Comments by:Anthony J. LoPintoCEOEquinox Partners New York City

The results of last week’s poll surprised commentator LoPinto. The majority of the participants (54%) say they’re going to be focusing their hiring on entry-level positions, while 28% will be focusing on middle-management and 18% will be filling executive chairs. It’s not that LoPinto thinks entry-level is unimportant. In fact, his firm is coordinating an initiative among industry associations to foster internship programs. But the critical need, he argues, for hit-the-ground-running managers is here and clear. He explains:

“My expectation would be that the majority of hiring would be at the mid levels. This is a specialized industry, and as this market evolves, it’s becoming increasingly important for owners and portfolio managers, and others associated with managing the real estate, to start to work the portfolios more aggressively. It provides more leverage for the company. I believe that this need will be strong through ’07 and into ’08. This is especially true if you look at the substantial development activity that’s taking place. Oversupply might be on the horizon. So that need to work portfolios will be increasingly important.

“The demand for development talent is unabated and significant–and this is for talent of all types–hunters and skinners who can originate business and drive deals, developers who know how to work the process full-cycle and professionals who fall into the project-management category. We are seeing activity at a very high level for all types.

“Having said that, entry-level personnel are key, and there is a significant need to bring young talent into the industry and groom them for leadership. But that’s a long-term process. Intern job programs prepare university and college students for jobs tomorrow. Once at those jobs, you’re looking at a three-to-five-year process of learning the business. This is a talent pool that will take years to develop.

“In terms of the one choice we did not discuss, most companies prefer that executive-level talent gets the nod through a solid succession-planning process. But we see often that companies don’t necessarily have planned as fully as they need to in order to satisfy all of their executive needs. So often companies will promote, but as often they will go externally for talent.”

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