ULI Europe Chair’s Mid-Term Review

Following a highly successful ULI Europe Leadership Retreat in Lisbon, Portugal, the ULI Europe Chair, Jürgen Fenk, reflects on what has been achieved during the first year of his term and what to look forward to during the rest of the term until June 2020:

“The ULI Europe Leadership Retreat, which took place in Lisbon at the end of September, was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with fellow professionals from the real estate industry who I consider to have become firm friends with thanks to the connections made through the ULI.

One of those friends is the immediate past Chair Jon Zehner, with whom I was actively involved in the creation of the ULI Europe Strategic Plan (July 2018 – June 2022), as part of the Global Strategic Plan. 

The main objective for ULI in Europe is to grow membership by enhancing member engagement and retention, increasing ULI’s impact and making the organisation (financially) resilient for the long term. To achieve this, we set five major goals:

  • Membership – to develop and grow membership (individual and corporate) as the main, stable revenue source.
  • Leadership – to become better known as the European multi-disciplinary real estate and land-use knowledge network, which leads in applying big ideas and emerging trends to business practices.
  • Structure and Networks – to further develop the National Councils and Product Councils and open up the opportunities for cross-fertilisation as they are fundamental to Europe’s member engagement.
  • Products and Programmes – to focus on mission-driven activities, such as UrbanPlan and Advisory Services, as ways to distinguish ULI from other non-profit organisations in Europe and increase member engagement.
  • Financial Performance – to establish a financially resilient, self-sufficient platform for sustainable growth.
ULI Europe Leadership Retreat

Since ULI has become active in Europe in the early 1990s, the Institute has established itself as being at the forefront of pioneering real estate and urban development  research, helping us to attract a diverse membership base from all sectors of the industry. Since my term as chair began in July 2018, we have grown from around 3,400 members in June 2018 to more than 3,800 today and we aim to grow much more ambitiously over the next few years.

Key to our success has been delivering member value, through a strong focus on our National and Product Councils as well as research and advisory services.

ULI members have had the opportunity to connect and learn from each other as part of the many events that are held through the National Council network. This is complemented by a growing range of local and European Product Councils responding to the needs of our members. The most recent Europe Product Council focuses on Technology and Real Estate and was launched earlier this year. We are now working on the launch of new Product Councils, starting off as Forums to test the member appetite, focused on “Living Concepts”, “Life Sciences”, “Creative Placemaking” and “Urban Development and Infrastructure”, aiming to evolve these into dedicated Product Councils in Spring 2020. In addition, this autumn we are launching a webinar programme, another good example of the ever-growing range of opportunities to learn and get involved with ULI.

Among our key events across Europe are the annual local launch events of Emerging Trends in Real Estate® 2020. This year, the European launch will take place in Brussels on 6 November, followed by local launch events in European cities throughout our National Council network. We look forward to welcoming you to one of them. 

As mentioned before, research is another key focus area of ULI in Europe. In close collaboration with our members we initiate and deliver research on topics that help our members to stay ahead of the latest trends in real estate and providing leadership in the responsible use of land. A highlight of the last year has been the launch of a report published in collaboration with Heitman, “Climate Risk and Real Estate Investment Decision-Making”. 

Front cover of Climate Risk and Real Estate Investment Decision-Making

Our next major research project is on affordable housing best practice solutions – a crucial area for delivery across Europe – and one that I’m sure many of you will be interested in. Through ULI’s Knowledge Finder members can exclusively access a whole host of research also including our latest Advisory Services reports on Wolfsburg, Germany, and Haven-Stad, Amsterdam.

ULI is an educational force not just for those currently working in the real estate industry but also for those seeking to join it. One of the programmes I am most proud of is UrbanPlan, where members voluntarily teach students about the forces affecting urban regeneration, which has now expanded from the U.K. to Germany, Ireland and will soon be launched in the Netherlands. Our Navigator platform is a great way to get involved in this or one of our other fantastic programmes.

Diversity is a key focus for ULI, not only related to the membership, but also to the wider industry. With our programmes we aim to cater to the needs of all those active in urban development, from different geographies, generations and backgrounds. We are proud to inspire the next generations and our very active Young Leader (under 35) and ULI NEXT (35-45) groups. By being more involved with ULI, you will not only get more out of being a member, you will have the opportunity to be recognised as an industry leader too. At the ULI Europe Conference in London earlier this year, where we had a record attendance of over 660 attendees, we launched the ULI European Leadership Award with the inaugural winner being Scott D. Malkin, former chairman of the ULI Europe region. 

ULI European Leadership Awards 2019

The announcement of the next edition of the Leadership Awards will take place at the ULI Europe Conference which will take place 3–5 February in Amsterdam. I encourage you to register now for the ULI Europe Conference, where you will have the opportunity to network with the industry’s best and brightest and learn about Amsterdam’s urban development highlights. You will also hear from global thought-leaders including Hans Timmer (Chief Economist for South Asia Region, The World Bank), Komal Sri-Kumar (President, Sri-Kumar Global Strategies) and Daniel L. Doctoroff (Chairman and CEO of Sidewalk Labs), who is guest speaker at our prestigious conference reception and dinner. I am really looking forward to catching up with you in Amsterdam in February!