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On fire

2019 REME Awardees bring a spark to the profession

By Journal of Property Management staff
Smiling Men And Women Holding Sparklers, Festive Atmosphere, Luxury Lifestyle

In its 2019 REME (Real Estate Management Excellence) Awards for CPM of the Year and ARM of the Year, IREM selected individuals with not only great vision, but intelligence and drive. Both individuals are outstanding players within their respective firms, and their dedication to the real estate management profession in general—and IREM in particular—is highly noteworthy.

CPM of the Year: Shannon Longino, CPM
Truist Community Capital (formerly SunTrust Community Capital), Atlanta, GA

Shannon Longino has been in the real estate management profession for more than 25 years and served as the 2018-2019 IREM Georgia Chapter president. As expected for a professional with that degree of longevity, she’s built a network of partners to call upon for a variety of activities, but she wants more. She wants to bring more faces and more voices into the industry.

“If they could see me, they would know that we’re very interested in their career development.”

—Shannon Longino, CPM

Longino recently served on the advisory board for the University of Georgia’s (UGA) College of Family and Consumer Science, which offers a program in residential property management in its department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Science. Along with other chapter members involved in the program, Longino became a major supporter. “I thought that if the IREM chapter president was involved with the students, the organization would have more impact. If they could see me, they would know that we’re very interested in their career development—plus, we could pair them up with mentors to help them begin their careers.”

“When I looked at our chapter membership,” Longino adds, “I realized we needed to recruit new members and new leaders, but property management is not widely taught: UGA and Virginia Tech are a couple among a limited number of schools that teach property management. To keep our industry growing, we have to teach the coursework and develop personal relationships. I went on behalf of IREM and Truist to teach an affordable housing class. It was a great platform from which to hold an industry roundtable with other companies and show our interest in our young professionals.”

Even before she was chapter president, Longino chaired the Corporate Outreach committee and worked to re-engage companies that hadn’t been active in IREM for a while. Longino says those companies might have held back because “there wasn’t a lot of data to see what our successes were. I used my 27 years of relationships with CEOs and presidents of companies and invited them to IREM meetings, and I asked to speak with them at their offices to let them know of some new ideas we were implementing and remind them of the benefit of investing in their employees.”

Longino has also injected extra spirit into chapter activities, scheduling meetings and launching new events to keep members energized. One of her favorites was a superhero party, where attendees were encouraged to don hero/heroine costumes that exemplified “what we aspire to be and the qualities we have, like courage, strength, vision and tenacity. We got outside the box with that one.”

Some events took members to parts of Atlanta they hadn’t known about, including the neighborhood Longino grew up in. Her grandmother was an outstanding community activist in the Eastlake neighborhood, and Shannon works hard to maintain her legacy. “I was raised in an environment of public service. My grandmother was an advocate for low-income families, and I was recruited to help at an early age. I’ve been taught how to pull people together, go in and build on their expectations, not what we expect of them.”

Longino feels that philosophy meshes easily with IREM’s mission, especially when it comes to attracting and mentoring young professionals. “IREM is trying to build on their talents by teaching them ethics, finance, management, maintenance and so on. Ethical practices will give them the right foundation and business acumen to go anywhere. [IREM education] stands for itself; for a person who wants to invest in themselves, it’s a natural fit.”

ARM of the Year: Jesse Miller, ARM, ACoM
Greystar, AMO, Portland, OR

Jesse Miller is definitely a man with a vision. He fully embraces looking ahead to see what trends will affect the real estate management industry in the coming years.

One area that’s caught Miller’s attention is a need for training on mixed-use property management. He’s been working with IREM to establish education that allows those with a background in residential property management to cross-train in office/retail management, and vice versa. Miller backs up the need for this training with numbers. “Of the $1.328 trillion spent on commercial construction in 2017, about 80% of that was some version of mixed-use. So, having professionals trained in both sides of that is important.”

“What drove me was U.S. Census Bureau data that says by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials.”

—Jesse Miller, ARM, ACoM

One way in which IREM has met this need, according to Miller, is by converting the online version of the Managing Commercial Properties course into a live version. “We hosted the first-of-its-kind, live, in-person version of Managing Commercial Properties for mixed-use managers here at Greystar in Portland, and it was a great success.” Miller is proud of IREM for the foresight and flexibility in launching the new program, which was adopted by some other Greystar offices and will be available for IREM chapter delivery in U.S. locations as well.

Still, housing and residential property management has its own challenges.

“We should be having constructive conversations among all parties to find worthwhile solutions to create more housing for everybody,” says Miller. “This time last year, according to the numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 430,000 job openings in construction,” says Miller. With construction costs, taxes and utility expenses all on the rise, “it’s a perfect storm to discourage future construction in some markets.”

Miller has been working locally to build coalitions that can address these concerns in a way that involves all stakeholders — both in the public and private sectors.

Property managers can also be affected by these shifts in the labor pool, Miller says. “People tend to move where the jobs are, and if a lot of construction is going on at the same time or place, you’re going to have high demand for the trade positions. We understand this connection in our industry, and have seen some maintenance professionals transition into the trades to meet that demand.”

This leads into another area of interest for Miller: What are the millennials doing? “I’ve seen many millennials entering university programs instead of the trades, which has further impacted the important need for skilled trades professionals,” he says. “Speaking of millennials, I also started a lecture series a couple of years ago called ‘Confessions of the Millennial Mind’ and, as a millennial myself, I feel like I’m licensed to speak to that, to a degree. What drove me was U.S. Census Bureau data that says by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials, while every day about 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age. So, even beyond the workforce demands, a massive percentage of our future clients, managers, customers and residents will be millennials”

Miller advocates developing an understanding of how millennials operate and learning to bridge the generation gaps among millennials, baby boomers, Gen X and Gen Z, so everyone can benefit from each generational cohort’s strengths. Miller has studied how his generational cohort works—everything from how its members want to customize their office space to why their job retention rates aren’t as high in comparison to those of other generations. He wants to communicate that information to all the generations, so they understand millennials’ skillsets and expectations.

Visit irem.org for more information on the IREM course Managing Commercial Properties, referenced in this article.

Miller has taught classes on this topic in Washington state, Oregon, Colorado and even at an event at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, where he was working with students to promote the field of real estate management. “In China, the field is really in its infancy in terms of the build-to-rent model, instead of build-to-own. So, there’s a lot of interest in establishing a foundation and aligning best practices in property management across the country,” Miller reports.

Miller is undoubtedly a great ambassador for IREM’s vision of the future.

Maggie Callahan

Written by Journal of Property Management staff

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