CCIM Feature

CCIM Spotlight: Travel Guides

CCIMs voyage to Nigeria to explore business opportunities.

Members of the CCIM Institute’s Jay W. Levine Leadership Development Academy are encouraged to use the program as a stepping stone for networking and establishing business ventures. But it’s unlikely that Mark Biery, CCIM, associate broker with Chapman Lindsey CRES in Tucson, Ariz., and Edward Nwokedi, CCIM, director of multihousing brokerage for Cushman & Wakefield in Houston, expected to meet new travel companions. For these two CCIMs, the academy led to new professional opportunities, a solid friendship, and a trip to Nigeria.

During introductions at the Leadership Academy’s first session, Biery’s ears perked up when Nwokedi mentioned his yearly trips to Nigeria, his family’s homeland. After the class ended, Biery approached Nwokedi and expressed interest in going with him on his next trip because, “I always enjoy traveling to places I have never been,” he says.

“The trip initially was intended to be a vacation, but once we were [in Nigeria], we saw some great business opportunities,” Biery explains.

Using Nwokedi’s professional network, the two met with a client who is attempting to purchase Nigeria’s largest oil pipeline company. “We met with him to present real estate business opportunities,” Nwokedi says. They also looked at several hotels for sale and worked with one owner who wants to sell a percentage of his company to investors to help expand the hospitality chain into other countries. Currently, Biery and Nwokedi are trying to structure a plan for the client aimed at U.S. investors.

Aside from the opportunity to explore new business, Nwokedi valued the chance to share his homeland with someone unfamiliar with the country. Biery was able to see firsthand that Africa is a vibrant part of the world. “Mark can tell people about Nigeria, and in turn, more business professionals will want to go and seek out business opportunities there. While [Nigeria] may be 10 years behind with technology, the business there is still flowing,” Nwokedi says.

Both Biery and Nwokedi look forward to working on deals together in the future and referring one another to clients. “Ed is the first guy I would think of if someone needed multifamily guidance in Texas. I am completely comfortable and trust Ed’s skills,” Biery says.

While the Leadership Academy only meets about four times over the course of the year, many CCIMs are surprised that, aside from learning valuable professional skills, they also leave with long-lasting friendships. “Tucson is small. Meeting Ed helped to open doors and allowed me to believe in my ability to do deals around the world. People gravitate toward their friends who have connections and contacts in other areas as a starting point,” Biery says.

Stephanie Bell

“I went through the [recession in the] 1980s and purposely set out a market plan that would not have the boom-and-bust [nature] that comes with real estate cycles.” — Joe W. Milkes, CCIM, Milkes Realty Valuation, Dallas“We were anticipating a slowdown in the market and wanted to develop an avenue of business that would create a steady stream of income.” — Yvonne Jones, CCIM, CPM, Zifkin Realty Management LLC, Chicago“I help struggling companies rethink their business models, which includes determining the most profitable use of their real estate.” — Audie Cashion, CCIM, Alpha World Properties LLC, High Point, N.C.Stephanie Bell is associate editor of Commercial Investment Real Estate.


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