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BCCR: a smart career strategy for turbulent times.

Just about the only thing certain in commercial real estate these days is uncertainty. Companies are merging and breaking apart at breakneck speeds, leaving complex real estate holdings to be sorted out. New operations are being set up in every corner of the world. Whole real estate departments are being eliminated and the function outsourced. And Corporate America is putting the squeeze on its real estate executives and service providers as never before to deliver more value.

What's a real estate professional to do? In times past, you had a good career ahead of you if you could negotiate a favorable lease or execute a building project on-time and under budget. But in today's high-stakes real estate world, being a good deal-maker is no longer good enough.

Real estate executives - including consultants, brokers, developers, architects and other service providers - are increasingly being called upon to wear multiple hats: strategist, facilities manager, global projects director, site selection analyst, etc. The lines are blurring - everyone is being asked to do more with less - and you can kiss your job good-bye if you're not up to the task.

Fortunately, there are some good career strategies for these turbulent times. One of the smartest, in my opinion, is to become Board Certified in Corporate Real Estate (BCCR). Established in 1996, the certification is a rigorous, test-based program that certifies the knowledge and experience of professionals who are well-versed in the broadest spectrum of real estate skills.

The BCCR program is an outgrowth of research done by the International Development Research Council (IDRC), the worldwide association of corporate real estate executives headquartered in Atlanta. Their cutting-edge Corporate Real Estate 2000 research, which was done in conjunction with M.I.T, Cornell and Carnegie-Mellon University, identified the dramatic changes that real estate professionals will be bumping up against as the new millennium approaches.

To best cope with this "revolution in real estate," executives were encouraged by the researchers to keep their transaction and project execution skills sharp, while taking steps to move into more strategic planning roles. Their research shows that managers become indispensable when they work with a company's real estate holdings from a strategic perspective and understand the impact of real estate on the total corporation.

BCCR Exams Test Five Core Areas

The BCCR certification requires candidates to pass two-hour exams consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions each, in five core competencies: strategic planning; transactions; site selection and location analysis; facilities management; and project execution.

In addition, candidates must complete four electives and a three-day capstone course. The capstone will focus on integration of the five competencies from a management perspective and understanding of the impact of corporate real estate operations on shareholder value and bottom-line profitability.

Candidates can take up to live years to complete all the requirements.

Although IDRC sponsors the BCCR program, membership in the organization is not required for certification and BCCR is administered through a separate board of directors. Thus, BCCR is the only industry-wide, exam-based certification.

To qualify as a certification candidate, applicants need at least five years of experience in the corporate real estate industry and a bachelor's degree. Individuals who have no degree, but have a minimum of 10 years' industry experience, may take the exams offered this September. That will be the last window of opportunity for non-degreed but experienced executives to obtain BCCR certification.

Preparation for the exams is very much an individual matter and one of BCCR's unique characteristics. Everyone registering for the program is given a handbook with detailed outlines of the subject matter covered in each of the five tests. By reviewing this, candidates should get a pretty good idea if they can tackle an exam based on their existing knowledge or if they need to learn more about the subject.

There are several options for those who feel they may need additional preparation. Study guides, which contain a basic overview of the five subject areas as well as extensive lists of reading materials and educational courses that pertain to each test, are available for $50 each. IDRC's Global Education Services also offers a one-day orientation course which provides an overview of all five exams, and five one- to two-day courses addressing the competencies tested by each exam.

It is during this preparation phase that many executives discover where some of their skills are rusty or even non-existent. This is BCCR's value as a benchmarking tool: it enables professionals to identify needed skills and bone up on the latest the industry has to offer, and then verifies their ability to apply this knowledge by passing the exams.

Without a doubt, BCCR is a powerful competency-assessment tool. It offers a very clear picture of a person's knowledge and skills in all areas of corporate real estate. It is precisely this reason that more and more corporations will use it as a benchmark to be sure that they have the "best and brightest" in their real estate management ranks.

BCCR will also become a valuable tool for hiring new employees and in identifying individuals who are qualified to take on broader, more difficult challenges. I think the day may even come when it is a prerequisite for doing business with some service providers, much the way companies require their key suppliers to be ISO 9000 certified.

It is for all these reasons that I and many of my colleagues at companies around America are working toward becoming Board Certified in Corporate Real Estate. It doesn't matter if you've had five or 25 years of experience in this business, BCCR can make a big difference in your ability to tackle the tough challenges ahead. That's for certain.

(John Peace is district manager of U.S. real estate transactions for Lucent Technologies, Inc. and serves as BCCR's chairman. The BCCR exams will be offered in New York City on September 27 and 28, 1997. For more information, call Sarah Todd at (770) 453-4205.)
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Focus On: Marketing & Networking; Board Certified in Corporate Real Estate
Author:Peace, John C.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jul 16, 1997
Previous Article:Publicity is helpful, but only if handled properly.
Next Article:Developers need sophisticated market research.

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