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DALLAS-CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. has started certification training of project managers worldwide, using a proprietary program that it developed in conjunction with the University of Texas at Dallas’ school of management. With the first group now in training, CBRE has applied for a trademark of PJM Foundations for future rollout to the entire CRE marketplace.

The nine-module, online course requires 40 to 50 hours to complete. An estimated 1,000 CBRE employees are expected to earn certifications in the first year. The program spent 10 months in beta testing and also underwent stress testing from CBRE’s up and coming future leaders, whose input was incorporated into the final product, according to Ari Reubin, vice president and director of quality and innovation assurance for the Dallas-based leadership team.

“Ultimately, it’s our vision this will become an industry-wide platform,” Ken Loeber, executive vice president of CBRE’s project management group, tells GlobeSt.com. “If this tool had been available in the industry, we would have gone out and acquired it. We want to marry the individual talent and art of project management with the individuals we have and have a common process to support them.” The CBRE development team included James Brown, managing director in Charlotte, NC and Richard Smith, a managing director in Phoenix.

PJM Foundations has three levels, with the upper two targeting management and senior-level professionals. CBRE’s 2,400 project management professionals will be required to complete the first level of coursework. Level 1′s modules are introduction, leadership and communications management, risk management, scope and design management, building infrastructure, scheduling and cost management, contracting for project managers, quality management and construction administration and occupancy management services.

Loeber says the team evaluated all programs in the marketplace before initiating the contract with UTD, one of nine universities in the nation that’s certified by Project Management Institute. “We couldn’t find a property management platform that was very specific to real estate and oriented to what our customers want,” he says.

Reubin, who left the UTD faculty one year ago, says UTD earned the partnership status because “they were very flexible and easy to work with.” Under the agreement, graduates will earn certifications from CBRE and UTD. Furthermore, the agreement stipulates that UTD can’t add it to its curriculum for one to three years. “We have locked in the work product because it’s something we developed,” Reubin says.

Still, Loeber and Reubin recognize PJM Foundations’ strategies will eventually end up in the marketplace as employees change jobs. “But, we are positioning our company to be at least one generation ahead in the industry,” Reubin says.

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