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Colliers university: a class apart
Nick Walker
update on Saturday, November 26, 2011
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What gives property sales managers the edge? At Colliers International, it's a combination of all the usual attributes - plus "the time and resources that the company puts into training", says Piers Brunner, chief executive officer of Colliers International Asia.

The global real-estate agency conducts off-site training three times a year - in Sydney, Prague and Brentwood in Canada - as part of its Colliers University (CU) programme.

At the time of its launch in 2002, the programme was a novel concept in the industry. But today, CU has grown to include more than 1,000 classes, and Colliers International claims it has helped accelerate the professional and personal success of Colliers executives. More than this, it has become a competitive recruitment tool by attracting recruits eager to be trained.

The curriculum offers courses in commercial real estate, business and personal development.

"This expertise directly benefits our clients and their success through better results and memorable experiences," says a CU spokesperson, commenting on the programme. "We provide a layered course that develops business skills, while also focusing on behavioural coaching and human interaction. We believe personal development is also a form of professional development," the spokesperson adds.

CU offers participants three class types within its "core" class structure: product knowledge, business skills, and behavioural coaching. The primary areas of focus differ for each of the class types.

As an example, the main emphasis in the behavioural coaching unit is "market force", which relates to defining work styles and assembling dynamic teams, as well as the opportunity to work through projects and breakdowns.

The classes vary in length. On average, however, most employees take a total of about 35 hours to complete five modules. 

"The CU offerings are designed to make you more successful and effective in every aspect of your life - not just in business," says Jim Spain, an executive at Colliers International.

Given this, it's little wonder that more than 1,750 Colliers employees worldwide have participated in the programme, including salespeople, staff and senior managers. 

John Gross, vice-president and managing director of Colliers International San Diego, couldn't agree more. "I've been very impressed with the CU curriculum. Personally, I have found the courses and trainers to have a high degree of correlation and consistency with each other," he says. "The benefit for me has been that the courses build on each other, which has helped me absorb and utilise the material in my business practices."

According to Gross, the training at CU has given him much - including a sense of renewal and excitement for his day-to-day work duties.

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