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SIOR Global President Robert Thornburgh On How The Best Brokers Get Their Competitive Edge


This article was republished with permissions and originally appeared on Bisnow on March 14, 2019. Click here to view the original article.

The CRE brokerage industry is changing rapidly, and the best way to maintain relevance is to keep pace with today’s technology and the emerging trends that surround it, according to Robert G. Thornburgh, global president of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors.

“To stay ahead in this fast-moving world, brokers need to be open to the next big ideas in the industry,” Thornburgh said. “Tomorrow’s leading brokers will be the ones who have embraced reinvention and technology early on, and who constantly push themselves to seek out the right events, people and related culture that challenge prevailing thinking.”

For Thornburgh and other members and honorees of SIOR, those events, people and culture all come together annually at the SIOR Spring World Conference, which provides educational content and unique networking opportunities geared toward future-minded dealmaking in the office and industrial real estate space. This year’s SWC will offer various new opportunities, Thornburgh said.

Bisnow sat down with Thornburgh to discuss the future of SIOR and CRE, advice for tomorrow’s leading brokers and highlights from the event coming up April 10-13 in Washington, D.C.

Bisnow: What does the future of SIOR look like?

Thornburgh: Extremely bright. Our leadership team just finalized a multiyear strategic planning process, positioning SIOR to play an even larger, more substantial role in our industry throughout the 21st century and beyond. This touches everything from thought leadership, advanced education, innovation, to mentoring the next generation of CRE professionals.

Bisnow: What do you see for the future of the industry, and how have you seen it evolve?

Thornburgh: The days where we solely focused on the real estate are long gone. We are, by every definition, advisers, assisting our clients and helping them navigate nearly every aspect of the office and industrial real estate brokerage process, and pushing to gain the experience and expertise to go beyond the old models of transactional brokerage. Today’s real estate professionals must be equipped to respond to these demands if they expect to successfully compete at a higher level and achieve smarter outcomes for the clients they serve.

Bisnow: What are the biggest questions you expect will be addressed at this year's conference?

Thornburgh: This year’s SWC programming will cover an array of topics from the current state of the market to the latest technology, industry best practices for efficiency, 1031 exchanges, UpREIT transactions, opportunity zones, development trends, and how the disruptive demographics of an aging society, social trends and tech will shape future cities and urban innovations.  Beyond that, SIOR conferences always start with the quality of the people and the close relationships built over the years. It’s here that we exchange meaningful, thought-provoking discussions on our industry, and ultimately, how we do more business.

Bisnow: Is there a single session you are most looking forward to?

Thornburgh: It would be difficult to pick only one, but certainly I’m looking forward to hearing Robin Chase, the founder and former CEO of Zipcar, as she talks about the underlying principles that enabled a startup to transform an industry. She is one of the pioneers of the sharing economy.

Bisnow: What advice would you give a young broker starting out in your field?

Thornburgh: The brokers at the top of this field are maintaining a focus on reinvention and challenging the status quo. I would ask yourself: Where am I finding the right events, people and related culture that aspire to achieve best-in-class work and question prevailing thinking? Stay focused on the future and your place in it — and never hesitate to invest in quality continued education and networking initiatives that will keep you ahead of the competition.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and SIOR. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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