BUILDINGS file photo
Henry Chamberlain delivers his State of the Industry address at the 2023 BOMA International Conference & Expo. Chamberlain is stepping down as BOMA International president and COO at the end of 2024, capping 39 years as a staff member of the organization.

BOMA International’s Leadership Transition: What’s Next?

April 8, 2024
Henry Chamberlain—president and COO of BOMA International and BOMI—is stepping down at the end of 2024. He’ll be succeeded by SVP Mary Lue Peck. They both sat down with BUILDINGS to discuss commercial real estate’s past, present and future.

Big changes are afoot at BOMA International and BOMI. President and chief operating officer Henry Chamberlain recently announced he’s stepping down at the end of 2024 after 39 years with the organization, including nearly 23 as its leader. He’ll be succeeded by senior vice president Mary Lue Peck, who joined the organization in 2021.

Chamberlain and Peck sat down with BUILDINGS to discuss how commercial real estate has evolved—and what we can look forward to in its future. Check out the highlights below, and check out the Buildings Podcast (also available on your favorite podcasting app) to hear our full discussion.

BUILDINGS: Henry, I want to start by congratulating you on your upcoming retirement. You’ve been leading this association for almost 23 years now, and the world of commercial real estate has changed so much during that time. What would you say are the key factors that have helped BOMA International change with the times?

Henry Chamberlain: Well, when I started, we were really primarily an office trade association. We’ve expanded greatly over the years. We’re now just as industrial-oriented, medical/healthcare, life sciences—our fastest-growing conference is medical/healthcare facilities. Of course, you throw in data centers, self-storage. So we’ve really expanded to be a full-service commercial real estate organization, if you will. So that’s been a change.

Of course, technology’s changed a lot. I remember when I started here, we were still faxing, and we had a messenger budget. Now it’s all attachments, and all the rest. You think about how an office is running now and how people are using the space—big changes on that side. Demographics, women are now the majority of BOMA membership. When I started, it was probably 80-20 male. Now it’s 60-40 female. Big, big change around property management and who’s leading this industry. We’ve been very good at keeping all those folks involved throughout the years.

It's a unified industry now, which I’m very proud of from an advocacy perspective. When we lobby on Capitol Hill around taxes, there are 16, 17 organizations representing trillions of dollars in real estate that are lobbying and making the case for how you create jobs, how you have a healthy economy, and how you use real estate as a major factor in a successful economy.

And then, of course, I’d just finish up with high-performance buildings. The fact that we’re really working towards decarbonization—if you look for high performance, it’s not only a good business strategy, it’s where we’re going in terms of environmental [stewardship]. Clearly institutional investors are looking for green real estate, they’re looking for the decarbonization [metrics]. We’re moving towards carbon-neutral or net zero or zero emissions, whatever our target is, by 2040-2050. That high-performance piece and the ability to label that, whether it’s BOMA 360—one of our programs, which is a great training tool, or BOMA BEST, which is a program we’re bringing out of Canada, which has a really nice environmental bent—they both do, but it takes it to the next level with data analytics and technology. Really creating a high-performance building stock across all of those asset classes is something we’ve really been working on and those are big changes around BOMA International.

BUILDINGS: Speaking of changing with the times, where do the two of you see commercial real estate going within the next five or 10 years?

Chamberlain: I’m an optimist, but I think you can look at real estate and think of it cyclically. Particularly, you mentioned I’ve been at BOMA for 39 years. We’ve been through a few cycles. We’re going to reinvent and reimagine this industry in incredibly strong ways.

Back to high performance, new applications, looking at industrial in terms of supply chain, bringing back some manufacturing. You look at medical/healthcare, which is being driven by demographics. Office, we’re going to repurpose office. We’re going to develop new product types, and we’re going to partner that up in our communities as well. I think what you’re going to see outside of 2024-25 is a robust industry similar to what we saw in the past decade, because that’s what this industry does extremely well—creates value, new product, meets the marketplace demands.

Mary Lue Peck: I would add that cities and governments need to really examine different mixes of land uses and think about how to create a downtown community that people want to do business in and people want to go to. For example, what are we going to do with all of the older real estate? The average building in the U.S. is more than 60 years old. What are we going to do with that real estate? Will the cities invest? Will they rehab it? Will we take it down? Because there’s a lot of stock that really isn’t going to come back to life in its current form.

Check out the full episode, available now, to hear about Peck’s goals as she prepares to take over as the organization’s first female president and COO, a sneak peek of Chamberlain’s 2024 State of the Industry address, and more—and be sure to subscribe to the BUILDINGS Podcast on your favorite podcasting app today!

About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with a special emphasis on covering facilities management. She aims to deliver practical, actionable content for facilities professionals.

About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with a special emphasis on covering facilities management. She aims to deliver practical, actionable content for facilities professionals.

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