Whether or not you are looking to make a move in your real estate career, we have become increasingly aware that networking is the key to keeping up with the industry. The knowledge you gain and the relationships you build through networking could very well be the golden ticket to landing your next dream job.
In this executive Q&A, Kent Elliott, principal at RETS Associates, a leading search and staffing firm that focuses specifically on the real estate industry, and David Rowley, a managing director of investor services at Colliers International, discuss their insights and observations on the role that networking plays during the interview process. This interview highlights the alternative perspective of a recent HIRING SQUAD interview between Elliott and Martin Pupil, president of the West at Colliers and the executive that hired Rowley. Read that interview here.
Kent Elliott (KE): You were recently hired as a managing director at Colliers after being with a regional boutique firm for several years. Can you discuss the differences or similarities between the two positions?
David Rowley (DR): Unlike most industries, commercial real estate is quite dynamic because the business development professionals must oversee all other operations. My prior experience translated seamlessly into my new position because of my understanding of and ability to communicate clients’ goals and asset strategies. In all of my roles, I had to ensure that clients’ needs are being met, but now that exercise exists on a much larger scale with more resources.
KE: What attracted you to Colliers?
DR: Typically, there is not a lot of communication or cross-selling between different platforms in real estate services firms. However, Colliers presented an attractive opportunity. The firm instituted a strategy that positions all of its service lines and offerings as a single package to its institutional clients, and was searching for someone to oversee those blended operations. Colliers wanted someone whose experience would serve as the driving force behind the success of and collaboration between those different platforms. My background in brokerage and management, and my prior involvement in acquisitions and dispositions, ideally positioned my skillset of cross-managing different platforms to drive business development.
Through the interview process, we discussed how this new position is a hybrid of a few commodity positions; it requires me to be flexible, work with multiple teams and interface with clients to develop and confirm asset strategies. My new position combines virtually all of my previous work experience into one role.
KE: Given the current CRE market, there are lot of available positions and a shortage of talent. What advice would you give to professionals who are considering a move to a new position?
DR: Network! People must recognize that research and networking is a marathon, not a sprint. It is something that you must continue to pursue throughout your career – especially when you look to make a move. Networking is about building relationships and keeping up with the movers and shakers. Whether it is career moves, recent deals, new developments or other new endeavors, the only way to keep up with people and opportunities is to read the trade publications, and network with the people you read about.
Regardless of the way that you prefer to network, just get out there. It could be at events or industry parties, or even LinkedIn. Whatever the medium, I believe consistency is key because it allows you to maintain connections and foster relationships. Have lunch or coffee with your connections, and just get out and meet people.
I believe my constant drive to network laid the foundation for my connection with the Colliers team. A few years ago, I met Marty Pupil, the president of the West at Colliers, and we would reconnect about once a year for lunch or coffee and see each other at events or conferences. Flash forward to the middle of 2015, when the position arose, Marty remembered my name; knew my personality, demeanor and skills; and brought me in. From a culture standpoint, we already were familiar with each other, and I was confident I would be a good match for his team.
KE: Overall, how did the placement process go?
DR: In a job search, one of the worst things you could have happen is a false start with a prospective employer. That usually occurs when there is a fundamental lack of alignment between what a company needs and a candidate’s skillset. From the beginning, I was briefed on Colliers’ needs, culture and goals so that I could personally determine if it was the right fit for me. It was clear that the Colliers’ team had a clear understanding of my background and experience, too. The whole process went as smoothly as it could go due to this preparedness.
KE: Did anything occur during the process that either surprised you or that you will carry over into future recruiting efforts as you build out your own team?
DR: As I mentioned, the job search process can be a lengthy endeavor where you can speak with a number of companies and engage with a lot of people. My key takeaway was that, as a job seeker, I needed to be sure that there was alignment between the hiring company and myself.
I was incredibly fortunate that Colliers was looking for exactly what I had to offer – and that’s unique. Sometimes, you have to make compromises, but with Colliers I didn’t have to make any – it just happened to be a perfect fit.