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Compass Management
Compass Management
Compass Management

Make IREM Part of Your Emergency Plan

As a Real Estate Manager you’ve likely had to create an Emergency Plan for the buildings you manage so that everyone knows what to do when the unthinkable happens; the question is, have you created a similar plan for your own career? If not, now is the time to start that plan, and involvement in IREM should be at the top of the list, especially in today’s economic climate!

Being laid off is one of those things that everyone thinks won’t happen to them, right up until it does. I would know, after 10 years with my employer I was laid off on February 1st. There was no warning; it came as a complete shock! For many people, getting laid off would be devastating, especially if they don’t have an “emergency plan” for their own career. Fortunately, I started on my plan years ago and I am now so glad I did!

I started as a CPM candidate in 1999 and finally finished my education and passed the exams in 2008, being officially sworn in as a CPM in 2009. (I realized the other day, oddly enough, that my CPM certificate is dated February 1, 2009, exactly 3 years to the day prior to being laid off.) I had been involved in the organization for 10 years by the time I received my designation, but had just moved to Denver and gotten involved in the Northern Colorado Chapter in 2008. I knew, after attending one of my first meetings in 1999, I wanted to serve on the Board of Directors for IREM one day and my move to Colorado proved to be the perfect opportunity to do exactly that. I started on the Board in January 2009, as Chapter Secretary and am now in my fourth year on the Board, serving as the 2011 & 2012 President-Elect.

My involvement in IREM and, more specifically, my time on the Board has allowed me the opportunity to develop relationships (many of which have developed into personal friendships as well) with people in the industry that I would not have known otherwise. These relationships proved invaluable within a couple hours of having been “given notice”; in the fifteen minutes it took me to get home, I already had one lead.

As much as I would love to say that initial lead turned into an interview and job offer, it did not; but the point is that it was not my only lead from people I’ve gotten to know because of my involvement in IREM. In fact, quite the opposite is true! In time (hopefully by the time this is printed) I will have a job offer and, if the leads continue to come in the way they have in the last two weeks, that job could very well be in part to relationships I’ve developed thru my involvement in IREM.

While relationships are key in a situation like mine, they are not the only benefit from my time on the Board. I’ve learned to be a better leader, I’ve learned to handle conflict better, I’ve been involved in meetings on Capitol Hill to lobby our legislators on issues affecting commercial real estate, I’ve learned to how to lead a volunteer organization, and I’ve met people at national meetings (paid for by the Chapter) that will be friends/resources in this industry for life; but most importantly, I’ve developed relationships with people who have already been supporting me, encouraging me, and, truthfully, helping me thru this time of transition.

From a very young age I was taught, “It’s not who you know, it’s what you know, that matters.” (I think my parents told me that to try to get me to care more about school.) While it might have been true in that situation, it certainly was not true when I entered the work force. It didn’t take long at all for me to realize that while “what I knew” was definitely important, “who I knew” was more important. Nothing has proven that more true than being laid off.

The relationships I’ve developed thru IREM have made this entire event far less frightening than it would have been otherwise. For years people have said to me, “Tiffany, you will get so much more out of your involvement in IREM than you could ever imagine”; that has certainly proven to be true. I can’t imagine (and honestly don’t want to imagine) how I would be feeling if I hadn’t gotten involved in our Chapter nearly four years ago.

To be honest, I got involved in IREM as part of my own personal/professional “Development Plan” but now that plan is serving a dual purpose and is, in the short term at least, also serving as my “Emergency Plan”. Do you have a plan in place? If not, I invite you to join us for our next event and start getting your “Development/Emergency Plan” in place! (Our calendar can be found on our website,, under the “Events” tab.)


by Tiffany L. Jackson, CPM®