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7 Jobs CRE Hiring Managers Will Fight Over In 2022

The labor shortages and competition for talent playing out in commercial real estate have already created a pro-worker marketplace where bigger offers and benefits packages are becoming par for the course. Roughly 60% to 70% of hiring managers can’t meet their talent needs, especially around technology-focused roles and hot sectors like industrial and life sciences.

As the industry evolves due to the coronavirus pandemic, companies will also need to begin searching for new and emerging positions. Here are seven positions that commercial real estate analysts and experts have identified as being important, influential and invaluable in the coming year. 

A more digital and distributed CRE industry will look for new types of talent in 2022.

Head Of Remote/Hybrid Work

Why Now: The changing workplace and adoption of remote work won’t simply be limited to the clients and tenants of commercial real estate firms. Workplace consultant and former WeWork design director Liz Burow sees the need for such a role in any large organization looking to attract diverse, top-flight talent in a new marketplace. While many real estate job listings running this summer requested in-person work, a post-delta environment and the nature of hybrid and flexible schedules suggest any sizable firm may need someone overseeing and coordinating such a workplace shift.

What It Looks Like: Burow told Bisnow earlier this year that the mere existence of the position is a “wake-up call for organizations” to work across silos and make real estate, tech and HR decisions together. The role requires a bit of a jack-of-all-trades approach, with strong HR and tech skills and fluency in new, developing norms around remote work. Perhaps most importantly for CRE, developing their own plans and expertise in this area will only help them be better advisers to their clients. 

Life Sciences Brokers And Property Managers

Why Now: Stratospheric growth in mature markets such as Boston, San Diego and the Bay Area and a coterie of up-and-coming metros, has left the industry in high demand and short-handed when it comes to experienced professionals who can balance life sciences and real estate expertise. With so many firms looking to expand at the same time, the talent pipeline hasn’t caught up with the demand. 

What It Looks Like: Increasingly, hiring is coming from out of the traditional real estate world. Suzet McKinney, a Sterling Bay principal and its director of life sciences, told Bisnow the industry needs to look at a more diverse array of talent to fill much-needed gaps — she pointed to scientists and researchers who have spent time in administrative and leadership roles as key potential hires, as well as executives who have led innovation districts.

Suzet McKinney, Sterling Bay's director of life sciences

In-House Hospitality And Events Expert

Why Now: Think of this role as the other half of the remote work equation. With in-person events between colleagues becoming fewer and further between, yet more important in terms of building company culture and mentoring in-house talent, the pressure placed on them to be exceptional will only rise.

“As organizations realize the value of ‘in real life’ work is for building connections and culture, well-designed IRL events and 'run of shows' are becoming increasingly important,” Burow said. That means a new HR position more dedicated to building culture the old-fashioned way, but with higher stakes and perhaps more resources.

What It Looks Like: Burow described the role as like a wedding planner for a team and suggests some of the decisions made by such a position can be equally contentious. Planning events, including team milestones, off-sites, conferences, annual planning or product sprints, and especially onboarding of new staff, will require more expertise, especially around food, space rentals and tech over days and even weeks. Burow sees this position being filled by those with a similar background in retail, entertainment, hospitality and the existing events industry. 

Chief Technology Officer/IT Leader

Why Now: For many companies, the acquisition and adoption of new proptech solutions may be moving relatively slowly. But according to Tyler Kastelberg, the founder of Bullpen, an online marketplace for freelancers in real estate, the firms that have embraced tech have seen significant jumps in productivity.

“The [chief technology officer] role will become more relevant as leadership teams realize they need help seeing the landscape of what can be adopted in their business,” Kastelberg said. 

“A lot of CRE firms got punched in the face by the pandemic and work-from-home requirements,” CRE Recruiting principal and founder Allison Weiss said. Those who invested in automation, streamlining workflow and remote work have a competitive advantage due to increased productivity. It also means being able to recruit across the country versus their own backyard.

What It Looks Like: Spencer Burton, head of real estate investments for Denver-based Stablewood Properties, said tech roles are playing a larger role in the industry at large, and at his firm. Half the company’s senior team comes from non-real estate backgrounds in data and tech, meaning roles that aren’t in a traditional CRE org chart play a pivotal role. It means new roles, like data scientist and chief engineer, as well as a more efficient, streamlined and less siloed organization. 

Data Scientist

Why Now: Commercial real estate may be one of the industries with the most potential to gain from its own largely disorganized collection of data and metrics, Kastelberg said.

“Most companies still rely on Excel as a source of truth for critical information that is shared with investors and regulators,” he said. “However, version control issues and human error create a nightmare for big teams.”

Better data analysis means faster decision-making and more streamlined operations. And the potential for cybersecurity issues, especially with burgeoning proptech applications, means it is a good idea to professionalize and perfect data collection, security and distribution. 

What It Looks Like: These positions will run increasingly young, potentially with tech talent that expects tech industry-type benefits and remote work opportunities. Kastelberg said smart real estate companies will create data management teams where they hire data scientists to collect, organize, clean and own the company's data.  

ESG Manager

Why Now: Emissions reductions laws in New York City, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., are making more sustainable development imperative, and investors are starting to care more and more about how real estate sponsors' projects impact the environment and people. Pledges to be green and good need to be backed up by action.

“As organizations come to terms with their audacious net zero/decarbonization goals, they are going to need to figure out how to achieve them,” RE Tech Advisors President and founder Deb Cloutier said. “We are seeing every company hiring for an ESG manager/leader/analyst.”  

What Does It Look Like: Most organizations will hire consultants and subject matter experts, either in-house or outsourced, Cloutier said. In 2022, she said there will be greater demand for expertise in reporting, compliance, decarbonization strategies, fleet conversions and supply chain. 

Social Media And Digital Content Staff

Why Now: A hidebound industry that has long resisted change, CRE has finally begun to embrace tech. That includes social media and digital content creation, since clients and decision-makers are increasingly digitally native and much more fluent in memes, online influence and new means of outreach.

"Social/digital media and content are table stakes for our business moving forward, and I think you’ll begin to see the firms who invest here and understand this language pull ahead of the others,” CRE Recruiting’s Weiss said. “Tenants and landlords who are savvy in this space want forward-thinking partners who can add value here."

What Does It Look Like: Examples include Current Real Estate Advisors, a Manhattan brokerage that focuses on social media for promotion and research for its retail clientele. Another great example per Weiss is hellojenny, a firm co-founded by Carrie Bobb, which uses social media campaigns to help find tenants for retail space.

“They’re absolutely game-changers in how our industry is utilizing content strategy and social platforms, and they’re exploding with growth,” Weiss said.