December 4, 2015
Thirty-six percent of the workforce in the U.S. is comprised of people born between 1980 and 2000, or the generation lumped together and ubiquitously referred to as Millennials. Over the next five years, this number is projected to rise to 46 percent, which means that what they have to say impacts business and the economy in unprecedented ways.
At the recent Connect Westside Los Angeles, a panel comprised of founders, directors, and entrepreneurs gathered to share their business perspective, the immense impact of new and existing technology in the industry, and a list of things they wish their higher-ups would do to improve both employee and business success. Connect Media’s Vice President Sarah Quinn moderated the panel, driving questions based on her own personal life and many years of experience in CRE.
As Pierce Neinken, global portfolio manager at Airbnb remarked early on, “Technology is driving significant changes and redefining how we do business.” He shared how data-driven information is informing decision-making, and that as a generation who grew up with the Internet, connection is critical. Millennials seek workplaces that allow them to do just that, with flexible schedules, technological amenities, and spaces that they want to actually hang out in after work hours, even inviting their friends to join.
David Manshoory, founder and president of AssetAvenue, a CRE technology that redefines the experience for a borrower to get a mortgage, quickly agreed. He founded AssetAvenue, his third company, in a perfect marriage of events after the Great Recession. He noted that at the time, people had distrust in banks, smart workers were laid off, and the start-up costs for the tech industry were quickly diminishing. As online lending from non-bank lenders grew to 37% this year, he had the foresight to realize the market’s need for such a product as AssetAvenue delivers.
At Rising Realty, Matthew Ahrens, SVP of Acquisitions and Capital Markets, made it clear that Rising prioritizes technology needs for tenants, including the creation of its own Internet service provider because they understand that when Internet goes out, business comes to a halt. As technology pervades the industry and heavily impacts worker productivity, Ahrens noted that Rising truly cares about their acquisitions.
Society’s progression is undebatable when it comes to technology, but Nicole Atoyan, a former associate at IDS Real Estate Group and Columbia MBA student, shared her personal reasons for diving headfirst in the industry. She’s seen her ancestors have to liquidate all of their assets to afford care during their old age, and she is devoting her MBA studies to understanding financial assets and insurance. She said, “Over 6 million people turn 65 everyday, and our country cannot support their needs. We need to get our generation ready for our ‘golden years.’”
Each and every panelist came with vast experience and knowledge in the industry, and all concluded with what they wish their business predecessors understood about their generation. Ahrens urged that leaders be open to the creative process of their younger counterparts, and Manshoory advised them to be open to embracing and experimenting new technologies by being an early adopter.
Both Atoyan and Neinken tackled the topic of mentorship, as the former noted that mentorship is lacking and it will take highlighting, spotlighting, and rewarding mentors to create an environment that fosters these kinds of relationships. Neinken added to see the mentee-mentor relationship as a benefit to both parties, sharing that the younger generation can add value for their mentor, especially when it comes to understanding technology.
Hearing from the young leaders, who have no place to climb other than the top, was an inspiring and informational session that clearly depicted the value of the “millennial mind”.