Article appeared in the May 10, 2016 edition of Saporta Report
By Sally Riker, partner at Lowe Engineers
Working in one segment of the commercial real estate field can narrow your view of the many fascinating elements in the industry. ULI Atlanta’s Center for Leadership offers participants the opportunity to a more well-rounded vision into different market sectors, while widening perspective on issues and opportunities facing the entire region.
I was not a member of ULI until a colleague recommended I apply for the Center for Leadership, and it has been one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made. I became a ULI member when I was accepted into the CFL program, and I’ve been an active member ever since, including being day-chair for the infrastructure day, co-chairing the 2016 program and, now, chairing the Center for Leadership in 2017.
On my first day in CFL, I found the group’s energy was contagious. Being around motivated individuals on different career paths with diverse life experiences who are all passionate about numerous civic ventures – while also learning from an impressive group of top regional leaders – has truly enhanced my career more than any other experience.
I remember the 2016 Economic Development day as especially enlightening. One panel of executives from NCR, Worldpay and Invest Atlanta spoke about “Transaction Alley.” I hadn’t heard this term until they reported 70 percent of all payments in the U.S. are managed in the Atlanta region and we are the nation’s payment processing capital. Yes, Atlanta – not Silicon Valley, nor Dallas or Charlotte – is the new financial technology hub. This was only one example of how CFL opened our eyes to leadership experiences and a greater understanding of how the Atlanta region operates.
Noticing similar trends in our region, our leadership team chose “Innovation and Technology” as this year’s theme to explore how technology is changing how our region gets built and where innovative approaches can help unlock some of our challenges, whether they be infrastructure, affordable housing, or access to capital.
Our group keeps in touch quarterly with organized happy hours. Since graduating from the Center, I’ve already called upon fellow participants with work-related questions and I know these connections will last throughout my career. I always look forward to opportunities for our paths will cross.
The Center for Leadership is not all about theoretical situations and networking. Opportunities to dig into real world situations and offer our expertise, advice and suggestions include participation in mTAPs, which are mini Technical Assistance Panels – ULI Atlanta service offerings to local government, public agencies and nonprofits facing complex land use and real estate issues in our area.
I had the opportunity to work on an mTAP for Atlanta’s first Cultural District. We incorporated each of our Panel’s experiences, advice and big ideas into a presentation for the organization. Through case studies of and lessons learned from other cultural districts, we narrowed down possible locations for the district and developed the “Who, What, When and How” for the client.
If you are interested in being involved with a program that affords you the opportunity to collaborate with real estate professionals from different sectors, expand your worldview, expose you to top speakers and establish relationships with a diverse group, I encourage you to apply for the Center for Leadership today. Through presentations, panels, property tours and other activities, you’ll be exposed to different facets of real estate and the Atlanta region, while also cementing relationships with established Atlanta leaders and those on the rise.
Applications for Center for Leadership are due Friday, May 20th.
Sally Riker, F.SAME, is a graduate of the University of Georgia and is a currently active partner of Lowe Engineers, a veteran-owned small business in the City of Atlanta.