Most reading this can easily discuss the intricacies of a real estate transaction. But what about the topics of inventory management, supply chain efficiency and resiliency, customer service, corporate social responsibility, cash flow, workplace collaboration, etc.?
Corporate real estate (CRE) has a tremendous impact on all of these, and the senior corporate real estate executive’s task is to interpret CRE within the business language of the C-suite.
Ram Charan, a well-known management consultant, outlines the universal issues of business success in his book “What the CEO Wants You to Know.” It’s a great short read, and if CRE executives can describe real estate’s impact through the language presented in the book, they are well on their way to becoming respected and important leaders in their organizations.
This sets the stage for exciting IAMC news. We just finished our January leadership meeting with the board of directors (BOD), staff, and committee co-chairs. What a fantastic group of leaders, and congratulations to Tate Godfrey for organizing this, his first IAMC leadership session. We successfully reinforced the relationship of the BOD (strategic direction), Councils and Committees (policy and program details), and staff (professional execution).
The main event for the leaders was a facilitated four-hour session to define the meaning of world-class education to IAMC, which will result in the presentation of IAMC’s Strategic Education Plan at the July BOD meeting. This plan will help to define common themes for all IAMC efforts: Forums, program content, Local and International events, research and publications.
Not surprisingly, IAMC will focus on the relevancy of CRE to the C-suite. You will continue to see attention to CRE basics, but our core will be expert knowledge sharing and experiential learning through the participation and interaction of our corporate real estate executives, economic developers and service providers.
Thanks to Art Murray, Lavista Associates and IAMC Education Strategic Plan Task Force Leader; Joel Parker, IAMC Staff; and Michael Barrett, Leadership Strategies, for their leadership in this effort.
Now to the campaign! The most important push this year will be IAMC’s goal to get 100 or more Actives to a Forum. As I continue to emphasize, one of IAMC’s powerful core principles is our balance between Actives and Associates — both in membership and at events.
So, Actives: please register. Bring along one of your end-user colleagues. And Associates: Please bring an industrial end-user client.
If you need help, contact Director of Membership Development Brenton Schulze at (770) 325-3476 or firstname.lastname@example.org to see if there’s a special program that can be used to engage the non-member end-user or Active member.Kevin Dollhopf
he best opportunity for the corporate real estate (CRE) director to make a strong, positive first impression on a top manager who’s new to the company is the initial briefing of that person on the CRE department’s work scope and value to the enterprise. To explore the issue, we surveyed IAMC Active member department heads. This article will examine survey** evidence, both statistical and written comments, on the topic.
About 60 percent of survey respondents reported they had briefed a new corporate leader. Half of those who had conducted briefings met with a treasurer or chief financial officer. The respondents also met with corporate general counsel, operations, quality and chief information officers.
There’s some urgency to schedule and complete the briefing. After all, the CRE work continues apace even while the new manager learns the company’s internal workings. The survey suggests the most common time frame for the task is about two months after the new manager reports. But a quarter of respondents got the job done in less than a month.
The survey asked how the top-manager briefing was conducted. Almost two thirds took the form of a single, in-person meeting, while a quarter required multiple meetings.
How did the CRE directors feel afterwards about the value of these meetings? The largest proportion, half, rated them “satisfactory.” And equal numbers rated them “highly satisfactory” and “not sure.”
We asked the respondents to write in what they felt worked well when they sat down with the top managers. The primary response themes were to utilize summaries and stay away from details; make the presentations visual; and, most importantly, to stay focused on business unit needs. Secondarily, there was a suggestion to follow up to provide additional information later, if needed. One respondent cautioned, “Limit [the presentation] to about 10 charts with graphics that present the portfolio in an easy to understand manner.” Another said, “Preparing a summary document that was provided as a pre-read was essential, so the in-person meeting could be focused on questions or clarifications.”
We also asked “What would you do differently next time?” For this, the not surprising theme was to talk less about CRE details and more about how the department supports corporate strategy. One CRE leader said, “Ask what goals the new leader would like to achieve through the real estate department.” Another noted, “… Stay away from chatter on RE databases …” Perhaps the most interesting suggestion was this: “Ask them what they think CRE is before we give the presentation, and then ask again afterwards if it changed [their perception].”
The closing survey section asked for any other ideas the respondent might want to offer. The themes here were these: Address the new manager’s needs and interests, not the CRE department’s; assess the person’s CRE background and tailor the briefing to suit; and incorporate quantitative input whenever possible. One respondent offered, “To be successful at a C-suite presentation, you need to speak to their interests and in their language.”
What did the survey tell us? First, most of the information transfers were by in-person interview, indicating getting to know the CRE directors themselves was very important to the top managers as well as learning about the CRE department’s activities. Sometimes the briefing happened several months after the new top manager’s arrival, likely because these are very busy people. Most CRE directors felt the meetings went well. The best briefings stay high-level and avoid getting into details; they focus on CRE’s impact on corporate strategy. Lastly, understand the C-suite perspective and speak to that.
— Joel Parker
*The upcoming Research Roundtable scheduled for April 26, 2015, in conjunction with the Palm Desert Professional Forum will address the topic “How to Explain the Value of Corporate Real Estate (CRE) to New Corporate Leadership.” All Active members are encouraged to participate in this program.
**The survey results may not be representative of all IAMC corporate real estate department heads.