IREM Blogs

Investors Call Out CRE for Its Talent Deficit

April 01, 2019 | John Salustri

Deloitte has come out with its annual Commercial Real Estate Outlook, and when it comes to transitioning for future success, especially as that pertains to new talent, the news isn’t too good.

As IREM President Don Wilkerson, CPM, points out in his latest column for NREI, the majority of some 500 global investors polled for the report make it clear “that an aggressive and often policy-shifting attack on the issue of executive recruitment is called for.”

Granted, Wilkerson points out, the poll provides a generalized view of CRE as a whole, without breaking out specific areas of focus, such as property management.

Nevertheless, there are points to consider, such as the statement in the report that “Next-generation talent, both Millennials and Gen Z, appear to prefer working in a startup culture. The industry, meanwhile, seems unprepared to recruit, engage and retain this talent pool—93 percent of pension funds and 95 percent of hedge fund investors believe so. As a result, many CRE companies continue to face a scarcity of skilled talent.”

But, writes, Wilkerson, that doesn’t mean that only startups need apply.  Instead: “You need to think like one. But what does that mean? Deloitte lays out some clues.” Those clues start with technology.

“First comes the young-talent view of technology,” he continues. “As you know, our industry is in a transition stage where such developments as artificial intelligence (AI) are refining and redefining roles, relieving us of the more redundant tasks so we can focus on higher-order strategizing.” Awareness and acceptance here is critical.

Tech can also aid in the hiring process itself. Quoting the report, IREM’s president writes that “AI and predictive analytics can be used for résumé screening and to spot turnover risks, respectively.

“That turnover portion is key,” Wilkerson points out. “Best practices dictate that we should be hiring for longevity and succession, rather than simply to fill an open seat.

“Then there’s the question of diversity,” he says, pointing out that “the IREM community is better represented than most disciplines in terms of women in positions of leadership. Nevertheless, more can be done.”

Again, he quotes from Deloitte: “Senior leadership teams and boards should also include a fair and more even representation of women, minorities and the LGBT community. Investors—particularly 92 percent of the respondents who were large investors with more than $30 billion in assets under management—believe that a more diversified board helps generate better returns.”

That inclusion is more than simply window-dressing, and Wilkerson says that the above mentioned returns “come in large part from a greater diversity of thought. The ability to attack a problem or shape a business strategy from a variety of viewpoints and experiences pays off. It’s that simple. Toward that end, the report suggests mentorship programs designed to groom women and minorities for leadership roles.”

Indeed, IREM has been very active in addressing the community’s talent issue, Wilkerson says. “We’re proud of the work that is being done by our Diversity & Inclusion Succession Initiative as well as by our Student and Academic Outreach Advisory Board. But as always, more can be done, at both the national and the local levels.

“Pardon the hackneyed phrase,” he concludes, “but I’ve seen the future and it’s now. And now is the time to rethink your approach to human resources to meet that future. Head on.”

To read the complete article, please click here.

About the author
John Salustri is editor-in-chief of Salustri Content Solutions, Inc., a consultancy focused on enhancing the web and print content of clients around the nation. He is a regular contributor to JPM Magazine and a frequent blogger for IREM. Prior to launching SCS, John was founding editor of, the industry’s premier real estate news website, where he managed the daily output of 25 international reporters, and prior to that, he was editor of Real Estate Forum Magazine. John is a four-time winner of the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ Award for Excellence in Journalism.


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