Leadership Network

Members of the ULI Northwest Center for Sustainable Leadership
Members of the ULI Northwest Center for Sustainable Leadership.

ULI offers significant opportunities for members to cultivate leadership skills and elevate their leadership profile within their own organizations, the real estate industry, and the Institute itself. In FY 2016, several existing leadership programs within ULI coalesced into a newly launched the ULI Leadership Network, which directs members to the countless leadership opportunities that exist throughout the organization to empower members to advance their careers, give back to the industry, and improve their communities.

Women’s Leadership Initiative

A signature program of the Leadership Network, the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) promotes the advancement and increases the visibility of women in leadership roles within the real estate industry and the Institute’s global networks. By the end of FY 2016, 35 local WLI chapters were active in North America, Asia, and Australia.

In FY 2016, WLI completed a ground-breaking study of women in real estate and land use careers and their ability to advance within the industry. Women and Leadership in the Real Estate and Land Use Industry surveyed more 1,200 female ULI members to reveal that while women make up one-fourth of the Institute’s membership, they account for only 14 percent of members who hold the position of chief executive officer within their companies.

A Fall Meeting panel discusses inclusive workplace cultures and other strategies that build diverse workplaces identified in recent WLI research.
Mary Anne Gilmartin, Andy Cohen, and Stephanie Wiggins discuss inclusive workplace cultures and other strategies that build diverse workplaces identified in recent WLI research.

The study also found that two-thirds of women aspire to lead their own firms and are willing to make multiple career moves to accomplish their goal. Informal approaches to leadership development like challenging work assignments, an inclusive workplace culture, and managers who coach were also identified as more valuable than formal training programs by women who responded to the survey. The report also includes six case studies of organizations with exemplary records in promoting women to leadership roles.

The WLI report deeply resonated with ULI members of all backgrounds since it demonstrated the work that still needs to be done to foster diverse and inclusive environments within real estate. More than a dozen district and national councils held events in which the report’s findings were discussed by local ULI members and industry professionals. From Hong Kong to New York to Charlotte, North Carolina, the report reached new audiences, sparking awareness of and important conservations about the need for diversity and inclusive approaches to attract and retain talent to real estate organizations. The report laid the groundwork for further examination of women and leadership roles that will take place in FY 2017. An EY-funded project will expand the survey to women real estate leaders in Asia Pacific markets.

A WLI research report found that women in the real estate industry value challenging work assignments and coaching as effective strategies for career advancement.

FY 2016 was the inaugural year for the WLI grants program to district councils. The grants supported programming that fulfills WLI’s mission to enhance the visibility of women leaders in the real estate industry. Four councils—ULI Central Florida, ULI Houston, ULI Southeast Florida/Caribbean, and ULI Toronto—received funding for programming aimed at recruiting women as members or leadership roles within ULI and promoting interest in the real estate industry among women.

In FY 2016, global logistics provider Prologis became the long-term sponsor of the WLI Fall Meeting Scholarship Program, which provides financial support, mentorship, and product council participation for women attending the Fall Meeting. Ten emerging leaders holding a diverse set of positions and professional experiences received scholarships to attend the 2015 ULI Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

District Councils’ Centers for Leadership

Members of the Women's Leadership Initiative attend a reception at the 2015 ULI Fall Meeting in San Francisco.
Members of the Women’s Leadership Initiative attend a reception at the 2015 ULI Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

The Centers for Leadership, offered by ULI Atlanta, ULI Michigan, ULI Northwest, and ULI Washington, provide immersive learning, leadership, and networking experiences. Each program concludes with a service experience intended to deliver the Institute’s mission of responsible land use at the local level.

Organized around a hands-on, practical curriculum, these programs bring together professionals from the local land use industry for a six-to-nine-month engagement. Participants, who represent public, private, and nonprofit sectors, learn about local and regional market and policy trends influencing real estate, engage with senior leaders and one another on development best practices, and help a local community or organization solve a land use challenge through a Technical Assistance Program panel. In FY 2016, 110 land use professionals graduated from the four Centers for Leadership programs. Learn more about ULI Michigan’s work with the city of Dearborn to revitalize the site of a historic and vacant hotel property in Priorities. 

ULI NEXT Global hosts roundtable discussions at the 2016 ULI Fall Meeting in Philadelphia.
ULI NEXT Global hosts roundtable discussions at the 2016 ULI Fall Meeting in Philadelphia.

ULI NEXT Global and Larson Leadership Initiative

ULI NEXT Global, a group aimed at identifying future industry leaders who are currently between the ages of 35 and 45, continued to develop content and leadership development opportunities for this age cohort throughout FY 2016. At the 2015 ULI Fall Meeting in San Francisco and the 2016 ULI Spring Meeting in Philadelphia, ULI NEXT Global developed programming tailored to mid-career professionals transitioning to leadership roles and assuming greater responsibilities within their organizations. The ULI NEXT Global executive committee organized panels on disruptive technologies, succession planning, and managing change in leadership styles from one generation to the next. Member-only roundtables created an intimate atmosphere for candid conversations and lively discussions around specific topics.

In FY 2016, the Larson Leadership Initiative partnered with WLI on the Leadership Summit, a breakfast program at the 2016 ULI Spring Meeting in Philadelphia; the initiative also oversaw the popular Mentor Mart program at the 2015 ULI Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

Real Estate Entrepreneur Program

ULI’s Real Estate Entrepreneur Program empowers participants to develop the technical knowledge and leadership skills necessary to operate their own development firms. The program attracts land use professionals interested in transitioning to the role of developers as well as current development professionals seeking to improve their business operations and development product. The program takes a comprehensive approach to sharing the fundamentals of real estate entrepreneurship—from project finance and entitlements to planning and design to marketing and leasing.

In FY 2016, the program delivered a series of content-rich learning experiences, including a two-day forum focused on the role that real estate entrepreneurs have played in revitalizing Rust Belt cities and a study tour of small-scale, infill development projects in the Scottsdale, Arizona. Programs feature ULI Foundation governors and other senior ULI leaders as guest speakers who impart lessons from their careers to a new generation of real estate entrepreneurs. More than 200 individuals attended real estate entrepreneur programs in FY 2016. In support of continued professional development and education, the Leadership Network also offers online, on-demand courses in real estate fundamentals. In FY 2016, nearly 2,000 individuals participated in 35 courses online.

Learn more about the ULI Leadership Network.