Old vs. New Guard in CRE, Part 1
October 22, 2014

With Millennials taking their places as professionals in the commercial real estate industry, one wonders how they are working together with older, more experienced professionals. GlobeSt.com spoke with several industry experts about what each demographic group is learning from the other, including: Lanie Rea, director of research for Stan Johnson Co.; John Combs, principal at RiverRock Real Estate Group; Michael McLean, portfolio manager for PM Realty Group; Chris Pesek, Jones Lang LaSalle’s director of integrated facilities management; and David Endelman, managing director for Savills Studley’s strategic portfolio solutions team. In Part 2, to be posted at a later date, we continue the discussion with other executives.

GlobeSt.com: How does the “old guard” of professionals mesh with the “new guard”? What can each learn from the other?

McLean: We, as today’s young commercial real estate professionals, value the knowledge and experience of industry veterans and seek to work alongside them to achieve shared goals. A common phrase I hear in commercial real estate is “learning by doing,” and our more-experienced counterparts can share a wealth of knowledge to make the team more efficient. An important lesson young professionals should pick up from our older peers is to practice widely known social mores in a business environment, such as not checking emails or texting on your phone during meetings, timeless and eye-to-eye contact. Our older co-workers can learn to be more adaptable to change in an increasingly fast-paced and evolving environment.

Pesek: Inter-generational “meshing” is actually quite smooth once we dispel some common myths about Millennials. When Baby Boomers and GenXers realize that Millennials can be very serious, loyal workers, they become more open to learning greater confidence in tech from these digital natives. Of course, the more-mature generations have plenty to teach, too. Because most schools do not teach the ins and outs of CRE operations, Millennials can learn a great deal about the industry from seasoned colleagues who are encouraged organizationally to share their wisdom. The “old guard” can benefit greatly also from the fresh perspective of a young professional new to the industry; the innovation the C-suite is craving may come from Millennials not constrained by thoughts of, “That’s the way it’s always been done.” We are developing some surprising and exciting insights when we pair our new employees with seasoned pros on innovation initiatives and mentoring assignments.

Rea: “Both groups of professionals need to recognize the strengths that each brings to the table.”

Endelman: As young, tech-minded people enter the industry, they are introducing new tools for information exchange that are intended to create more transparency and efficiency in the market. From what I can tell, this hasn’t yet created the disruption that was hoped for. Even as some information has been commoditized, there is still inside knowledge that technology tools haven’t been able to access/capture. The old guard is especially protective of this, but many young people are, too, if they are currently profiting from the status quo.

Old vs. New Guard in CRE, Part 1

Related Stories

Law Firm Employment and Space Trends
Shifts Along Sixth Avenue