2014 Property Manager of the Year David Hopwood

David Hopwood, General Manager with JLL at 71 South Wacker, was the recipient of the 2014 Property Manager of the Year.

How did you get involved in the commercial real estate industry? Following graduation from the University of Illinois, I had turned down job offers in the banking industry, knowing instead I wanted to pursue a career in commercial real estate. I subleased an apartment for the summer and came to the Chicago CBD every day armed with a stack of resumes and a list of the biggest owners, developers and real estate service companies which I had copied from the Wall Street Journal. I went door to door to find a position and eventually landed a job as a leasing agent for a small office property, 11 East Adams, with a national public limited partnership syndicator.

Tell us about one of your recent accomplishments at your building. Not only was our building certified to LEED Platinum for the second time – maintaining the position of 71 South Wacker as the largest such multi-tenant office building in the world with this certification – we also recently achieved designation as a BOMA 360 Performance Building. It was a superfecta of sorts as we won the TOBY Earth, BOMA/Chicago and regionally, and became an IREM Certified Sustainable Property within a 12 month period.  These accomplishments are pretty impressive given that the property was neither built nor initially operated with a focus on sustainability.

Where do you see Chicago’s CRE industry heading in the years ahead? I see the Chicago CRE industry having to reinvent existing and deliver new properties that provide the kind of environment the workforce and their employers will demand. Our properties will become amenities rich, work-life balance settings complementing the principals of various sustainability initiatives with those that are much more personal and focused on well-being for the body, mind and spirit of the occupants. Think quinoa, yoga, meet-up special interest groups and relaxation spaces.      

What are some challenges you believe commercial building property managers will need to address in the years ahead? The three biggest challenges I see facing commercial building property managers are grouped as follows:

  • Tenant space: With densification a reality, how are services including HVAC, cleaning, and wireless connectivity consistently delivered to a modern use of office space with outdated infrastructure?
  • Common area space: What amenities are being demanded and how do those get delivered considering potential capital constraints and their effect on overall operating expenses?
  • Operating expenses: With the unfunded liabilities of our governments and what I expect to be substantial increases in utility costs, how best can increases in total recoverable operating expenses be kept in check?

Throughout your membership with BOMA/Chicago, what experiences stand out the most to you? My experiences working with the Labor Committee on the collective bargaining agreements have been fascinating. Not only in the process but also knowing the magnitude of the negotiations and agreements reached which will affect hundreds of building owners and thousands of employees and their families.

What is your favorite BOMA/Chicago event and why? My favorite BOMA/Chicago event has to be the Gold Circle Awards. From the spectacle of the event and venue, to the opportunity to see old friends along with the potential to be recognized by your peers make it a truly special night…plus Janet Davies!?!

What piece of advice would you share with our emerging leaders? Advice for emerging leaders? Think like an owner. The more you understand the goals and objectives of the owner the better you can prepare yourself and your team to execute on that strategy.

What are some of the CRE trends you’re seeing that interest you the most? I still find it very interesting the potential that technology holds for our industry. When I first started, there was one computer in the entire management office and a green bar dot matrix printer, single line desktop phone handsets and work orders that were logged using hand written carbon paper forms. (I will explain that to the emerging leaders later.) Although technology has definitely been added to make our lives easier, technological advances in commercial property management has seemingly lagged behind. Just Google it and you will see dozens of applications for residential management and only a single Yardi advertisement for the commercial industry.

What is your “pet peeve”? Major pet peeves for me include typographical and grammatical errors… and unpolished shoes. Now everyone is going to be looking at mine at the next event.

What would you like to do in your life that you haven’t done so far? I would like to secure professional pelota vasca status and compete internationally.