Man in suit poses with woman in suit at a conference
Nathan S. Collier Master of Science in Real Estate Student Andrea Johansson and VP of Real Estate and Development at Concept Companies Seth Lane.

Trends Conference provides transformational experience

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By Andrea Johansson (MSRE ’20)

The Trends Conference assembles annually and this year the conversation did not disappoint. Trends brings together professionals that may practice in vastly different areas within the commercial real estate sector, but for two days, they congregate to discuss overarching topics that effect national and global economic trends. Within that room you are just a few degrees away from every key player in global commercial real estate. This year, the conference began just one week before the COVID-19 virus seriously began impacting the US economy. Topics like these are exactly why this conference is so important – what’s the sensitivity to our business.

MSRE student Andrea Johansson looks at the Trends Conference program with Robyn Huber

Johansson with VP of Business Development at Diaz Fritz Group General Contractors Robyn Huber.

As a Nathan S. Collier Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) graduate student, my growth and application of my degree are accelerated by being involved in conversations that take place at Trends. The three breakout sessions hosted on Thursday were titled: LIVE (residential/multi-family), WORK (office/industrial) and PLAY (hospitality/retail). I attended the LIVE breakout session and was energized by the group’s ability to gracefully debate potential solutions and shortfalls in housing affordability. Those who attended that breakout session are on the forefront of this affordability issue, ideas generated in discussions like these will incept change.

Thursday evening, a group of current MSRE women students, past MSRE women students and current women professionals and advisory board members, shared a lovely dinner and discussed change in the commercial real estate industry and how women play a part. This was an opportunity to discuss career challenges and opportunities and of course, have fun. The take-away from this dinner is that being a woman in a male-dominated industry is not a challenge, it is an opportunity to bring something new to table.

On Friday, the abbreviated topics were, housing affordability, the consumers need for experience and the shared space economy. These topics are largely being driven by millennials, which is a cohort I represent. As millennials begin to represent a larger proportion of the global population, owners of commercial real estate are having to adapt to millennials demands. The desire for experience in brick-and-mortar retail and the willingness to share space in major MSAs are millennial trends that should continue in the foreseeable future.

As I write this, I am learning and working from home – one week ago I was on campus or at my office desk. What trends will come out of COVID-19 global pandemic? Only time will tell. This is sure to be a discussion at Trends 2021.