Gen Excellent

Warning: the March issue of CPE contains data that you may find distressing. Here are the numbers in question: 37, 38, 30, 36 and 34.Paul Rosta mug shot

Although they look like the vacancy rates from a random batch of hard-luck submarkets, these figures actually represent the ages of the young men and women selected as CPE’s 2016 Stars to Watch.

As a fellow of a certain age, I must tell you that I am deeply offended by the accomplishments of this overachieving bunch. After all, I was already attending my 10th college reunion when several of these people were still in elementary school. Among the 2016 Stars, you’ll find the head of design for a premier development firm who runs several marathons a year. Another is a specialist in the intricacies of cross-border capital flows who has worked on three continents; by the way, she’s both a trained architect and an avid triathlete.

Representing the sustainability movement is a consultant who has advised the government of Costa Rica and taught workshops for the U.S. Green Building Council, the American Institute of Architects and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. You’ll read about the manager of one of the nation’s most prominent urban industrial parks; she holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and has served as an advisor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

Individually and collectively, these people are poised, well-traveled, personable; they raise families and dedicate themselves to good causes. Yet not a single one is eligible to be teased about turning 40. (I could go on, but I think I’ve been intimidated enough for one morning.) In short, anyone who worries about the future of the industry should read our Stars to Watch cover story immediately.

Nevertheless, a couple of questions spring to mind. Commercial real estate faces stiff competition for talent, not least from the opportunities created by the technological revolution. Is the industry doing everything possible to spread the word about its richly varied career paths? For another thing, real estate professionals regularly join the fold from allied fields, which suggests that some of your best future team members are doing something else right now.

And though the industry is diversifying before our eyes, it has some distance to travel before it entirely sheds its reputation for homogeneity. To put it another way, is every company doing its best to get and keep its fair share of all the talent out there?

Like most reporters, I’m better at asking questions than answering them. But since I’m the one who brought it up, I’ll take a swing at it. My comment may be old hat, yet the hat still fits, so here goes: Even when things seem to be heading in the right direction, there’s always room for improvement.


Paul Rosta