Journalists today love to talk about the “changing roles” in their profession. The immediacy of the Web, the viral nature of social networking applications such as Twitter and Facebook, and the surge of John Doe Bloggers in the online universe have all combined to force many in my field of study to evolve.
No longer can a journalist simply be a cutthroat reporter or a clever wordsmith. Today, they must also be technovators, learning how to edit and stream video, create slide shows, record podcasts, and dig through the mindless chatter to find real information to report—oh, as well as post new blog entries and tweets roughly a dozen times a day.
Turns out my industry is not alone. Across the board in banking, the government, and housing and real estate, job responsibilities are also being redefined. Take the employees at government- sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They now work for the federal government and have had to adjust their reporting structure and information flow to accommodate their new realities.
They aren't the only ones. In real estate construction, with new building activity plummeting to all-time lows, project managers and development executives are finding themselves taking on new responsibilities as management seeks to retain their skills while reducing pipelines. In some cases, development officers are now managing new, fee-driven general contracting divisions or switching to maintenance and operations oversight roles.
And then there are the numbers guys. In a recent survey conducted by Apartment Finance Today, we asked CFOs and other apartment finance professionals to tell us how their job responsibilities have changed in the past year. A large number (40 percent) reported little to no change in their responsibilities, but a good chunk of respondents said they have had to evolve dramatically in the past year.
Additionally, more than a quarter (26 percent) of the respondents say they are participating more significantly in corporate strategic decisions. When it comes to acquisition and disposition activities, the results are mixed: 26 percent say they are spending more time making calls in that area, while 17 percent say they are spending less time on these activities.
And not surprisingly, one out of every five finance professionals are now spending most of their time managing maturities.
Despite these adjustments, CFOs today are optimistic and pragmatic. Just take a look at our special section on financing strategies for 2010, as reported by our senior editor Jerry Ascierto, which starts on page 22. His report looks at three opportunities that CFOs are currently eyeing, as well as three strategies for navigating the economic crisis that continues to plague the real estate business.
Ultimately, I think that being forced to learn new tasks, job functions, and responsibilities helps individuals to become more well-rounded employees and to stay relevant in a growingly competitive marketplace. A decade ago, it was companies that had to diversify to survive; today, it's the employees themselves who must diversify or die— whether they're finance execs or working journalists. Hmm”¦ that might just be a fitting topic for my next blog post or tweet.