Meet our REmmy 2016 CRE Team of the Year

At our November REmmys event, First American and Cushman & Wakefield were recognized as CRE Team of the Year. In this Q&A, VP, Corporate Director of Corporate Real Estate for First American Elise Luckham shares more on her experience with First American and thoughts on the industry. 

What are the greatest challenges in the CRE industry today?

One of the universal challenges that all CRE organizations face is connecting the real estate strategy with the business unit objectives; making the real estate strategy meaningful, relevant, and valuable to business line leaders. Developing strong partnerships with business line leaders is a key area of real estate strategy development. Alignment isn’t always easy and often one or two key business line leaders won’t be aligned with corporate objectives. It takes dynamic leadership in CRE and a dynamic team to partner with these business line leaders. CRE organizations who see their role of strategic enabler of the work place environment will achieve greater success. They will find that they have become a valued partner in the C-suite.

How important is finding the right team/ partner to fulfill objectives and what do you credit success? 

Having the right team and attracting the right talent has been a critical key to our success. It is the team that does the work and building a strong team from top to bottom isn’t always easy. Every leader has been in an interview where they are not convinced they have found the right candidate…trust that intuition and wait until you have found the best candidate.

What were some of the high points of your work together at First American? 

Our approach to problem solving and process improvement has been the hallmark of our eight- year relationship. Both teams have come together to form a single team and have always been process and customer-focused, In 2016 the team was challenged to “take their game to the next level” and deliver services quicker, with increased strategic collaboration with business line leaders.  The CRE team established a series of whiteboard meetings to brainstorm and prioritize opportunities for improvement to the delivery of services focused on the customer experience. As a result of these meetings, the team developed a series of strategic initiatives, which later resulted in the creation of new innovative tools:

  • Transaction Management Closeout Automation – Developed proprietary process to substantially reduce the time required to book and close out the transaction process which benefitted the entire team’s communication through PjM.
  • Workload Management Tool (gearing ratio) – Implemented multi-variable tool to maintain a balanced transaction and project management workload that also automatically generates the customer survey.  

Working through the scoping and execution of these initiatives as well as working cross-functionally with business lines leaders was a highlight for the team in 2016. The results of these initiatives and the process map we created to deliver on these initiatives are what we enjoyed most about working together. Success is always fun! 

What would you tell another CRE considering a REmmy nomination?

Do it!  This process, win or lose, is a great morale booster for the team.  The application is simple and not a huge marketing packet.  It doesn’t take a giant needle-moving event to be a submittal.  Granted, while some years it’s pretty much business as usual for us, we worked hard on revamping processes and felt it was a story worth telling. Plus our team was thrilled to win!