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Passing the baton

New IREM leadership looks at the year ahead

By Journal of Property Management
From left to right: Mindy Gronbeck, CPM®, CCIM,
CSM, CRX; Libby Ekre, CPM®; Dawn Carpenter, CPM®
From left to right: Mindy Gronbeck, CPM®, CCIM, CSM, CRX; Libby Ekre, CPM®; Dawn Carpenter, CPM®

JPM talked to the 2024 IREM Officers about what’s ahead for the Institute in the new year and beyond.

President:
Libby Ekre, CPM®
MEB Management Services, AMO®
Phoenix, AZ

President-Elect:
Dawn Carpenter, CPM®
Dawning Real Estate, Inc., AMO®
Staten Island, NY

Secretary/Treasurer:
Mindy Gronbeck, CPM®, CCIM, CSM, CRX
Hawkins Companies LLC, AMO®
Boise, ID

LIbby Ekre, CPM®

President Libby Ekre, CPM®

JPM: As the 2024 IREM President, what long-term initiatives do you hope to bring to the role?

Libby Ekre: IREM’s Board of Directors will continue its work toward the goals we’ve set within our strategic plan. This plan is reviewed annually for validity and relevancy and is reset every five years. Our focus is established by our Board of Directors’ well-thought-out strategy. That focus is on building awareness of real estate management and our profession becoming known, understood, and globally recognized. We want to equip our next generation for future success, keep IREM relevant, and keep our customers engaged.

Another goal is to ensure that our knowledge solutions are recognized as essential to all real estate stakeholders and that IREM leads the global real estate management community in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In addition to these exceptional focus areas, we’re also focused on getting a better understanding of and investing in our international friends and expanding on potential new opportunities.

JPM: What strengths do you think this team brings to IREM leadership, and how can you expand on last year’s work?

LE: We all care deeply about IREM and are grateful for the opportunities that the real estate industry has given to us. We understand that people are our most valuable asset. Each of us is proud of and humbled by our position and is grateful for our members.

To keep moving forward as an organization, we’ll focus on an inclusive environment where every member feels valued and appreciated. We’ll continue to be at the forefront of advancements in technology and learning and to market to a broader, more diverse audience to make this a destination career, not just one arrived at by chance. We’ll strive to build our brand and use our data to be more proactive in meeting our members’ changing needs, using key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter to our members.

JPM: What 2023 project are you proudest of?

LE: First, I admire how we’ve developed our international focus and the work we’re doing there. Second, it’s been great working with Jason Jackson, CPM®, ARM®, vice chair of the Regional Vice President (RVP) Advisory Council, and our incredible RVPs—we’re focused on the IREM experience through our chapters, making sure we’re relevant and consistent and serving members and customers who are engaged on their own terms.

JPM: You mentioned in an interview last year that you expected the IREM Certified Sustainable Property (CSP) program to take off. There are now more than 1,600 IREM CSPs, and the numbers continue to grow. How can IREM build on this program’s success in 2024, and what does its popularity say about members’ interest in sustainability in general?

LE: Real estate managers are aware of and understand the need for programs that help the environment, create efficiencies, and save money. Lenders, clients, residents, and tenants desire to work and live in climate-friendly buildings that are ESG-focused. Those are the keys to the growth of the CSP program, and those conditions aren’t changing anytime soon.

JPM: How should IREM ensure we continue to be at the leading edge of real estate management and support our members in taking on leadership opportunities in the profession?

LE: The learning opportunities with IREM are there for all levels of leadership, in all types of real estate disciplines. IREM provides the quintessential leadership track for the leading certifications, education, networking, and professional opportunities.

An interesting fact about IREM leaders is that we have the enormous opportunity to work alongside some of the best consultants and experts, such as James Scott, our innovator-in-residence from MIT; fellow NAR affiliates and their officer teams; and an Executive Advisors group comprising leadership from top real estate companies throughout the world. Working with them ensures that we’re as informed as possible when we make decisions for our membership.

JPM: What else are you looking forward to in 2024?

LE: I look forward to working alongside our talented HQ team and this incredibly enthusiastic, smart, and fun Leadership Team. I’m excited to help enhance our members’ experiences and for IREM to be their go-to for all things real estate management. I look forward to seeing some of our strategies come to fruition and for those accomplishments to be nurtured by the future IREM Leadership Team. Our strategies are clear, and our passion for this purpose is genuine. We are all in!

President-Elect Dawn Carpenter, CPM®

President-Elect Dawn Carpenter, CPM®

JPM: How will your experiences from last year as IREM’s Secretary/Treasurer inform your new role as President-Elect?

Dawn Carpenter: I moved into the role of Secretary/Treasurer partly as an observer. I could run meetings and collaborate with the Leadership Team on a different level. And I traveled internationally with them and for them, which was great. The three of us traveled to Japan and South Korea, and later, I traveled to Spain to collaborate with organizations that could potentially partner with IREM. The Secretary/Treasurer usually doesn’t travel, but now that we have this five-person enhanced leadership arc, I can do a little more than I otherwise would. I look forward to being President-Elect; you’re there to help the Leadership Team and the President. And should the President be unavailable, I can fill in. I know my role as the incoming President-Elect and will support the President with whatever she needs.

JPM: The year ahead is looking like a big one, with an election on the horizon and ongoing economic concerns. With these factors in mind, how can IREM best adapt to the changing needs of our membership?

DC: Those concerns are very serious. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people started working from home, and many haven’t returned to their offices. So, you’ve got a lot of buildings that have commercial mortgages coming due, and the landlords won’t be able to refinance those mortgages based on the income levels and vacancies of their properties. That’s a problem the government will have to look at and decide how to handle.

JPM: As IREM works to expand in the international arena and with the next generation of real estate managers, what programs or practices are needed to foster and strengthen these new relationships?

DC: It would be great if IREM explored translating the webinars and on-demand learning into appropriate languages so people could take those online courses with us internationally. For example, Spanish is spoken in 15 different countries where we’re building partnerships. We need to ramp up to help those various Spanish-speaking organizations. We’re investigating what resources that would take, and how, by doing this, we could expand and strengthen our relationships. We need to meet with different countries like we did in Spain, sit at the table, and say, “What can we do for you? How can we help each other?”

Next Gen will be a big part of that; they’ll keep us going. In Spain, we met with two young real estate professionals, probably in their late 20s and early 30s. They’ve just started to take the courses offered at the University of Navarro in Madrid, and they’re set to take their CPM exams based on the education they received there.

JPM: What advice do you have for new or prospective IREM members on getting the most from their IREM experience?

DC: Use the resources we offer. Read JPM. Engage and be part of the process. Be part of transforming our industry and making a difference, whether that’s getting involved in a committee or being part of leadership. Having a seat at the table for those conversations is most important, so become involved.

JPM: IREM’s organizational values include leadership, collaboration, integrity, inclusion, and knowledge sharing. Over the course of your career, is there a particular value you’ve identified with that has allowed you to become the leader you are today?

DC: You have to encompass all of them. Integrity is inherent. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it. And you have to know how to collaborate with other people. I don’t think there was one particular thing that got me where I am, but the leadership portion is made up of collaboration, integrity, inclusion, and knowledge sharing. You don’t get to be a leader without those qualities.

JPM: Where does the future take us? Any new plans in mind or specific projects we should keep an eye on?

DC: I’m following the strategic plan of the association. I’m internationally focused. Based on what I’ve seen this year, I believe we can grow our international program. And Renee Savage, CPM®, CCIM, created a Presidential Task Force to guide our future direction.

We need to collaborate with other organizations in the real estate industry around the world. The more connections we have, the more we can grow our membership. We’re already starting in Madrid. This all contributes to knowledge sharing—networking outside of the United States, learning what others do and how they accomplish their day-to-day.

Secretary/Treasurer Mindy Gronbeck, CPM®, CCIM, CSM, CRX

Secretary/Treasurer Mindy Gronbeck, CPM®, CCIM, CSM, CRX

JPM: You’ve served in several different capacities for IREM, including in governance and as an instructor. How will your experience in these previous roles inform your role as Secretary/Treasurer?

Mindy Gronbeck: I’ve been in volunteer roles with IREM since 2006. I’ve served in multiple roles at the chapter level and on many committees. I’ve served on the IREM Board of Directors and as an instructor. I’ve taught the certification courses, including the ethics course, on a regular basis.

All those roles have been building blocks for serving as an Officer for the organization. I have a good working knowledge—as well as governance knowledge—about the organization. I can take that experience and lean into conversations, help make organizational changes, and offer strategic direction for where we need to go.

JPM: How can IREM increase member engagement in 2024?

MG: I think chapters are a huge part of member engagement as we move forward. We know we have successful chapters and chapters that are struggling. We’re gathering data to better understand how our chapters are performing, how IREM HQ can develop tools and resources to support our chapters, and how to best serve our members through chapters.

I think the world as a whole has struggled to determine what this next normal looks like. Everyone is beyond busy in their normal jobs, and it’s hard for them to take time out to attend a social event or even a continuing education session.

JPM: What specific area will merit more attention in the upcoming year?

MG: Even though it’s not part of the strategic plan, artificial intelligence (AI) is moving so fast that I think we need to build a greater understanding of the capabilities of AI in real estate management. As we review our strategic plan, as we do every year, we’ll be determining the gravity of the AI advances and whether we need to address the technology in a more formal manner.

Like other technologies, AI can be used for good and bad. Real estate managers are using it for good in many ways, but there are many opportunities for bad actors to use it for nefarious purposes. How will AI impact what we do from a leasing standpoint at our properties or from a financial management aspect? What are the privacy and cybersecurity implications? We’ll be answering those questions as AI moves forward.

JPM: What would you like to accomplish during your term?

MG: I want to focus on the IREM experience for members. We want our members to be engaged on their own terms and appreciate that they’re part of something big. I want our members to understand that we do a lot of work every year that benefits them, and they should be proud of being an IREM member. We need to educate members about all the resources IREM has available—resources to help them work smarter, not harder, and benefit their careers.

JPM: Let’s look beyond 2024. What does IREM need to do to position the organization and our members for success in five years? In 10 years?

MG: I think we have to be able to anticipate members’ needs based on the current situation. As I’ve mentioned—and it’s worth repeating—I believe AI is a significant consideration; AI could completely change our industry, and we need to be aware of its capabilities, advantages, and disadvantages.

The other things all revolve around our strategic plan, which is reviewed annually to ensure that all items are still relevant and that all of them are still moving forward for the success of the Institute. We’re watching and researching our industry’s reactions to trends coming down the pipeline. We have to be innovative and creative in addressing everything our members will experience over the next five to 10 years.

Journal of Property Management

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