Guest post by Vik Bangia, MCR, CEO Verum Consulting, LLC

Last week, CoreNet Global issued digital credentials in the form of badges like this one. The badges acknowledge member achievements in various areas such as years of membership, faculty roles, volunteer roles, and different types of professional designations earned through the association.

My recognition was for “Top Rated Faculty”, an award given to learning faculty who consistently receive excellent seminar evaluation ratings from professional designation program participants. The criteria is: “subject matter expertise in the specific area of specialization, and demonstrated ability to interactively present course materials, facilitate small group discussions, and effectively integrate professional experiences with course materials.”

It is indeed a great honor to receive this award many times over the years.

I share this recognition with several of my peers — top-rated CoreNet Global faculty members who give generously of their time and talent to help others grow and excel in this profession. I know how my commitment to teaching at CoreNet Global, at universities, online, and directly to my clients has paid me back personally and how it has helped others.

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Professional Associations Matter

CoreNet Global (and its predecessor NACORE International) formed and informed my career as I progressed from a newly minted Corporate Real Estate planning analyst in 1991 to the Director of Corporate Real Estate for that same Fortune 500 company by 1998. They were important to my role as Global Head of Real Estate for a Fortune 250 company in 2013 when I was also nominated to serve on the CoreNet Global Board of Directors. In fact, CoreNet Global has provided the environment for every one of my career moves. Every job change opportunity, except one, came from a relationship made through this professional association.

I can’t separate myself from the professional association I grew up with. It’s in my DNA.

CoreNet Global has provided the environment for every one of my career moves. Every job change opportunity, except one, came from a relationship made through this professional association.

Starting out in the profession in 1991, I went through the Master of Corporate Real Estate program rather quickly. I joined NACORE around 1993, and by 1996 I had my MCR designation (as well as my MBA from Pepperdine University). And at that time, I was approached to join the NACORE faculty. I initially taught a Basic Finance Course, then a Surplus Property Disposition course, and then in 2004, I began to teach the CoreNet Global MCR course in Real Estate Outsourcing and have taught it ever since. And occasionally, I have the honor to substitute teach in other CoreNet Global professional development seminars (special shout out to Ken Ashley and Kitty Henry).

I really enjoy teaching – not simply to teach, but because I learn so much from seminar attendees and from my peers. A professional association excels when there is a vibrant transfer of knowledge up, down, and across. It’s becoming more important for professional associations to innovate and maintain their relevance during these COVID times because platforms like LinkedIn and other competing industry associations have generated enormous content and driven it to people who are working from home due to the pandemic.

It’s quite a challenge to go from a destination-based value proposition to one that delivers anywhere. 

Thankfully, as far as professional education is concerned, CoreNet Global has done a wonderful job pivoting to online delivery of professional development seminars (MCR, SLCR, QPCR) and kept them engaging and vibrant. The team I teach with includes Jessica Pernicone of JLL and Francisco Acoba of EY and we’ve found the online platform to be almost as seamless as teaching in person. While we certainly miss the camaraderie of holding our Corporate Real Estate Outsourcing seminars in person, we all agree the virtual approach works, and it works very well. 

Networking Matters

Networking during these COVID times has been a concern to me and many of my peers in the industry — those who rely heavily on personal relationships with clients, and colleagues as a conduit and source of new business opportunities. This includes my company, Verum Consulting, as well as several members of my OutsourceUSA network.

For independent corporate real estate, facilities management, and workplace strategy consultants like me, networking is core to our livelihood. There’s never been a more critical time to innovate and develop new and creative ideas to enhance the networking aspect of membership in a distanced environment. While learning programs are easier to pivot to an online format, networking and relationship building is much harder. How do you foster the personal bonds and social ‘stickiness’ that comes with celebrating our common and related industry roles face-to-face?

CoreNet Global summits are always replete with hugs, high fives, raising of toasts, and incredible sense of community. It’s like a family reunion. Is that even possible while wearing masks and social distancing? Is that possible online? What if we’re looking at a longer term challenge with the pandemic than we are experiencing today? What if there’s another pandemic yet to come? How does that impact the strategy going forward? What are all the scenarios and contingencies?

People Matter

Taking this issue to the personal level, in conversations with some of my colleagues, a bigger challenge seems to be looming: family obligations and other pandemic-driven changes at home and at work are making once routine travel decisions optional, or worse, impossible.

Even if we start going back to the office, ‘non-essential’ travel may be a permanent casualty of the corporate perquisite program. How will associations pivot? Is it through virtual reality, digital twin technology? A combination of in-person and virtual formats? There are no easy answers, lots of complicated questions, and lots of room for innovation.

For many, family obligations and other pandemic-driven challenges are making once routine travel decisions difficult, if not impossible.

So, this badge matters to me. CoreNet Global and my other professional associations extraordinarily matter to me. My co-instructors and faculty peers matter to me. My industry colleagues matter to me. My clients matter to me. Health and safety (yours AND mine) matters to me. And I’m hoping we all come out on the other side of this pandemic with a greater appreciation for what matters most by what we’ve experienced from those who matter most.

Maybe we will all get a badge for perseverance. If you read this whole article, thanks, you’ve earned your badge!

Vik Bangia is CEO of Verum Consulting, a Minneapolis-based corporate real estate strategy and outsourcing advisory consulting practice and OutsourceUSA – a network of independent real estate firms, all focused on the employee-centric future of work.