As the facilities coordinator for Northwestern University in Chicago, my property management experience has been focused on higher education. Over the last several years, I have been concentrating on managing spaces that the university rents in commercial buildings in downtown Chicago. Essentially, I am the liaison between the university departments housed in those spaces and the building owners we lease space from. As such, I thought it would be beneficial to take a course in commercial property management as part of my professional development. After doing some research, I discovered BOMA and the courses it offered and I realized BOMA was exactly what I was looking for. The Foundations of Real Estate Management course seemed like the best place to start, and it proved to be a very beneficial course for me.
It was such a great experience taking the five-week Foundations of Real Estate Management course. The class included a diverse group of professionals at different levels of their careers; some had just started out in property management, while others were more seasoned professionals taking the class to earn credit towards the Real Property Administrator (RPA) or other designations. Students shared their different experiences related to the course material, providing additional opportunities for learning beyond the official course material.
I enjoyed learning from the instructors of the course, who were professionals from top real estate companies with many years of experience. Each course module had something unique to offer, covering everything from real estate administration to building operations.
I was surprised to discover that the building operations module dealing with heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) was one of the highlights of the course for me. Never in a million years would I have thought that learning about mechanical systems would be interesting, but it gave me a better appreciation for these complex systems and the engineers who work with them. I now have a better understanding and can have informed conversations with building engineers. I also am able to effectively explain to tenants why the billing charges are quite high for after-hours HVAC requests. I do not know if I would have learned that were it not for taking this course with BOMA.
"I enjoyed learning from the instructors of the [Foundations of Real Estate Management] course, who were professionals from top real estate companies with many years of experience."
"The [Foundations of Real Estate Management] course manual provided was very comprehensive and has continued to be an excellent resource, even months after the course ended."
We even had the opportunity to tour commercial properties and see the inner workings of the buildings—the systems that keep everything running behind the scenes. Learning how these complicated systems work was quite enlightening.
The course manual provided was very comprehensive and has continued to be an excellent resource, even months after the course ended. I have already referenced it several times since taking the course. I will be forever grateful for discovering BOMA, because it has really changed my professional career in terms of aiding me to be better at my job. In addition, this particular course is giving me more opportunities for growth with the substantial knowledge provided by the different modules.
My plan is to continue taking more classes with BOMA, with the goal of getting my RPA down the road. I would highly recommend this course to anyone in commercial property management, especially those who are just getting started in their careers. It would definitely give them a leg up in the industry, and it has the added benefit of providing an excellent environment for networking.
Maureen Mwangi took Foundations of Real Estate Management at BOMA/Suburban Chicago in the fall of 2018. Foundations of Real Estate Management is a six-module, 30-hour, entry-level course, covering the fundamentals of commercial real estate administration, management, building systems, accounting and reporting and contract management.
This article was originally published in the January/February 2019 issue of BOMA Magazine.