How do the good become even better? If you ask Dennis Adams, senior vice president of Greenwood Village, CO-based Corum Real Estate Group Inc., he’s likely to respond, “They hit the books.”
Ten years ago, when a supervisor suggested that Adams pursue a Real Property Administrator (RPA) designation through the Arnold, MD-based Building Owners and Managers Institute (BOMI), moderate interest burgeoned into genuine enthusiasm as he explored the opportunity further. “Over the next several years, I started the RPA program and completed [it], as well as [pursued] a couple of other professional designations,” he says. “While all education is worthwhile, the RPA provided a foundation for me in my career to ... really move to the next level.”
At the time, Adams was working for another company and was pleased that his recent accomplishment gave him a leg up on other potential candidates when a position opened at Corum Real Estate. As a full-service real estate company, Corum immediately honed in on the experience and education Adams could offer to the organization (which is responsible for the property management of 4 million square feet of office, industrial, and multi-family facilities today).
The 2.5 years spent working toward the RPA designation was well worth the time and effort. Adams completed seven college-level courses - electing to take many of them in a classroom setting, but occasionally taking advantage of the self-study or accelerated courses. Of all the options, he found the traditional classroom courses to be more beneficial - especially when his knowledge of the topic was somewhat limited. “There are areas where the classroom facilitator, group discussions that you have, [and] the peers in the classroom can basically enhance the whole learning experience,” he explains.
The RPA designation also mandated that Adams attend a professional ethics seminar, abide by a professional code of ethics, and meet an experience requirement. Eligibility for the program is dependent on individuals verifying 3 years of property management experience with a portfolio or building in excess of 40,000 square feet.
As part of a team of nearly 125 real estate professionals, Adams is not alone in his pursuit of knowledge and best practices. Corum Real Estate encourages employees to pursue professional designations, increase their skills and knowledge, and grow professionally. “We have a complete professional development program for each of our property professionals at the company. We highly encourage them to take the SMA [Systems Maintenance Administrator] and SMT [Systems Maintenance Technician] courses, or the RPA courses if they’re involved in the management side of the business, in addition to other local courses and seminars that are available,” says Adams.
Practical application of the lessons learned in these courses enables decision-making based on knowledge rather than intuition. “I have these reference tools at my fingertips, and I have the knowledge from the courses that I fundamentally use as a practicing real estate professional on a daily basis,” he notes. Adams cites a few RPA courses in particular that have helped him be more effective on the job. “The courses I use as a reference and background in my weekly responsibilities are the budgeting/accounting [and] leasing/marketing courses, because our role here is to really enhance that leasing potential for all the properties,” he explains.
While Adams’ learning may have begun with his RPA designation, it didn’t stop there. “There is a continuing professional development (CPD) program that requires RPA graduates to acquire 18 points of continuing education every 3 years in order to maintain active status of the designation,” he says. For Adams, these CPD points are earned through volunteer service on BOMI’s Board of Trustees as well as teaching courses locally. With this toolkit of continuously updated information, Adams and the team at Corum Real Estate are better equipped to deal with whatever challenges business brings. “There’s such a variety of experiences and challenges that we face every day,” Adams says. “This background gives us a great opportunity to look at various situations in our profession and efficiently and effectively deal with them because of the practical experience and education that we’ve gotten from these courses.”
Jana J. Madsen ([email protected]) is managing editor at Buildings magazine.