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Emerging Leader Programs Encourage Networking, Diversity


For people new to the world of commercial real estate, the industry can be daunting. Emerging leader programs can help these new hires navigate the waters. They learn valuable lessons from senior execs, while building their own networks. Here are three emerging leader programs that are making life easier for the youngest generation of CRE pros.

CBRE's Rising Professionals Organization (RPO)


The Rising Professionals Organization (RPO) “strives to develop leadership potential through training, networking and community involvement while contributing a fresh perspective to challenge and lead the industry.” After working with the internal organization Green Knight on various sustainability projects, RPO merged with the environmental group, adding nearly 100 new members and another alluring facet to the emerging leaders collective. Launched in November 2011, the organization has seen significant growth: there are currently over 860 members in 20 chapters in the US. CBRE is also in the process of rolling out RPO in other countries.

Elizabeth Lynch (front, second from right), an assistant real estate manager at 737 N Michigan, discovered RPO two years ago, after joining CBRE through its acquisition of US Equities. A senior director asked Elizabeth why she hadn’t seen her at a recent RPO event, as senior execs are very involved. After that conversation, Elizabeth joined, which has allowed her to meet with other professionals in different departments and get sound career advice. Associate Brian Butler considered forming a networking group upon joining CBRE last year, before discovering RPO. He says his involvement in the group has made for a more collegial work environment. Brian also wanted to continue getting involved in philanthropic endeavors. Brian and Elizabeth co-chair RPO’s philanthropy committee and frequently attend RPO events—a commitment that hasn’t gone unnoticed by senior execs and fellow members. Brian says if the leaders aren’t there, you can’t expect others to attend.

BOMA/Chicago Diversity Program


Public service is important to Ollie Group principal Reggie Ollie, and he thought Chicago’s commercial real estate community would be more diverse than in St. Louis, where his career started. Instead, he discovered that a similar lack of diversity existed throughout the industry, and set out to be part of the solution. In 1994, Reggie made a presentation to the BOMA/Chicago board, which formed a task force and standing committee to address diversity within the industry; it’s the only BOMA diversity program in the country.


BOMA/Chicago later established a scholarship program in Reggie’s name, which covers the full tuition cost for RPA designation for the awardees and complements the organization’s existing emerging leaders program. Scholarship recipients also get a high-profile industry mentor and are added to BOMA/Chicago’s diversity committee. One of this year’s winners, JLL assistant GM Dominique Garrett-Flowers (front, with this year's other winner, Sterling Bay manager Ebony Andry), says it was noticeable commercial real estate wasn’t diverse when she entered the industry, but her co-workers at JLL made her feel like part of the family. That sense of inclusion, Dominique says, is extremely important when attracting diverse candidates.

Reggie believes the future is bright for diversity within the industry. He says Millennials, with support from today’s senior commercial real estate leaders, understand the importance and are leading the charge.

REIA Emerging Leaders


Open to any real estate professional under age 32, REIA's Emerging Leaders helps young professionals develop their real estate careers and build relationships within the industry. The program offers a number of informative programs and opportunities to interact with peers and more experienced professionals through the greater REIA organization.

Kevin Fronckiel (center), an analyst with Continuum Capital Funding, heard about the program while he was a member of DePaul University's real estate club, joined and became very active in recruiting new members. He says 140 people attended REIA's Emerging Leaders February event, which featured breakout sessions in multifamily, healthcare real estate, retail, real estate tech and real estate finance. Each of these panels operated in three sessions, giving attendees the opportunity to explore a few topics of their choice. Kevin says the program is geared more for finance pros than brokers, but anyone with a passion for the industry is welcome.