CCIM partners with GCU business school on new mentorship program

The Central Arizona chapter of CCIM, which touts itself as commercial real estate’s gold standard for professional achievement, announced a new mentorship program for students of the Colangelo School of Business at Grand Canyon University.

“I think what everybody wants long-term — and our goal as an organization — is to get them to work,” said Jenette Bennett, president of CCIM’s Central Arizona chapter. “Every mentor, everyone involved in our program has been around for a really long time, knows everybody in town, and the goal is to get an internship, to get hired on as a runner, to get hired on as part of the team.”

Bennett was named chapter president earlier this year and previously served as vice president — both volunteer positions. For her day job, she serves as a first vice president at Kidder Matthews, the largest independent commercial real estate (CRE) firm on the West Coast.

Bennett said she has been planning to work on mentorship programs for a while now.

“It’s just something that I felt strongly about that was important to me,” she said. “In our October national CCIM conference last year, my CEO, Jeff Lyon — the CEO of Kidder Matthews — spoke about the shrinking CRE workforce, and it’s just known in the industry that fewer and fewer people are getting into brokerage.”

Bennett said the main problem is that young people are not considering CRE as a potential career path, and the first step to remedy that is to reach out to high school and undergraduate college students.

“A lot of the effort in our chapter in years past had been with the master’s programs — the MRED at ASU, for example,” she said. “Knowing the numbers of new brokers, the lack of outreach sometimes to young people, and… being a woman, I wanted to make sure that young ladies knew this was an option for them. It just seemed like a great time to reach out to some undergrads.”

The Colangelo College of Business at GCU, named after professional sports mogul and local philanthropist Jerry Colangelo, opened in January 2019. Bennett said she approached Colangelo at CCIM’s annual Economic Forecast the same month.

“[CCIM has] a Colangelo Impact Award, and Mr. Colangelo attends our forecast, and he selects someone in the community to receive that award for their contribution,” Bennett said. “I took a chance to talk to him about my idea then, and he told me who to call, which was Randy Gibb, the dean of the College of Business.”

Bennett said she constructed a curriculum for the fall semester and presented the program to Gibb and finance chair Mark Jacobsen, who also teaches finance and accounting, and they liked the idea.

The mentorship program officially started in September, with seven mentors and 50 mentees split into teams.

Each mentor is a certified commercial investment member (CCIM) and an active broker. As part of the program, the mentors assign each student a Phoenix-area property complete with income, expenses and other important financial information.

Bennett said CRE professionals use an Annual Property Operating Data (APOD) spreadsheet to input all relevant property data, including market assumptions, finance assumptions, disposition values (also known as foreclosure values), capitalization rate and internal rate of return (IRR).

“We’re going to take them through that spreadsheet, and it’s a real-world case study that we worked as a broker,” she said.

In October, the students use their APOD spreadsheet to create a broker opinion of value, also known as a broker’s price opinion, which gives a data-driven estimate for how much a property is worth.

“That involves looking at sales comps, leasing comps… we have a template for that as well,” Bennett said. “We’ll provide the comps and the template to the students, and they’ll have to complete their opinion of value.”

Also in October, CCIM holds a career day where students can meet professionals from every industry related to CRE, including architecture, interior design, construction, contracting, lending and more.

In November, students will use their opinions of value for the assigned properties to create listing pitches to present to the property sellers. The pitch explains why the owners should sell the property and why the broker — in this case, the student — is the best person for the job.

Finally, in December, once the students have (hopefully) won their listings, they present the sales offering memoranda for their properties to CCIM holiday party attendees.

Bennett said a lot of the students at the Colangelo College of Business are interested in being entrepreneurs, but CCIM will help them whatever their goals may be.

“Our mission is to provide this world-class education that CCIM has created, and then once you’re there you provide the networking and you do the deals,” she said.

There is a lot of responsibility that comes with working in CRE, so the industry seeks people who are invested in the “big picture of growing Arizona,”  Bennett said

“There’s a lot of vision; a lot of care and thought goes into the transactions and into new development,” she said.

This mentorship program has been a long time coming — almost 16 years, according to Bennett. The sooner students join, the sooner they can understand CRE and begin making an impact on the state’s — and their own — future, she said.

CRE is still on the rise after taking a big hit during the Great Recession, but the United States system of property ownership is second to none, Bennett said.

“I think that property ownership in general has been the keystone to all American prosperity,” she said. “Part of commercial real estate, too, is really building our community, like the things that Jerry Colangelo has done over the years.”

It’s more than just real estate transactions, she said — CRE is ethical development with an eye for the long-term vision of cities and states and what they need in terms of water systems, electrical infrastructure and beyond.

“Just the vision of real estate has shaped our state,” Bennett said. “Every industry, everything we have to offer here is really based on that strong real estate market.”

Graham Bosch

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