Skip to content

An Emerging Leader’s Industry Insights

By Kristine Sorenson, Real Estate Services Administrator at 100 N. Riverside Plaza and 2013-14 Emerging Leader of the Year

Did you know that women and minorities hold less than 1,000 of the commercial real estate industry’s nearly 14,000 senior executive positions nationwide? In the top-level positions, Hispanic men hold 400, Asian men hold 220 and black men hold 179. Female minority categories have the smallest executive representation, with only 140 posts (or 1%) holding a top position.

Although these numbers are a reality check, the industry is changing – just five years ago, less than 1% of an estimated 100,000 CRE professionals were minorities. And taking a look at the future of the workforce, young professionals estimate 27% of the 57 million workers employed in the professional workforce and from 2013 to 2014, young professionals belonging to a minority group grew from 26% to 31% with the majority of the workforce being female.

Knowing these facts, it’s an ideal time for young people to get involved and to take advantage of the opportunities that are available in the CRE profession.  Three years ago, I never would have imagined that I would be earning my RPA through BOMA/Chicago’s Ollie Scholarship, that I would be honored as the 2014 Emerging Leader of the Year or that I would Chair CBRE’s Asset Services Young Professional’s Organization.

Like many of us in this industry, I became a CRE professional by happenstance. Taking the time to learn about and take advantage of all of the resources, mentorships and opportunities out there is what allowed me to become a leader in my peer group. Now, I consider it my obligation to address the enormous importance of developing the young, diverse individuals in CRE so that we can continue to grow and become forerunners in this ever-changing industry.

So what is my advice to other young and underrepresented individuals in CRE? Here are three important things I have learned from my mentors and that I hope you will use to carve out your own successes:

Seek Support and Resources from Your Manager & Other Coworkers
Although it is very important to be self-motivated and driven, you also need experience and encouragement by a support system – whether it be your coworkers, manager and/or director. You are surrounded by the resources, knowledge and insights of other CRE professionals every day, so you should never miss the chance to tap into their expertise.

Be a Mentor to Others
Share knowledge, advice and resources to help develop a less experienced person’s professional and personal growth. This doesn’t have to include specific expectations or guidelines, but it’s about being a friend and looking out for someone’s best interest. Help create a safe learning environment for taking risks and where your peers can learn from both their mistakes and successes.

Encourage and Promote Your Team
Motivate your team; help them get ready for the next level. Find out what their passions are and then challenge them to get outside of their comfort zone. And don’t forget that everyone likes a little recognition every once in a while. These pats on the back once meant the world to you. Now it’s time to pay it forward.

By doing these few things, you will be encouraging retention and improving productivity as well as creating a culture with happy, highly-motivated young people who want to work toward a common goal. Those of us who are new to the industry are often so blind sighted by our day-to-day tasks that we often forget that we ourselves are assets to our company and the industry. Yes, the physical buildings we work in are often labeled as the” assets,” but the diverse backgrounds, skills and experiences that us young leaders possess are what will enhance the future value of both our buildings and our field.

What words of advice do you have for young and underrepresented individuals in CRE? Or what advice do you wish you would have received when you first entered the industry? Share your comments with us below.