Cresa Employee Spotlight: Dipesh Shah
Cresa is committed to building an inclusive workplace that encourages, supports, and celebrates the diverse voices of our employees. Our employee spotlight series gives our team members the opportunity to share their unique experience.
Dipesh leads Cresa’s IT team and strategy, and manages the company’s client-facing technology platform to ensure that it is differentiated and valuable. He also leads the technology advisory and business intelligence portions of Cresa’s consulting offering.
What is your Name, Office, and position at Cresa?
I'm Dipesh Shah, Chief Information Officer for Cresa Global. I'm based out of Atlanta; however, out of HQ.
How long have you worked at Cresa?
I joined Cresa in June of 2021. So it's been a fairly short journey. Cresa as an organization is open to new ideas, new people and new thinking. And that was really one of the great things that I was looking for, that was high on my list. We've got a lot of work ahead of us. IT has got a lot of work ahead of us, but when we look at the fact that people are willing to listen, that in itself is a victory. The fact that I get phone calls from advisors and from different offices asking, Hey, can we try this [new idea or new technology solution]? Can we look at this? When people throw ideas at me, that makes my life easier versus me trying not to shove it down their throat. Them coming to me simplifies my life.
How did you get into the industry?
I've been involved in real estate technology for 20 plus years. Initially, in early 2000 I was a consultant working for a large CRM organization and had the opportunity to get off the road with one of my existing clients at the time, Equity Office Properties. Ever since then, once I joined, it actually became an interest of mine, so I've stayed within the real estate sector for 20 plus years.
What are some challenges you have encountered during your career and how did you overcome them?
Historically, real estate has been significant dollars, big dollars, but when it came to technology, it was really considered as a back office function, and really not as a differentiator. Today, we talk about prop tech, we talk about data analytics, and that wasn't the case 15 or 20 years ago, I would say. So really, as the industry has evolved, it's actually elevated the role of technology and the leadership, and hence it's given me the opportunity to grow.
Why are you passionate about what you do?
I am passionate about not just my role, but the industry as a whole. One reason is opportunity. In the early 2000s, technology was not considered as a differentiator for most organizations. It was really just making sure that the books were consistent, making sure that we have the phone systems working and the internet and those basic things. Whereas today, we here at Cresa, and really as an industry, are thinking about what the data and the insights can provide, how can I better manage my portfolio, my real estate. So there's really so much more that we can do. And the other part of it is because of what we're doing in our personal lives and we've really taken advantage of technology that has shifted to the corporate world. People have an expectation that, Hey, my Facebook at home worked, so why is my technology in the office difficult? So really there's been such a big growth and the pendulum has shifted towards the role of technology.
Are there any projects or contributions to your local Cresa office, that you would like to share?
I have to look corporate-wide, then yet I still look at each individual office, but it's really more of a standard that I can drive across everybody; it’s not just Portland, not just Atlanta, but it's for everybody. So my job here at Cresa as the Chief Information Officer is actually quite interesting. I kind of break it up into three buckets: One is the corporate IT, so think about your local office, your infrastructure, your network, your laptop, the wifi. I have responsibility for that. Number two, think about all the business applications from the CRM system, the intranet, the website, our accounting, our HR platform. And then number three, it's our client-facing technologies. So what we traditionally call Valo, the analytics that we provide to our clients, the dashboards, the tools that our lease admin are using, our workplace. So again, it's all encompassing. So really three different buckets all within my periphery. Last but not least, the point of my role is also to be client-facing and help on the sales pitches. So again, as advisors are driving clients and driving prospects, that is also a part of my role, to be engaged in that opportunity.
What organization(s) are you currently involved with?
Primarily through my church. I volunteer my time there. Not on the religious side, but more just helping with managing the church, the temple, other areas. Just working with my children, we like to take them to different areas so we can see how people live. The life that we live… we live in a bubble. So it's really about helping my kids understand that this is reality. So as much as we can, we go to food pantries and other places where we can just donate. Not necessarily just dollars, but a few hours. These are things that my wife and I like to do with the kids.
How did you become involved with this organization?
So I recently moved from Chicago to Atlanta. Previously I was volunteering in Chicago. And then when we moved down to Atlanta, we kind of did something similar, looked on the internet for local organizations and went to the website. There's so much out there, so much information that's at your fingertips. And whenever an organization has email communication, we try to take advantage and get on the mailing list so that we can volunteer.
What have you learned from your volunteer opportunities?
The biggest thing is that I know I'm fortunate. I'm here, I'm living, I'm breathing, doing well. So it’s just giving back at the end of the day. There's no “star”, no award, but it's just knowing that I can look at myself in the mirror every morning and say, okay, I did a good job. That's important to us. And it's part of the upbringing. It was passed down to me from my parents, hopefully we pass it down to our children and so on. Keep giving forward.
How do you think we can better promote DIB within the CRE industry?
Diversity and inclusion is something everyone is talking about. Real estate has historically been such that unfortunately most people look one way. Kids looking like me don't grow up and say, “Hey dad/mom, I want to be in the real estate world.” So really it is thinking about it much more broadly. So DEI is a hot topic. It's a buzzword, but really, it shouldn't be a buzzword. It should be part of life, right? It should be part of your DNA. You look at me, you look at the room around me and we are very different. To me, diversity is not based on the color of your skin. It's not based on if you're male or female, it's really about your experiences. To me, that's what makes us all unique. We need to bring in different cultures, different graduates, different experiences.
Think about our clients…our clients are different, right? When you look at the people at the table sitting across from you, wouldn't it be great if you have that relationship and you can talk about your past experience. So to me, that’s something that you just have to continue to evolve. But it can't just be a buzzword. It has to be part of your DNA. That to me is critical.
Is there is anything else you would like to share?
So I would say I'm fortunate to be here. I personally had a health scare three years ago. I decided to get up in my attic. And as my wife said, I didn't want to make smoothies that night. But the reality is, I fell through a 16-foot drywall headfirst onto a concrete floor. Fortunately I'm here, I'm standing. But during that time I was in a coma for three and a half weeks. There was one point when they told my wife to pull me off of support and fortunately, she said no. The only positive about it was I went from like six foot tall to six foot two, because I was laying so much! Now I'm back to six feet. So it was only for a few months, but it was the highlight of my life.
I had to learn how to walk, talk…wouldn't say cook, because I don't do that. But really it was a life-changing experience and I'm just fortunate to be here. And that goes back to looking at yourself in the mirror and think about all the positive in life.
What happened to me wasn't because I was doing something bad. It was a freak accident for sure. And really, I feel like from a personal standpoint, that we can share what happens in our lives with each other, the deeper the connections can be. Because of what happened to me, I listen to people more and I'm more patient when someone has a personal issue. I won't just feel like “whatever, that’s not my problem.” Now I'll be like, “Hey, how are you doing?” I'm not just saying it to say it. I actually feel that today, I make sure I listen, and I wouldn't have in the past. It makes you actually be a person. I'm not just a CIO, I'm actually somebody behind it. That means a lot.