In the latest episode of BossCast, Lisette van Doorn, chief executive of the Urban Land Institute in Europe – the oldest and largest network of real estate and land use experts in the world – speaks to Montfort’s Andrew Teacher about how real estate has become increasingly globalised, the importance of taking an interdisciplinary approach, and the organisation’s pioneering work supporting career development in schools.

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When Lisette van Doorn started out in real estate in the early 2000s, “there was no global real estate market,” as she puts it.

Clearly, a lot has changed in the last two decades.

“Big megatrends have helped the interest in certain types of real estate,” she explains. “The internet has been the big driver behind logistics real estate to grow, which at that time wasn’t even a sector. We were basically only looking at offices and retail.”

As the leading global network of industry professionals, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) has had a crucial role to play in charting some of these trends and informing its members about wider developments in the industry.

“It’s almost 50,000 members across the world that are being brought together by their eagerness to learn from what others are doing,” she describes. “Many people just work in their city. But the trends and challenges we face are very universal.”

The organisation now prides itself on its interdisciplinary membership – from technology specialists and venture capital funds to environmental analysts and engineers.

“Real estate becoming so operational means that you need to have an integrated view,” van Doorn observes.

Its large and varied membership puts ULI in a unique position in being able to coordinate and advocate for change at all levels – which, as van Doorn argues, is necessary for many of the biggest topics currently facing real estate, such as social value.

“If you want to create social impact, you need to have a wider either city level or neighbourhood level perspective,” she says. “That will involve different owners. So setting that vision and strategy through the public sector makes most sense.”

ULI’s recent report, ‘Zooming in on the S of ESG’, explores the topic in detail.

Taking a pan-European view – as ULI often does – van Doorn sees different countries as taking a ‘carrot’ or ‘stick’ approach when it comes to incentivising development. The cities that get this right – such as Madrid and Milan – take a more balanced approach that encourages development but sets out clear guidelines on what’s needed.

As well as its role in fostering networks and providing insight, ULI runs a charitable arm, UrbanPlan, that supports career development in schools and develops links between the education sector and the real estate industry.

The programme’s success is partly due to the participation of major industry players, including Harrison Street, Orion Capital Managers, Landsec and Grosvenor.

“I’m a volunteer myself,” van Doorn notes. “I’ve been one from the day I started at ULI. It is so inspiring.”

LISTEN to this podcast via Apple, Amazon, Spotify  or SoundCloud (and many other platforms) or just use the player above.