Members of the Silver flight of the Urban Development/Mixed Use Council tour Philadelphia during the ULI Spring Meeting in 2016.

In response to growing interest in the Institute’s product councils, ULI is expanding the program, adding five brand-new councils and five new flights of existing councils in 2018. Council chairs are actively recruiting members for their individual councils. For more information or to apply, please visit navigator.uli.org/newproductcouncils.

ULI’s Product Council Program provides a platform for full members to connect with one another around specific industry topics and product types. Meeting twice a year at the Spring Meeting and the Fall Meeting, product councils offer members the opportunity to debate issues and discuss trends in a more intimate and confidential setting, as well as to undertake a range of other thought leadership initiatives throughout the year. Product council members describe the council experience as rewarding and enriching, both professionally and personally.

Randy Rowe, chairman of Green Courte Partners and a former ULI global chairman, will be the chair of the newly formed Technology and Real Estate Council, one of five councils that look at completely new subject areas for product councils, including the Shared Economy, Placemaking, Suburban Redevelopment, and Travel Experience councils.

Speaking with Urban Land Online, Rowe said that part of the reason he was interested in being the chair of a new product council is that it “being on a product council is such a quintessential ULI experience, to sit in a room with a very smart and diverse group of people—in terms of their geography and experience—to tackle a case study, or deeply explore whatever topic is being focused on. You create really strong friendships . . . [and] it brings ULI to scale where you can connect with it effectively.”

Rowe was also particularly intrigued by the concept of a new council looking at the impact of technology on the built environment: “The topic is really exciting. . . . Real estate—like every industry—is going through a massive transformation, whether it’s autonomous cars, drones, or the way we build buildings. With 3-D printing and other technologies, we can innovate to reduce the time it takes to build buildings. The impact of artificial intelligence in our systems and how we build buildings—all of these things will be bringing a lot of fun and interesting discussions.”

Jill Hatton, who is the chair of the Real Estate and Timberland Committee for the Pension Reserves Investment Board for the commonwealth of Massachusetts and also a ULI governing trustee, will chair a new flight of the Urban Development/Mixed-Use (UDMUC) Council, one of the five new flights focused on existing product council topics. Hatton told Urban Land Online that she is looking for members who are already showing engagement at the local level, and also a diversity of professional backgrounds. “We’re looking to bring 50 diverse real estate practitioners—developers, investors, public/private as examples—into a room together,” said Hatton. “We want to have a lot of different voices in the room that want to be engaged.”

ULI product council and district council leadership at the 2017 ULI Fall Meeting in Los Angeles.

Hatton said that the willingness to discuss best practices, mistakes made, and lessons learned has been invaluable to her as a practitioner. “You get to have a very rich and detailed discussion with a broad set of peers from different disciplines and different backgrounds. Very few people out there are truly mixed-use developers, as you have to orchestrate a patchwork quilt that’s somehow worth significantly more as a mixture of uses. Particularly in the UDMUC space, it’s such a valuable tool. We want specialists in retail, parking, and commercial development, but everyone is interested in the complex, urban, mixed-use product type. . . . The ability to share in a small group, to talk openly and honestly with confidentiality, is invaluable.”

Rowe also said that the willingness to share is key to being a contributor on a product council. “One of the things you see a lot at ULI is very strong type-A people,” he said. “But these are people who think they’ve never done it perfectly. They are harder on themselves than anyone else could be, they are looking to get better. In our daily work, we [as an industry] impact the spaces around us. . . . If you are somebody who believes you already have all the answers, you probably wouldn’t be at ULI.”

Selections for product council leaders and members will be determined by the product council chairs and are expected to be completed by December 31, 2017. Please note that if you are an associate member and have been selected to join a product council, then you will have to upgrade your membership. Learn more about ULI’s membership levels.

Are you interested in engagement opportunities outside of product councils? Go to navigator.uli.org to explore more than 200 ways to get involved with ULI.