Making the Most of an Unconventional Convention

October 7, 2020
Written by: Elizabeth Krol, CREW Boston
CREW New York members meet for a virtual happy hour during the convention. Members had the opportunity for business networking with time set aside for Coffee Talk and multiple Happy Hour sessions to choose from.

CREW Network hosted an “unconventional convention” Sept. 15-17, 2020, which brought together more than 1,300 global leaders in commercial real estate. While the first CREW Network virtual convention was new and innovative in so many ways, the core elements of what makes CREW Network unique and special were evident. Of paramount importance, an intentional focus on business and professional development were at the heart of every session. Multiple opportunities to reconnect with friends and develop new relationships were omnipresent throughout the convention.

The convention blasted off with a soaring rendition of the song Come Alive from The Greatest Showman, sung by eight talented CREW Network members. A true sense of celebration that we are together, even while physically distanced, was conveyed by CEO Wendy Mann in her welcome remarks. CREW Network President Christine Gorham reminded us to make lemonade out of the many lemons we receive during this unprecedented time.

The first general session, Riches to Rags to Revolution, was a special presentation featuring Revathi Roy, one of Fortune India’s 2019 50 Most Powerful Women. Roy pioneered Asia’s first all women-run cab service in 2007, solving India’s last mile problem, and employing and empowering underprivileged women.

Revathi Roy, pioneer of Asia's first cab service, tells her story during the first General Session on day one of the convention.

Steve Weikal of the MIT Center for Real Estate led a mega session later in the day called Innovation, Technology and the Future of Real Estate, exploring the ongoing digital transformation taking place in the real estate industry. Concurrently, another mega session about the workforce of 2030, led by Shirley Davis of SDS Global Enterprises, Inc., discussed the transformation of work, workers and the workplace of the future.

Virtual project tours provided a window into significant development projects by member companies. On day one, members explored Parkville Market in Hartford, Connecticut, a 20,000 sq. ft hub featuring restaurants, a bar, a specialty grocery store, event spaces and retailers. Day two included Recovery and the State of the Global Economy, a market forecast by Mary Ludgin; breakout sessions on healthcare and multifamily; and a virtual project tour of One Chicago, a mixed-use, luxury condo.

On day three, the general session Celebrating CREW and Bringing your “A” Game focused on recognizing CREW members for their accomplishments and a special message from CREW Network Foundation scholarship recipients. One of the breakout sessions covered COVID-19’s impact on the construction industry and how it has required firms to adapt, and another discussed venture capital companies and how online platforms are shifting to accommodate brick-and-mortar facilities. Conversation Corners broke down 1031 Exchange laws into understandable terms, and also focused on the topic of space and structures, and how organizations need to plan for the future of their workplaces.

Autumn Tomlin, 2020 CREW Network Foundation scholarship recipient, is featured in a video message during the convention with fellow recipients discussing the role the scholarship will have in their education. Tomlin is pursuing a career in architecture.

The mega session Disrupt Your Leadership Superpower was dedicated to female disrupters and how to achieve career dreams while paving the path for other women, and The Year that Changes Everything went into depth about how 2020 has permanently reshaped and transformed the real estate world.

Keen observations by actively engaged attendees reflected the benefits of a virtual convention format, including small and large group discussions to collaborate and learn from others across a wide geographic footprint, highlighting consistent trends as well as regional variations. Sessions were hosted by CREW Network sponsor partners such as Walmart Realty, Bentall Green Oak and LightBox, whose senior management welcomed attendees to sessions and networking events. A generous sense of collaboration was welcomed and supported by all.

Convention always provides a forum to help CRE professionals grow and develop in their careers, yet this year also provided much needed support during this unusual time. A generous sense of collaboration was welcome and supported by all. Adaptation is a new motto embraced by CREW Network for the future. As CREW Network President-Elect Tiffany English shared, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf!”

While we missed the physical connection of reuniting with one another, the virtual convention provided a much needed and appreciated opportunity to connect. Now, more than ever, we know we can count on our CREW. We’ve got your back!

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Elizabeth Krol
 

Elizabeth Krol is national client manager for Partner Engineering and Science, Inc., and is both a Professional Geologist (PG) and an ASTM designated Environmental Professional (EP). She provides comprehensive, expedited transactional support services for real estate, legal and financial service companies nationwide. Krol is an active member of CREW Boston and immediate past delegate to CREW Network.

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