Interview with BOMA NY President – James R. Kleeman
Q: How did you first hear about BOMA? What inspired you to get involved?
Kleeman: I originally heard of BOMA through colleagues, friends and others in building management. During my time managing the Time Warner Center, I was immersed in BOMA’s processes. I had taken an active role in working to get the building awarded its Pinnacle TOBY and international-level awards. I was impressed by the professionalism of the association and learned more about its initiatives. I knew it would be great resource and I was excited to brainstorm and work with other owners and managers to push the commercial real estate industry forward.
Q: You’ve been involved for over a decade. What do you think has pushed you to stay involved?
Kleeman: Having the opportunity to share ideas on how we can better the association, and constantly listening to the talent and resources within BOMA are what has kept me involved. From the very beginning, I really wanted to help bring value to the organization. I started out by participating in and assuming leadership roles on a few committees. I remember inviting the New York Fire Department to one committee meeting and allowing the agency to share strategies on how best to deal with high-rise fires and other issues like potential terrorism. My involvement quickly turned into a cycle of wanting to contribute more and learn more. It’s fantastic to know that I’m surrounded by some of the best minds in the industry.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to the commercial real estate industry what would it be?
Kleeman: I would suggest getting involved with BOMA, engaging with people who have a lot of experience in the industry and seeking a mentor. I mentor quite a few younger professionals. I recently gave one mentee career advise that later helped lead him to a promotion. Utilizing the knowledge of experienced industry professionals can offer invaluable benefits.
Q: It sounds like mentorship is something that’s important to you.
Kleeman: Yes, it’s very important to me thatI make people feel empowered. People can accomplish incredible things when then feel empowered and supported. It’s great to watch their passion and drive evolve over time.
Q: When you were rising in your career did you have a mentor or someone that made you feel empowered?
Kleeman: Currently, I look to former BOMA presidents as mentors; however, I came into BOMA about a decade ago when I was already established in my profession. Early in my career, I didn’t have the mentorship opportunities that BOMA/New York now offers to its current members, however, I understand the importance of being one. Every day I work to inspire and invoke passion into our younger and newer members.
We vote new members into BOMA during our board meetings. After each meeting, I call every new member personally to welcome them, share information, and ask them about how they’d like to be involved. I do that with every member. I want our members in BOMA to know that I’m a resource and am to help in any way I can. To me, it’s important to grow young talent.
I recently agreed on a new partnership between BOMA/New York and a university based in New York City. The partnership involves BOMA sharing student and recent graduate resumes with our members and their companies for internships and potential job opportunities. I look forward to expanding that program to include more universities for next year.
Q: What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment at BOMA?
Kleeman: There are a lot of things I continue to be proud of at BOMA. Working with external stakeholders to move the needle on certain issues; utilizing the staff, members, and resources of BOMA/New York and BOMA International to update and alter BOMA/New York’s official logo and brand; and being elected president of BOMA/New York are just a few of my highlights. Working with others as president, we put together a long-range plan together on the direction we’d like to take BOMA/NY for the next five to 10 years. The plan ties in all parts of BOMA/New York including our budget, our technology initiatives, and our mentorship program. I’m impressed by the final plan and excited for the future of BOMA.
Q: Is there anything I didn’t ask that you want to share?
Kleeman: I think everyone would be happy to know that we just signed the contract for our 50th Anniversary Celebration this year. It’ll be held on October 24th at the Mandarin Oriental. It will be a gala celebration and an opportunity for our members to network and recall our many accomplishments over the past 50 years. We’re reaching out to all our former Presidents and hope they’re able to join us as we commemorate our anniversary.