A Dad's Thoughts on Graduations
My oldest daughter graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in May and is interviewing with various school districts for a special education position while contemplating her options to pursue a master's degree. My other daughter graduated from high school on June 12 and is heading off to Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. (known for great onions and great wine!), in the fall to study life sciences and Spanish.
Along with the many emotions associated with these two significant rites of passage, their graduations have left me reflecting on my own educational experiences. One of my favorite lines is, "I have never been qualified to do anything I have ever been hired to do …" I would like to think that I became somewhat qualified over time, but I was never specifically trained to be a waiter, an auctioneer, a paralegal, an information systems manager or a corporate real estate professional.
Like so many others, my undergraduate degree provided me with the tools and desire to learn, but not the precise instruction to wire and program a daisy chain Lantastic PC network (yes, I am dating myself!) or negotiate and draft documents for a multi-million-dollar real estate transaction. Our real skills and talents are honed over time through life/work experiences and continuous education, both in the classroom and, perhaps more importantly, from our mentors and peers.
As I reviewed some of the articles in Site Selection this month, I became struck by the breadth of knowledge and skills that we as corporate real estate professionals need to provide value to our companies, clients and agencies. We need to have a detailed knowledge of manufacturing processes, engineering, energy, logistics, transportation, construction, environmental regulations/remediation and taxes to be effective site selectors. We require strong written and oral communications skills, significant financial analysis skills, a broad understanding of vast areas of the law and familiarity with and appreciation of cultural differences and interpersonal styles to enable us to negotiate deals and draft the documents that are core to the transactions we are responsible for. We also need to be visionary, flexible, adept at bringing people together and creative.
My reality is that every deal I do, every interaction I have and each of my successes and failures provide me with additional knowledge to tuck away for future use somewhere along the line. Maybe this simple reality is the root of why I enjoy my work as much as I do. Every day brings a new experience and/or challenge to test what I already know and provide an opportunity to learn and grow.
I hope my girls have been instilled with my love of learning. And, just as they continue with their formal education, I hope that I too will continue to seek and find knowledge in every new deal and from every interaction. One of these days, I may even end up truly qualified to do what it is that I do. Thank you all for being part of my faculty, and I look forward to taking another class from each one of you in Minneapolis!
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