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Preparing Real Estate Industry Leaders

In July 2012, the Urban Land Institute published the results of a survey called “Real Estate Industry Needs Preparation for CEO Succession” in Urban Land Magazine.

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Of those firms who took the survey, 89 percent indicated that they do not have an adequate CEO succession plan. Among the key findings:

  • Less than half of the respondents — 48 percent — said their firms review CEO succession plans at least annually
  • 43 percent include assessments of potential internal CEO candidates
  • 28 percent include in their succession plans some specific capabilities required for future CEO success
  • 22 percent consider their succession plans to be formal documents
  • Only 18 percent include a transition plan that maps out a transition timetable for a new CEO

One of the important elements of the W. P. Carey Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) is teaching and preparing development professionals to be industry leaders. There is no more important role.

“We want to teach students to be strategic and critical thinkers about the business of real estate, not just people who have the pragmatic skills to work in the field,” explains Mark Stapp, director of the W. P. Carey MRED program and a longtime veteran of the real estate industry. “We want them to learn what the business is really about, and how to make good decisions.”

To that end, the MRED program takes a transdisciplinary approach — teaching real estate development from all aspects, as well as design, law, construction and business — along with a new elective course designed to further enhance leadership.

The elective, Real Estate Development Business and Project Management Practicum, is a collaborative learning experience, organized with the assistance of the local NAIOP chapter, which arranged for 30 companies to take students six hours per week to learn organizational structure, business operations and decision making. This unique course combines class lectures with a meaningful experience at real estate companies, where students work with senior executive staff to learn the business of real estate.

The importance of this kind of preparation cannot be overestimated. It roots the MRED program even more into practical, real-world projects and exposes students to the leadership decisions they’ll be required to make in the future. And since the MRED class of 2012 was the first in the program’s six-year history to graduate into an expanding economy, those decisions will likely come more quickly and more often.