Conference Recap: Urban Land Institute (ULI) Conference

by Jenae Valentine, RMA Economic Development Assistant

Jenae attended the ULI ‘Strategic Planning and Implementation for the Small Scale Developer’ conference June 23-24 in Washington, DC. The conference is a part of the ULI Real Estate Entrepreneur Program and attracted professionals from across country in various sectors of development. Strategy sessions addressed how to thrive throughout each cycle of real estate, methods to raise capital, data collection, and executing core competence. Numerous panel discussions were held on leadership, lessons learned during the real estate shift, and opportunity for future development.

As a working professional in the real estate industry I gained a wealth of knowledge from the conference that I can implement today and in the future. The biggest take away for me was to pay attention to the signs in the real estate market and have a strategic plan in place for each shift of the cycle. It’s important to periodically reevaluate your company’s strategic plan to ensure it addresses market trends and growth within the company over the next 10-20 years. The ideal time to hold a companywide strategic planning session is outside of the office environment at a retreat.

Another big takeaway I received was to quantify your productivity. It’s important to not only be aware of how much time and energy you spend working on projects, but have a system in place that measures your productivity so that you can adjust as needed moving forward. The book ‘Peter Principle’ was brought into discussion as the books focus is to know what you don’t know. This is important because it allows you to identify the areas where you are weak and need to grow.

I really found the panel discussions to be invaluable. It was inspiring to hear from leaders in the real estate development community talk about success, failure and creativity. One of the panelist shared a presentation he made to the board of the Philadelphia 76ers, a professional basketball team. As a way to make the presentation more interactive he created a banner. He took an interesting approach by stating “We’d Never Done A…..” on the banner. This portion of the presentation highlighted various projects where his company did not have the initial expertise but the projects turned out to be successful because of what experience they did have. The banner approach aligned with the sports theme, encouraged participation from board members and was a creative approach to highlighting his company’s experience. He encouraged everyone to think outside of the box and shared that his creativity won him the business.

ULI Conference

There was one statement I found to be very powerful during the conference. One of the panelists’ encouraged everyone to “Address what you ponder.” While the statement was simple, it spoke volumes. As I move forward in my career I will take that quote with me. I believe it’s important to investigate whatever captivates you as it may prove to be helpful in the future. I had a wonderful time connecting and learning from other professionals in the industry. Every ULI event I have attended has been informative and I look forward to attending many more in the future.