals. That’s a lot of what we
do. And no matter the property, it breaks down on all sides to
your ability to attract and service tenants.
>> GRAY: Certainly, there are some specialty aspects of operations, such as retail versus residential. Despite that, and whether you have one building or a hundred, you still have roofs to
maintain, windows to think about, emergency responses and
regulatory impacts to address. What’s unique and always attractive about IREM is that the education you need to operate
an asset, regardless of that asset’s use, is pretty much constant
because, as Don said, the fundamentals are the same.
>> WATTS: But there are certainly different types of membership we need to engage, so we need to be sensitive to avoid making one issue our sole focus. If, for instance, we overemphasize
Next-Gen, we might lose certain “more experienced” members
or those choosing property management as a second career
choice. Leadership is a matter of balance.
JPM: Cheryl, you’ll be our first non-U.S. president. What’s the
significance of that?
>> GRAY: The feedback I’ve had from both Canadian and U.S.
membership has been very positive. It sends the message that
IREM is really embracing its geographic diversity. It underscores our global view as we explore continued opportunities
for expansion—in current markets and the new markets we’re
engaging, such as Taiwan and South Africa. It took us a while to
get that representation in our officer team, but I’m sure I won’t
be the last.
I really believe it galvanizes global interest and puts aside any
perception of a U.S. bias. We’ve made great headway in looking
at issues through a global lens and speaking to all membership
inclusively. It shows members outside the U.S. that we embrace
>> WILKERSON: When IREM was founded 85 years ago, the
main emphasis was on ethics and education, and these are the
core values we’ve built upon. We’ve found over the years that
these concepts are universal. That’s why we’re catching a lot
of traction, especially in the Far East, in Japan and Korea. As
word spreads, we’re finding people around the world who are
interested in our model.
JPM: We talked about Next-Gen, which of course is linked di-
rectly to diversity. Let’s talk about IREM’s diversity initiatives.
>> WILKERSON: There’s progress, but it’s still a goal, something
we need to reach. We’re relatively diverse, although we can do
much better, no question. Happily, I look at next year’s executive committee, and it’s 50 percent men and 50 percent women,
with different ethnicities represented. But it’s important to note
IS A VIABLE
—CHIP WATTS, CPM, CCIM