Amy Chisholm

The economy is turning around for commercial real estate. We had record attendance at [the Buildings Owners and Managers Association (BOMA)] 2012 conference in Seattle. In 2013, we’ll be in San Diego, and we’re expecting those numbers to hold. Our association will be turning 106 years old in 2013, and our conference is held every year in June. It really is a can’t-miss event for anyone involved in the commercial real-estate industry. We have 40 to 50 different education sessions occurring during the three-day conference that are led by top industry experts as well as speakers outside of the industry who have particular expertise in leadership or career management.

The education sessions at the annual conference are broken down into five major tracks. The first is sustainability and energy efficiency, which is about creating and sustaining high-performance buildings. We have an operations track that focuses on ways to reduce costs to improve net operating income; it also includes engineering and maintenance. Another track is centered on tenant retention and tenant relations. The sessions in that track cover ways to improve your tenant relationships and the importance of retaining tenants. Then we have a track that looks at leadership and career development. It deals with individual career growth and development, and how to lead your company to success and be the best you can be. And our final track focuses on asset management and portfolio performance.


Title Vice President of Education and Meetings
Organization Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA)
Industry Commercial real estate and property management
Education BS Central Michigan University
Age 44
First job Alumni relations for a small law school in Concord, NH
Mantra “Time waits for no one”
Hidden talent Tremendous knowledge of geography
Definition of leadership ”Innovation. Being at the forefront and being the creative mind behind solutions.”

Quite a bit of what we’re focusing on these days is next-generation leadership and how to recruit and retain the best talent out there. There is sort of a generation gap in the commercial real estate industry right now where we aren’t bringing in as many young professionals as we’re going to need to replace people as they retire. So there’s a focus on reaching out to the younger generation of professionals in trying to bring them into the fold, and how best to communicate with them and manage them. We’re also dealing right now with the changing role of the property manager. Owners and building managers today are looking for people who have accounting skills, because there’s a great deal of financial management that goes on with property management now. Commercial real estate professionals also need to have basic knowledge of how buildings work, along with the different smart technologies that are available.

BOMA’s leadership in energy efficiency and sustainability goes back several years. We’ve been awarded the Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award for the last six years running, and in 2009 we received the Energy Star Climate Protection Award. For years now, we’ve lobbied on Capitol Hill to ensure that voluntary energy-efficiency programs are encouraged and mandated and are not implemented without offsetting initiatives. We’ve partnered with the Department of Energy to launch the Commercial Real Estate Energy Alliance. Back in 2007, we launched the 7-Point Challenge, which called on the industry to realize a 30 percent savings in energy use by 2012. In 2006, we launched the BOMA Energy Efficiency Program, which we affectionately refer to as BEEP. It’s a major educational initiative that teaches important low-cost or no-cost operating strategies for all aspects of energy efficiency. And then there’s our Sustainable Operations Series, which is a complimentary webinar series that supports BEEP and teaches the implementation of sustainable practices in commercial properties.

BOMA is working had to facilitate knowledge transfer within our industry. We have a careers and real estate task force that’s made up of volunteer members, and they put together complementary sessions for our conference each year. We also have a ‘student day’ at the annual event, which we’re expanding into a ‘career day’ for the 2013 conference because in addition to college students, we’re inviting returning veterans who are interested in commercial real estate to attend this year. There’s no registration fee for the career day, and it will include programming about careers in commercial real estate. We’ll also be assigning mentors to all of the participants in this program. The mentors will stick with participants throughout the day, taking them through the tradeshow and to our general sessions. They’ll also attend the luncheons with them and introduce them to people. The event is designed to help people understand what this industry is all about and the many different career paths that are available.