3 Apr

Finding a Mentor in Commercial Real Estate

April 3, 2024 /  In News /  by

There is a great deal of new information to absorb when entering the commercial real estate industry. Newcomers often get overwhelmed with how much there is to learn, but luckily, they have industry veterans who are willing to show them the lay of the land.  While there’s a lot that these veterans can teach newcomers, it’s important for them to remember that those entering the industry are bringing a fresh perspective and are shaping the future of the industry. Today we chat with Mark Hill, Senior Vice President, about intergenerational learning and mentoring within the commercial real estate industry.

The conversation below has been edited for length and clarity.

What are, in your opinion, the most important things for industry veterans to impart to newcomers?

There are many things a newcomer should remember when starting out in commercial real estate. A few suggestions are to take the time to understand the industry and be open to new ideas. Perhaps the most important thing for a newcomer is patience. This industry changes constantly from clients, markets, and outside forces. Factors such as credit environments, lease rates and opportunity for income growth can also affect the market changes.

The most important thing an industry veteran can impart to newcomers is that there is no one set way in our business – every client and every deal are different.

Additionally, you are often working on several different transactions at once and the workload may cause confusion for newcomers. It is important to think through and utilize the best approach for each client, which can also add to the overwhelm newcomers can experience. Industry veterans should take the time to help newcomers with their questions and sharing the organization skills necessary for success.


How can industry newcomers influence these seasoned experts?

I am amazed at all the new technology that our industry has implemented throughout my career – social media, email campaigns, complicated spread sheets, computer modeling, CoStar, and Zoom Prospector. I remember going on a trip with paper maps from AAA and stopping every 2 hours because we were lost. Now the Google and Waze apps not only give you directions but also tell you where the speed traps are as well as the good restaurants – very valuable information.

The industry newcomers know how to research and organize. They can take information and turn it into measurable reports that add value to the business. They can research all aspects of a potential client and even come up with personality profiles for the key decision makers. They can analyze a site and understand key aspects that helps with the transaction.

I believe the combination of “old school” relationships with the “new school” approach is a great combination for a successful business.


Do you recommend that newcomers seek out a formal mentorship, or are there other effective ways to learn from industry veterans?

I would recommend some sort of mentor program. I have had 4 mentors over my 40-year career. Each one appeared at different times, roughly every decade. They taught me business lessons, the importance of listening, technical issues, and how to be a better person.

It is most important that newcomers feel wanted and understand how their work is contributing to the overall success of the company. According to LinkedIn Learning, mentorship is rated the #1 focus area for employees. Newcomers are looking for mentorships and veterans should welcome their enthusiasm.

In larger companies, a mentorship program tends to be very formal with set meetings and agendas, while smaller companies create a program more like the buddy system. Either way, the benefits of a program are great. They include creating a learning culture, employee satisfaction, knowledge sharing, and improving company recruitment.


How has the industry changed since you entered over 40 years ago?

Technology has changed industry greatly, and Artificial Intelligence will play a much bigger role moving forward. There are already AI companies helping with market analysis and site selection. Technology has increased data available and as a result, today’s decisions are more data driven.

However, it is a combination of technology and personal interaction that will be critical in the years ahead.

Twenty-five years ago, I was explaining a sales call to one of my mentors. He asked me if I got the name of the client’s dog; I said I didn’t think to ask. He said clients buy on relationships, and the more you get to know about the client the better off you will be. Personal relationships must stay at the forefront of all transactions. It is easy to run a report or text a client or put a transaction on social media, but nothing beats the effectiveness of personal interaction.


How do you see the industry changing in the upcoming years? How should people be preparing for these shifts?

The real estate and construction industry have changed and will continue to change in the upcoming years. The Covid pandemic had a big effect on how we live and work. Questions that those in the industry must address moving forward include what do we do with all the office space that may become available?  How can it be repurposed?

In addition, there is an uncertainty of where capital is going. Construction costs and interest rates have increased dramatically. Buyers don’t want to overpay, and sellers don’t want to sell short. The market is experiencing a pause until the future becomes clearer.

I think construction firms as well as real estate developers are looking for the next niche or the next hot geographical area. States are offering incentives, upgraded infrastructure, and even employee housing. The “package” to begin a new transaction has become much more complicated. The innovative firms who can figure it out will be the winners.

About the Author

Mark brings with him over 40 years of experience to the Premier team. During his career, Mark was credited in securing key projects throughout the Midwest and the New York metropolitan area including industrial, healthcare, education, and corporate projects. This experience will enhance the services that Premier offers while finding new growth opportunities. As Premier’s Senior Vice President of Business Development he will work with all of the Premier’s Principals and Management Team.