An empty road stretches into the distance through the American West.
ULI’s partnership forum for young leaders
Some professional organizations have the foresight to funnel resources into mentoring young leaders for the sake of grooming the next generation of their respective industry as well as securing future involvement in the organization. According to ULI Arizona members, few organizations do it as well as the Partnership Forum. ULI Arizona’s Partnership Forum pairs a mentor with about 10 professionals under the age of 35 and is one of the highly touted programs of its kind in the Valley with more than 120 participants.
Mentors commit three years to the program, receiving a new “class” of professionals each of those years. The young professionals, led by a group leader charged with coordinating meetings and project tours, meet at the beginning of the year to discuss industry and career issues they’d like to address. Monthly meetings and the program is largely led by each group’s collective goals.
Brian Rosella, vice president of Land Services at Cassidy Turley, has co-chaired ULI Arizona’s Partnership Forum for eight years. Speaking from personal experience, he refers to the program as the “jewel” for ULI and leadership in other facets of the organization. Since joining ULI and the Partnership Forum, he has traveled all over the country and to Canada for ULI-related meetings.
“I think it fills the need for young professionals in the land use and real estate industry who don’t have a mechanism or person in their organization who will give them training or mentorship, formally or informally,” says Rosella.
“The ULI Partnership Forum is the real deal, the mentors commit to really being there 24/7 for these younger leaders,” says Jordan Rose, the president and founder of Rose Law Group, who is in her second year of mentoring. She compares the program to Young Presidents’ Organization, calling it “the most successful peer leadership program in the world.”
“Arizona is the capital of real estate development and there are so many paths a hard-charging bright person can take to success,” Rose says. “The mentorship program gives these emerging superstars the chance to really vet the various options that present themselves in a totally confidential setting with both the mentor and their peers, which leads to life-changing and, I hope, good decision making.”
Rose says the groups become close during their monthly meetings. Mentees in her group changed jobs, got married and had kids. When it came time for Rose to purchase the office building that houses her law firm, she hired one of her mentees, a financial analyst, to aid in the process. Rosella, too, has been mentored by clients, such as Everest Holding’s Joe Blackbourn and Paradigm Private Equity Holdings’ Steve LaTerra.
“I was also surprised by how open and honest my groups have been and how long-lasting friendships and business associations can be formed sometimes by and between competitors,” notes third-year mentor and Steve LaTerra.
As tends to be the case, the distinction between student and teacher can be a two-way street.
“Every year, I learn as much as the members, or more,” says DMB President and Partnership Forum mentor Charley Freericks. “The other benefit for me is the connection to our next generation of leaders. They are learning to work in a much different environment than the world that we grew up in and it’s an opportunity for me to learn about the tools they are using to be successful.”
Reflecting on one of the more surprising moments during his tenure as a mentor, Freericks says, “One of my favorites was when we had a group of Baby Boomers to the group and we had a great discussion on work ethics, habits, definitions of success, etc. It was the first time I saw the generational divide live.”
“I was thoroughly inspired by so many of the mentees’ drive to excellence,” says Rose. “Watching that reminded me that each day I can do better than the day before.”
Walton Development and Management Planning and Development Manager, Todd Severson, a second-year mentee and group leader, says the willingness of mentors to share their failings as openly as their successes has been surprising.
“Many elements of real estate cannot be taught in a classroom, but are better learned through life experience,” says Severson, adding later, “[Mentors’ ups and downs of their personal careers and real estate ventures] are a reminder to us young professionals that a career is built out of successes and failures, giving us confidence to pursue all aspects of real estate.”