Are You Smart About Your Education?

Are You Smart About Your Education?

The faster you drive, the quicker your reflexes have to be and the more alert you have to be. And even with that extra care, the risk of missing something, the risk of a crash, escalates. So it is with the necessity of real estate practitioners in all areas of discipline to keep up with their education.

The fact is that the pace of change we’re all experiencing, whether it is social, cultural, generational, technological, political or economic—and it is all of these things—is accelerating. In this breakneck environment, it is all the more important to keep our knowledge contemporary.

I contend that this mandate matters more today than it did even 25 years ago, not only because life was slower back then, but also because we are standing on the cusp of change—a watershed in our culture and our practice.

First, we are at last shedding the cloak of recession and looking forward to a period of growth, potentially a strong and lasting one, but one in which demands on all of us as professionals and service providers will increase. Simultaneously, we are also in the midst of a very important generational shift, made all the more precipitous by the long-delayed retirement of the baby boomer generation.

As we experience a more vital economy, we’re going to see an acceleration of the transition from baby boomers to their successor generation of workers. And this new generation will bring a whole different set of practices and expectations to the workplace. In fact, as we’ve discussed in prior columns, we are already seeing the impact of Gen Y on how we define not only the workplace, but home as well. The future, as they say, is here.

But where are you? Practitioners in my view are craftspeople, and craftspeople need to keep their tools sharp or risk being unable to compete and unable to differentiate themselves unless it is in negative terms.

With the need for ongoing education established, where does one go to maintain a sharp and ready toolbox? There are four sources of continuing education for professionals who recognize the need to stay ahead or be swept behind: First, there is a growing selection of real estate programs, in investment, development, management, in virtually all specialties, at your local college and university. Wisely, they are recognizing a growing demand for real estate training and are meeting that market.

Then, of course, there are the industry groups, the verticals such as BOMA International, IFMA or ICSC. Philosophically, I hold IREM apart in that as a professional society we cut across all of the verticals to address professionals in the property management universe as a whole. Whichever professional association path you choose, the training you can take away is vital and sound and, most important, contemporary.

It should be noted here that all of these industry groups, horizontal and vertical, offer conferences at which knowledge flows freely. They are so much more than cocktail parties. If you don’t participate and sup at their table of the knowledge these venues set, you’re going to miss out on how your competitors are evolving their practices in response to the market and you will become antiquated, a legacy service provider.

The fourth choice is the training you might receive from your employer. This can be tricky if there is no premium put on training and keeping up with the dynamics of this fast-changing marketplace and no awareness on the part of the employer that knowledge, like a new car, depreciates as soon as it is driven off the lot. All knowledge is not created equal.

From a career standpoint, if you are not continually seeking more education, you are devaluing all that you are putting into your career. The core of all of this is the understanding that change in today’s business environment has to be continual.

If you stop to catch your breath or you stop because you are tired of going to classes or you simply like the way you’re doing things, good for you. You’re headed for extinction.

Joseph Greenblatt, CPM, is the 2014 president of the Institute of Real Estate Management. He is also president and CEO of Sunrise Management in San Diego, responsible for directing the day-to-day operations of the company, its portfolio of more than 12,000 residential units, and its 350 employees officed in San Diego and Sacramento, CA; Tempe AZ; and Las Vegas, NV.

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