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Developing Leader Spotlight: Leadership that Counts

As a certified public accountant, Ian Nichols, a recipient of NAIOP’s 2016 Developing Leaders Award, could work for a variety of industries. He says that ultimately it was commercial real estate that chose him – and he’s been passionate about the industry ever since. His colleagues note that Nichols’ leadership skills, strong work ethic and infectious enthusiasm add up to a valuable combination that helps him thrive in every role he takes on.

Ian NicholsAs director of accounting for Baron Property Services LLC, Nichols manages a team of five employees responsible for the day‐to‐day accounting for more than 3,700 multifamily units and 2 million square feet of industrial space. He is responsible for evaluating and implementing various systematic and process efficiencies throughout the accounting and operations departments. Nichols previously worked as a controller for Gart Properties LLC.

A member of NAIOP Colorado since 2010, Nichols serves on the chapter board of directors and has been active in planning numerous Developing Leader programs and events. He was previously the Developing Leaders Committee chairman and has been instrumental in strengthening the chapter’s mentorship program. Nichols also helped establish the chapter’s Fight Night, a wildly successful black-tie event. In addition, he established a partnership between NAIOP Colorado and the Denver Active 20-30 Children’s Foundation, which raises money for disadvantaged children. He was recognized as NAIOP Colorado’s Developing Leader Member of the Year in 2014.

NAIOP asked this accomplished accountant for more about his path to commercial real estate and what he loves about this vibrant industry.

NAIOP: What motivated you to get involved in commercial real estate?

Nichols: When you start a career in public accounting, you don’t get to select your clients. Instead, you are initially assigned to clients based on the staffing needs of your firm’s clients. When I started at KPMG Denver, I was assigned to work on the initial public offering of DCT Industrial Trust, Inc. From there I went on to work on other REITs and construction companies, and then onto DCT, Vail, Gart, and now Baron.

NAIOP: What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your job?

Nichols: It is very exciting to see all parts of a real estate investment deal: from due diligence to acquisition to stabilization to cash flow. In addition, it is rewarding to be a part of my executive management team and to have ownership of a task or a project.

NAIOP: How has being a member of NAIOP helped your career?

Nichols: My current position at Baron is a direct result of my involvement in NAIOP. In early 2016, I reached out to Jeff Riggs, founding partner at Baron Properties and 2015 NAIOP Colorado president. Since we both served on the NAIOP Colorado Board of Directors in 2015, I had the established relationship to be able to reach out to him for career advice. My meeting with Jeff led to a meeting with the Baron Properties CFO, Karen Kinslinger, which led to my current position.

NAIOP: What advice would you offer to other young professionals in commercial real estate?

Nichols: Jump in with both feet, and when you master a new task, ask for more. When you are faced with a challenge and are about to ask for help, try to anticipate the next question your supervisor will have about the situation.

This is part of a series of profiles of NAIOP’s 2016 Developing Leaders Award recipients, who have distinguished themselves through exceptional commitment and contributions to the industry. This prestigious award was presented at NAIOP’s Commercial Real Estate Conference 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Watch this two-minute video to learn more about NAIOP’s Developing Leaders program. The recipients of the 2017 Developing Leaders Award have been announced; they will be recognized at CRE.Converge 2017 in Chicago. 

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