Business adapts to new ways of learning 

How do you train people in an environment of constantly evolving business practices, complex regulations and ever-changing technologies when traditional higher education doesn’t offer the relevant coursework you need? For the commercial real estate management industry, we fill that gap. We train our own work force, offering what traditional colleges cannot: education that is timely, affordable, and responsive to very tight workday schedules.

At the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco, training you to professionally run a skyscraper is something we do every day. We educate you in the ways of operating what today are called “smart buildings,” those high-tech wonders that provide environmentally friendly features or offer the technology and infrastructure required to operate sophisticated computerized systems that let you engage in video conferences with your associates in New York, Frankfurt and Tokyo.

Skill sets taught in the past can no longer be counted on to prepare you for the future. And sometimes the real world moves too rapidly for colleges and universities. We simply turn to those who are on the front lines of the latest and best practices to teach in the afternoon what they did that morning. At BOMA, we call it “real-time” education. We deliver it in ways that increase skill sets with minimum disruption to a student’s work schedule.

Whether it’s a one-hour update on a code change or a morning session on the latest technology or business practice, we deliver information that can be used as soon as you go back to work.

Through BOMA International and the Building Owners and Managers Institute International, we provide education in subjects like budgeting and accounting, law and risk management, real estate investment and finance, ethics, and environmental health and safety. Together we confer professional certifications that are highly respected within our industry. These professional credentials command respect when people in our industry wish to move from company to company or from one region to another. And we do it efficiently, using both classroom and online educational venues, and charge tuition that is very affordable, compared with other educational institutions.

Modern buildings require well-trained talent. BOMA provides the education, standards and best-practice benchmarks that keep building operators on the leading edge of their tradecraft.

We’re on the front lines of implementing environmentally responsible practices. Whether it’s reducing energy use, conserving water, improving indoor air quality or promoting recycling, we offer courses to show building operators and tenants how to run more efficient and healthy workplaces. In conjunction with our affiliates and unions, we teach people how to manage and operate sophisticated heating, cooling, lighting, fire and life-safety systems.

Sometimes we must respond to dramatic incidents like 9/11. When that attack on some of America’s most iconic buildings occurred, BOMA worked with public agencies to reduce the likelihood of other types of terrorism against building occupants. We teach emergency preparedness and response for many challenges to building operations including earthquakes, power blackouts, and workplace violence.

Since BOMA San Francisco’s creation a century ago, we’ve not only kept abreast of thousands of legislative and building code changes, but we have also taught commercial property owners and operators how to comply with new government regulations. We have drawn upon the knowledge of our associate members who design and construct offices, provide security, fire control, elevator services and so on. Experts in these and other fields conduct seminars, workshops and conferences.

Bottom line: We don’t care whether you spent your college years studying the English War of the Roses or the sociology of urban gang warfare — or even if you went to college. We didn’t choose to be in the education business. It just evolved naturally, as far back as 1911, when one property manager began sharing a better way to do things with another.

Marc Intermaggio is executive vice president of BOMA, San Francisco’s Building Owners and Managers Association.

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