The Inaugural Colgate Real Estate Council Conference

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The inaugural Colgate Real Estate Council Conference took place in New York City on January 15, 2020. The event gathered alumni leaders in the industry to discuss current topics in commercial real estate. Nearly 200 people attended, including students on the annual Colgate Career Services Real Estate Immersion Trip, which provides an opportunity for undergraduates to learn about the industry from alumni.

Students arrived at the conference after a full day of panel discussions with alumni from various roles in real estate. “Our alumni have been extremely generous with their time and resources, offering hard-earned insights on their successes in Commercial Real Estate,” Sam Wittmann ’20 said.

Moderated by B6 Real Estate Advisors CEO Paul Massey ’82, the first alumni panel of the evening — The Sharing Economy: Agility, Co-working, and Shared Workspaces — offered perspectives from both workspace providers as well as owners and brokers. Allison Stoloff ’06 of Knotel and Jenna Gregory ’11 of Industrious shared how each of their organizations distinguish themselves from the WeWork co-working model.

The second alumni panel, Real Estate Tech and Innovation: Convergence between People, Technology, and the Built World, included a diverse array of speakers discussing how technology solutions are impacting real estate across design, construction, leasing, operations, and beyond. James Nelson ’98 moderated this conversation, and Tama Huang ’93, chief innovation officer of Cohn Reznick, gave perspective to the continuous evolution of the real estate industry shifting from occupancy to utilization and now to experience as the focal points of innovation.

The evening was capped off with a conversation between Kevin Danehy ’83, P’16,’19,’21, global head of corporate development at Brookfield Property Group and Ric Clark, managing partner, Brookfield Asset Management, and chairman at Brookfield.

Clark’s tenure at Brookfield has been filled with challenges and opportunities. In recent years, he has led the revitalization of downtown Manhattan with an emphasis on placemaking, which has propelled Brookfield’s growth and the rebranding of Brookfield Place adjacent to the World Trade Center. 

Taking up the topic of flexible workspaces, Clark suggested moving beyond the landlord-tenant construct, instead thinking of clients as strategic partners. Clark said, “We need to help to make their businesses more efficient — someone else is going to do it if we don’t.”

While the audience of professionals and undergraduates pondered the future of the industry, alumni like Peter Smith ’10, senior vice president of market development at the International WELL Building Institute, couldn’t help but reflect on the professional network’s past and its impact on the present moment. “The Colgate Real Estate Council continues to grow and evolve to serve as a resource for current students, recent graduates, and alumni alike,” Smith said. “This year’s inaugural conference marks a significant milestone and is a demonstration of the power of the Colgate connection.”

The Colgate Real Estate Council is one of ten Colgate Professional Networks. To learn more, visit colgate.edu/networks.