Colonial PropertiesIn his first visit to the UAB School of Business, Colonial Properties Trust Chief Operating Officer Paul Earle told students that great leaders know how to focus both small groups and large groups of people on their organization’s vision. Earle met with students in the combined undergraduate capstone and MBA class “Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite” on November 6, 2012.

Colonial Properties Trust is a publicly-traded real estate investment trust headquartered in Birmingham that owns and operates about 110 multifamily residential properties in the Sunbelt part of the United States. Mr. Earle explained to students that over the past several years the company has refocused its strategy primarily in this sector of the real estate market, after formerly also owning and operating commercial and office properties. Colonial Properties Trust continues to own Brookwood Mall in Birmingham, where it is developing a new Target store set to open in 2013.

Mr. Earle also stressed the importance of his company’s values in achieving the success of its strategic plan, calling them the “glue that holds everything together.” Importantly, the first of Colonial Properties Trust’s values is placing the customer first. Earle told students that to demonstrate his own commitment to that value, he gives his home telephone number to residents of the over 33,000 apartments owned by the company.

A group of students presented their own analysis of Colonial Properties Trust’s strategy to Mr. Earle after he made his remarks. They also made recommendations to Mr. Earle including that the company consider even more amenities for its apartment communities. Earle agreed with the students’ recommendation and noted that the company had recently included a sophisticated “dog park” in its new Colonial Grand Hampton Preserve apartment community in Tampa.

“Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite” is taught by School of Business professor Stephen Yoder and by UAB Vice Provost Harlan Sands, and features visits from members of the executive suites of public or other large complex organizations who discuss their organizations’ strategies and how they are developed and implemented.

Pictured left to right: Lance Beverly, Dominique Johnson Lindsay, Mr. Earle, Roshni Panchal, Ashley Murdoch, Lauren Beauchamp and Patrick Whittington