Industry's Top Practitioners Inspire Cutting-Edge Professional Excellence
By Peggy Binzel, CEO, CoreNet Global
A primary focus of CoreNet Global has been promoting industry learning and knowledge sharing across the five global regions where our 7,000 members are based. So, as summer began to wind down earlier this year, the CoreNet Global team went to school. Harvard, to be exact.
We spent two days on campus, at the Harvard University Faculty Club, where we were steeped in tradition and immersed in the future. There, we viewed presentations made by applicants for the CoreNet Global Global Innovator's Award. Now three years old, the Global Innovator's Award (begun by IDRC) honors innovation in corporate real, estate and this year's entrants, finalists and winners exemplify the reason the award was created.
For example, how will the world rid itself of all the technological waste we are currently creating? Every time we install a new computer, get the latest cell phone or PDA, we are discarding the old ones. Many of the materials in these devices are hazardous, and often - did you know this - end up being dismantled by indigent residents near the South China Sea.
In Oakland County, Michigan, there is an answer. REAP2, developed by Oakland County, is an innovative solution to the growing problem of how to safely and cost-effectively dispose of e-waste - by properly dismantling and recycling these materials.
In Tampa, Florida, what to do with an aging, outmoded, 1 million square-foot shopping mall that sat with looming vacancies? Public and private sector leaders there converted the mall into Netp@rk.tampabay - a high tech office park that is 80 percent leased and home to more than 3,000 employees.
As we are engaged in the practice of corporate real estate, particularly in difficult economic times, we are reminded of challenges, similar to these examples, every day. How to redevelop aging properties, remain flexible and continue to meet our employees ever evolving needs in the workplace? The answers represent a continuous educational process.
Each year, the Global Innovator's Award program, which is sponsored by Equis and Gensler, grows in the number of participants and in the value of the lessons that each applicant has to teach. The result is a shared learning experience that demonstrates the best of what a global association can offer its members.
This year there were 53 nominations, more than we have ever had before. From AT&T Broadband to Toyota Motor Sales, from Capitol One to UPS, from ANZ Banking Group to Sun Microsystems - all had developed practices that improved efficiency, saved resources and furthered the corporate real estate profession.
From these 53 nominations, 12 finalists were selected to present at Harvard.
These 12 finalists were Cigna, Equity Office, Fidelity Investments, Grubb & Ellis, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Miller Hughes Associates, The Netp@ark.tampabay consortium, Oakland County (Michigan), Sun Microsystems, U.S. Army and the U.S. General Services Administration.
After the presentations were made, judges - representing the top thought leaders in corporate real estate - deliberated.
All 12 finalists were invited onstage at our Global Summit in San Diego in November. From the 12 finalists, four winners were selected for their innovative practices: Cigna Corp., Sun Microsystems, Grubb & Ellis and Miller Hughes Associates.
Cigna Corp.'s E*Work program has embedded cultural change in work and the workplace, boosting performance, while driving down costs and staff turnover. Sun Microsystems' iwork program optimizes Sun's use of workspace and technology resources to provide greater flexibility and efficiency to employees.
Grubb & Ellis' has developed EPP Web, an Internet-based comprehensive emergency planning solution. And Miller Hughes Associates' sustainable urban regeneration methodology enables companies to grow shareholder value by adding to, or restoring, the strength of the communities in which they operate.
As we returned home from Boston last August, what struck me most, about all who participated in our program, was that for two days we sat on the very cutting-edge of corporate real estate. The applicants were all notable for their innovation and they will be teaching us for years to come how to do things better and more efficiently.
The amount of learning that took place was immeasurable - even by Harvard standards.