Widen your View of the Real Estate Industry

Working in one segment of the commercial real estate field can narrow your view of the many fascinating elements in the industry. ULI Atlanta’s Center for Leadership offers participants the opportunity to a more well-rounded vision into different market sectors, while widening perspective on issues and opportunities facing the entire region.

Sally Riker, Partner at Lowe Engineers

By Sally Riker, Partner at Lowe Engineers

I was not a member of ULI until a colleague recommended I apply for the Center for Leadership, and it has been one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made. I became a ULI member when I was accepted into the CFL program, and I’ve been an active member ever since, including being day-chair for the infrastructure day, co-chairing the 2016 program and, now, chairing the Center for Leadership in 2017.

On my first day in CFL, I found the group’s energy was contagious. Being around motivated individuals on different career paths with diverse life experiences who are all passionate about numerous civic ventures – while also learning from an impressive group of top regional leaders – has truly enhanced my career more than any other experience.

I remember the 2016 Economic Development day as especially enlightening. One panel of executives from NCR, Worldpay and Invest Atlanta spoke about “Transaction Alley.” I hadn’t heard this term until they reported 70 percent of all payments in the U.S. are managed in the Atlanta region and we are the nation’s payment processing capital. Yes, Atlanta – not Silicon Valley, nor Dallas or Charlotte – is the new financial technology hub. This was only one example of how CFL opened our eyes to leadership experiences and a greater understanding of how the Atlanta region operates.

Noticing similar trends in our region, our leadership team chose “Innovation and Technology” as this year’s theme to explore how technology is changing how our region gets built and where innovative approaches can help unlock some of our challenges, whether they be infrastructure, affordable housing, or access to capital.

Our group keeps in touch quarterly with organized happy hours. Since graduating from the Center, I’ve already called upon fellow participants with work-related questions and I know these connections will last throughout my career. I always look forward to opportunities for our paths will cross.

The Center for Leadership is not all about theoretical situations and networking. Opportunities to dig into real world situations and offer our expertise, advice and suggestions include participation in mTAPs, which are mini Technical Assistance Panels – ULI Atlanta service offerings to local government, public agencies and nonprofits facing complex land use and real estate issues in our area.

I had the opportunity to work on an mTAP for Atlanta’s first Cultural District. We incorporated each of our Panel’s experiences, advice and big ideas into a presentation for the organization. Through case studies of and lessons learned from other cultural districts, we narrowed down possible locations for the district and developed the “Who, What, When and How” for the client.

If you are interested in being involved with a program that affords you the opportunity to collaborate with real estate professionals from different sectors, expand your worldview, expose you to top speakers and establish relationships with a diverse group, I encourage you to apply for the Center for Leadership today. Through presentations, panels, property tours and other activities, you’ll be exposed to different facets of real estate and the Atlanta region, while also cementing relationships with established Atlanta leaders and those on the rise.

Applications for Center for Leadership are due May 20. For  information or to apply, please visit:  http://atlanta.uli.org/leadership-initiatives/center-for-leadership/

About the Author

Sally Riker, F.SAME, is a graduate of the University of Georgia and is a currently active partner of Lowe Engineers, a veteran-owned small business in the City of Atlanta. She was unanimously appointed partner in 2006 and serves in many important roles for the firm. She holds the title Sales and Marketing Director, Chief Talent Officer, and overseas admin/hr for the firm. She is responsible for identifying and recruiting top industry talent for the firm. Since joining Lowe Engineers in 2003, Sally has proven to have outstanding capabilities to build and maintain relationships that have resulted in substantial growth for the company. Since her time with the firm, Lowe Engineers was presented with multiple awards for firm excellence and growth.

Aside from working at Lowe Engineers, Sally also participates in many different non-profits, civic, and educational organizations such as SAME. She was recently elected to serve on the National Board of Direction for the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) for 2015-2018 and serves on the board for the Savannah Post. Sally is graduated from Center for Leadership in 2014 and RLI in 2006. Sally also serves on the Board for the Council for Quality Growth. Currently, Sally is co-chairing the Center for Leadership with ULI Atlanta for 2016 and 2017. In the past few years Sally has been recognized for her professional excellence with honors including: the Emerging Leaders Alliance, 7 Regional Vice President Coin Awards for SAME, and Georgia Trends 40 Under 40: Georgia’s Best & Brightest.

In her spare time Sally participates in several volunteering activities or fundraisers at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, STEM outreach, Shop with the Hero foundation, My House, Atlanta Food Bank, Zoo Atlanta, Noah’s Arc and Holy Spirit Catholic Church.  She is also a big advocate of better health and worked Part Time for Weight Watchers Inc. for 13 years leading meetings in Atlanta. Sally currently lives in Atlanta with her husband and two small children.