The next generation Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2008

Much has been studied, discussed and written about the personal and professional development of the next generation. With seemingly much more structured developmental programs available, this group is also the product of the technology boom that has expanded its informational reach and its almost constant stream of communication. So with these newfound skills, how are young professionals assessing career choices?

“Without question, there are a number of factors in play, starting at an early age, that serve to develop a sense of interest, priorities and expectations,” says Matt Baldwin, a multihousing specialist with CB Richard Ellis in Tampa. “Many of the young people of today have the advantage of being exposed to a much more diverse spectrum of people, places and opportunities than perhaps our parents. With that, we see a broad base of possibilities. However, the journey in many ways also serves to reinforce the fundamentals of previous generations that interestingly become increasingly important.”

Smart Business spoke with Baldwin about his development and path to a commercial real estate career.

What were the factors that started to shape your future ambitions?

Well, certainly my parents and family are at the very core of my personal development. Education was always a key fundamental, and we were competitive at just about everything. Along the way you begin to measure yourself against the increasing universe of people around you. Academic achievement is very qualitative in structure and measurement. Athletics are similar in that success or failure is easily benchmarked. Both serve to fuel the competitive instinct while also making clear what work needs to be done to achieve personal goals. I feel fortunate that both my educational and sports experiences gave me the confidence to put few, if any, limitations on myself.

Was a career in commercial real estate an initial goal?

Actually, no. My initial attraction was for the banking industry, which I saw as the common element behind every business venture. The ability to look at various scenarios and address the capital structure led me to a position with a large institution firm. While I enjoyed that experience, it became apparent that the industry was very structured in approach and career path. At the same time, the information and technology community was exploding. Like many my age, we saw a very fluid environment and one in which seemingly unlimited opportunity was producing incredible wealth. My second stop was with one of the best known information search platforms.

How did these opportunities reinforce or challenge your career path?

While both were very satisfying in many ways, the dynamics of the ‘real world’ also began to shape both my personal and professional life. As friends married and started families, I saw yet a new set of priorities as well as the challenges of balancing both family and career. Measurement of success was now more aligned to those who had a lifestyle that wove health, family, career and community together. When that combination was right, life seemed enriched. On the other hand, when it was not, it was apparent that the toll was heavy on the individual as well as the family. The expectations and even a sense of entitlement that is created in the academic environment were certainly challenged by the many factors that can influence one’s perspective and decisions.

Does commercial real estate now meet your expanded priorities?

I believe it really does. First, while there are certainly no short cuts to dedicated effort, this business offers a degree of flexibility that allows me to govern my day to a large degree. This gives me the ability to adjust, be it for a client’s needs or for a personal matter. On the personal side, this is very important to my wife and me as we have interests and friends that we enjoy together. On the professional side, results are only limited by your own effort and of course the cyclical market conditions of the time.

Additionally, the learning process is ongoing. While there is certainly some redundancy in process, every transaction brings its own unique characteristics to the table. This continuum allows me to build on my past base of experience while looking forward to the energy of a new challenge. So be it personal or professional, while much has changed for the next generation, many of the fundamentals remain the same. Collectively this all contributes how we view and contribute to our community. I truly think we will all benefit from the best of each generation.

MATT BALDWIN is an associate with CB Richard Ellis’s Private Client Group specializing in multihousing. Reach him at (813) 273-8458 or matthew.baldwin@cbre.com.