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BUILDINGS Bulletin - Presented by BUILDINGS

Trials and Triumphs for Women in Commercial Real Estate
If there’s one predictor of success in commercial real estate, it’s finding a mentor to show you the ropes. Echoing the keynote address by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, the perennially popular women’s breakfast at the BOMA International annual conference, which brings together a panel of women making their mark in commercial real estate, featured a relaxed discussion focused on mentorship and building nurturing relationships with other professionals.

A packed room of commercial real estate professionals from every stage in their careers listened intently as the panelists discussed their successes and challenges, from balancing work and family to teaching the next generation of property managers. The session was jam-packed with valuable insights for any property manager, including:

  • Find someone who shares your passion. “Look for a role model who is also passionate about their career,” suggested Melanie Bellinger, property manager for Copaken Brooks. “Someone who cares about the career they’re in and who is patient and committed to helping you in your career path.”
  • Know your strengths—and your weaknesses. Women in traditionally male-dominated fields often feel the need to prove themselves repeatedly by never admitting to weakness, but sometimes the areas where you’re less strong can turn into great learning opportunities for your mentee. “My boss is an introvert and she’d sit me by certain people so that I had to do the talking,” explained Teresa Foster, executive director of BOMA/Dallas. “It wasn’t something that came naturally to her, but she found a way to make it happen.”
  • Don’t forget the help you received. “It’s important as women that we look for opportunities to mentor and give back,” said Brenna Walraven, BOMA Fellow, and a past BOMA Chair. “Mentoring is hard. It takes time. You’re a leader with a busy schedule and it’s hard to find time to sit down and say ‘Let’s walk through that,’ but it’s something we should all be thinking about.”
  • Set a good example. Even if you’re not formally serving as a mentor, you’re likely contributing many insights that a mentor would typically share without even realizing it, explained Betty Lagred, national operations manager for USAA Real Estate. “While you’re doing all of this, your assistant is also watching you, and in a way you’re mentoring or serving as a role model,” she said. “One day, we’ll retire and we want to make sure someone else is there who’s just as good as we are.”

Read more highlights from the women’s breakfast on

Attracting the Next Generation of Talent
Attracting the next generation of talent is no easy task. BOMA/San Francisco’s Careers Committee has created a system to make it as smooth as possible while attracting 23 new graduates to property management in 18 months. During the BOMA 2018 session Mentorship: Attracting the Next Generation of Talent, the panel shared how they accomplished this fantastic feat.

The panelists (from left) Nicole DuBee, property manager with Columbia Property Trust; Anne Hill, real estate portfolio manager at Bently Enterprises; and Lee Miller, senior property manager at Cushman & Wakefield told a full room of attendees how programs involving mentorship and awareness will help you snag quality talent. The group has a strategic two-part plan for success.

First, they suggest looking at the demographics needed to fill future positions, competition among other industries desirable to students and awareness of careers in property management. “Unlike demographics and competition, lack of awareness is something we can do something about,” Miller noted.

To create and increase awareness, BOMA/San Francisco focused on three things:

Explore: Focus in one spot to connect with students. The group teamed with San Francisco State University to commit to working with students, reaching them through classroom and lunchtime presentations and by visiting student organizations.

Connect: The group helped the students see what a career in the field would look like by providing building tours, informational interviews, workshops and job shadows.

Achieve: At this level, the focus is on staying connected through mentorship and quality relationships over a large number of relationships.

Read more about how BOMA/San Francisco achieved success on

Engaging with Fellow Emerging Professionals
Emerging professionals in the industry gathered Monday afternoon for a chance to talk and connect at the BOMA 2018 Emerging Professionals in Commercial Real Estate Program & Networking session. The event began with panelists from BOMA International’s Emerging Professionals Committee, including Chair Mason Bodie of BOMA/Dallas (shown above), asking questions and fielding answers from attendees. It was a lively conversation where people from different jobs, locations, ages and perspectives shared their experience and point of view.

The conversation included:

  • How to leverage social and career networks: Building and maintaining relationships will help so much, with multiple people citing organizations like BOMA and connecting with vendors as a way to meet people outside your company.
  • Advice to others: When setting goals, write them down and think about who you want to be, not what you want to do; say yes to opportunities and you will continue to be invited to do them.
  • Where you see the industry in the future: Participants predicted the number of women in the industry will continue to increase.
  • Navigating office politics: Stay away from it (which caused quite a few laughs) and don’t take things personally.
After the session, the emerging professionals had the opportunity to mingle and network with one another, panelists and BOMA Fellows while enjoying food and drink.

Green and Technology Pavilions Have Impressive Options

Andy Nourse of ChargePoint (above) demonstrates the company’s networked electric vehicle charging stations, which are becoming an increasingly popular amenity for multifamily and office buildings. A linked app tells users which stations have a space open for charging. ChargePoint appeared in the Green Pavilion of the BOMA International Expo, where Davey Tree shared its new solution, a comprehensive water audit—an analysis of current irrigation (including heads, flow and watering schedules). They will tell you how to adjust what you are doing and what needs to change over time as your landscaping matures and evolves.

Over at the Technology Pavilion, vendors showed their high-tech solutions. Microsoft featured its spatial intelligence capabilities in Azure IoT for smart buildings and demonstrated how its partners are using this technology. Microsoft’s partners illustrated how these capabilities can take connected devices further in IoT than they’re currently being used. Above, Convene’s Jonathan Roketenetz demonstrates Azure’s capabilities for Beatrice De La Rosa of Transwestern. In addition, Microsoft is investing $5 billion in IoT over the next four years.

Also on the show floor, Turing Video demonstrated NIMBO, a smart and affordable security robot on a Segway. NIMBO features two-way video chat, 360-degree recordings, facial recognition, cloud storage and live streaming.

Cutting-Edge Solutions at the Cornerstone Partners Pavilion
During day two of the Expo, the Cornerstone Partners Pavilion continued to exhibit advanced technologies that keep tenants satisfied and make building management easier and faster. Check out these innovative solutions from four BOMA Cornerstone Partners.

  • Kimberly-Clark Professional: This Cornerstone Partner demonstrated the sophisticated ONVATION Restroom Management System, an IoT-enabled subscription service that tracks the availability of towels, tissue and skin care products with IoT sensors. The system alerts property managers via a mobile dashboard when something is jammed or running low. “Instead of loading up your cart at the beginning of the day, going to each restroom and trying to figure out what needs to be serviced and whether things are jamming, this delivers all the issues before they even become problems,” explains Peter Leahy of Kimberly-Clark Professional.
  • Kings III Emergency Communications: An innovative elevator touchscreen provides an easy-to-use way for deaf or hard of hearing people to summon help if an elevator becomes stuck. Users can connect to an ASL interpreter who will then relay their messages to first responders. The screen, a partnership with TouchSource, will fulfill new requirements in the 2018 International Building Code and can also deliver weather reports, top headlines, local event listings and more when it’s not needed for emergencies.
  • The Home Depot: BOMA membership pays—literally. The Home Depot offers a two percent cash-back program for any member of BOMA International—just make sure you enter the program code BOMA when you register. Spend $25,000 with The Home Depot in a year and get a two percent rebate on all qualifying purchases.
  • thyssenkrupp: MULTI places multiple elevators in the same shaft, reducing the number of individual shafts your building will need. The cars can move vertically or horizontally and use a linear drive system instead of ropes for flexibility. Tenants never wait more than 15-30 seconds for the elevator.

Cheers to the BOMA Fellows
BOMA Fellows gathered with well wishers in the Trane booth to raise a glass of champagne on their accomplishment during Tuesday's Expo.

Cindy Niles, You’re Going to BOMA 2019!
Cindy Niles of Transwestern won a free registration for the BOMA 2019 annual conference in Salt Lake City, a $795 value, on the prize stage at the Expo. Niles said she’s looking forward to exploring a new city and state.

Lead Your Team to the Finish Line
Where is your finish line? Shawn Rhodes, a war correspondent commissioned by the federal government to study high-performing teams, asked attendees to answer this question at BOMA 2018’s first Spotlight Session. New this year, the Spotlight Sessions feature engaging discussions with leaders in innovation, business and coaching.

“Finish lines are something you don’t have to wait until the end of the race to cross. You can cross your own finish lines before the race even begins for your people,” Rhodes said. A finish line is a solid understanding of what success looks like. Every member of your organization needs to know what their individual finish line looks like and what they need to do to get there. A real finish line has three qualities:

  • It’s precise in both time and description, with a concrete timeline, expected response rate and any other metrics you’ll use to measure success.
  • It’s profitable, but not just in financial terms. How often do you share your strategy with employees? Not knowing how individual tasks lead to the desired end result makes people feel like they’re doing busy work and leads to disengagement, which then impacts your bottom line.
  • A finish line is set on purpose. Everyone needs to know what your purpose is so they can see how their responsibilities help fulfill it.

“I’ve seen teams come together at the last minute where there was no planning for psychology or personalities and they were still able to accomplish their goals because they understood what the finish line was,” Rhodes said. “Often if a team comes together organically and succeeds, it’s because they were on a tight timeline with a difficult task to accomplish. They put their differences aside.”

Can Your Business Survive a Disaster?
Surviving a natural disaster takes extensive preparation, a skilled team behind you and the ability to pivot as circumstances dictate. Can your building stand up against hurricanes, earthquakes or blizzards? In a Monday afternoon panel, Hurricanes, Earthquakes and Snow: How Industrial Properties Prepare, Michael Bodendorf and Isabel Pacheco of Realterm and Allan Loechert of Aon Risk Solutions stressed the importance of being proactive, especially for industrial properties where tenants can’t work remotely as easily as they might be able to in an office setting. No matter what kind of storm you’re vulnerable to, Pacheco recommends a seven-step process for responding to natural disaster threats:

  • Understand the risk. Snow means a risk of mounding or drifting snow on your roof, for instance.
  • Determine which of your locations could be affected. Are some portions of your portfolio affected by certain types of weather?
  • Assess the upcoming threat. For each type of weather threat, what could happen to your building? Snow could make the roof collapse, while hurricanes could lead to wind uplift, downed power lines and flooding.
  • Ensure life safety: Prepare to shelter in place or evacuate as necessary.
  • Activate the emergency response plan: For an incoming earthquake, for instance, be sure to anchor or brace furniture, equipment and piping. Install seismic gas shutoff valves if you can, Loechert urged the audience. If you don’t and the gas line breaks, you’re risking fire damage on top of the damage from the actual natural disaster.
  • Contact local safety and emergency services.
  • Notify key contacts, like vendors that you have pre-existing cleanup partnerships with.

Scenes from the Alamo City
Monday night was all about the parties. There were lots of opportunities for BOMA 2018 attendees to kick back and enjoy themselves.

Micah Larmie of Transwestern, Abby Kichora of Transwestern and Amy Masters of BOMA/Chicago donned sombreros for Monday night’s BOMA Fiesta. Hosted by Cornerstone Partners Comcast Business, thyssenkrupp and Yardi at Cafe Ole and the Agave Bar on San Antonio’s famed Riverwalk, the BOMA Fiesta welcomed guests with food, fun and a mariachi band. “The TOBYs seminar was my favorite part,” Masters said. “We got some more tips from different markets. It was very insightful.”

Kelly Theis of BOMA/Greater Minneapolis; Kevin Lewis, executive director of BOMA/Greater Minneapolis; Pat Seng of Cushman & Wakefield; Tara Steinkraus of Duke Realty; and Greg Wohlforth of BOMA/Greater Minneapolis eagerly awaited the band at the Fiesta in San Antonio by Able Services. “I thank the Able folks for putting on an awesome night,” Lewis added.

Angelia Franklin, senior property manager for Crescent Property Management and vice president of BOMA/Fort Worth, chats with Dan Baldauf of Schneider Electric at the MACH Energy Party held at the Yard House.

Lawrence Weintraub of BOMA/St. Louis, Brittany Meye and Zach Aldridge with GP Pro, and Kelsey Morgan of Oracle have a good time at the GP Pro cocktail reception at Boudro’s on the Riverwalk. The various exhibitor parties each year let attendees network in a more relaxed setting.

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