All week, Inman is taking a Deep Dive into Keller Williams. We’re talking to key executives, unpacking its strategic moves and reporting live from the virtual KW Mega Camp, with the goal of telling you everything you need to know about KW right now. Watch for future Inman Deep Dives into top brokerages coming in the months ahead.
Just days after Keller Williams President Marc King argued that agent education is one of the main things that sets his company apart, the franchisor announced a slew of new leadership appointments that indicate it’s leaning hard into both training and teams.
James Shaw, Keller Williams’ vice president of learning
The announcement was made as part of Keller Williams’ Mega Camp, an annual gathering that this year is happening virtually thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Four different people are moving into new roles as a result of the announcement. First, James Shaw will now serve as Keller Williams’ vice president of learning.
Shaw joined the company in 2005 and previously served as an agent, team leader, market center leader, coach, regional leader and Keller Williams University faculty member.
According to a statement, Shaw will now “oversee KW’s holistic training direction, reshaping its capabilities while maintaining its strong culture.”
Jay Papasan, vice president of strategic content
Second, Jay Papasan is stepping into the role of vice president of strategic content. Papasan — who has been a frequent presence on the Mega Camp stage this week — previously served as vice president of learning, which is the role Shaw is now stepping into.
As the head of Keller Williams’ strategic content, Papasan will “lead efforts to extend Keller’s bestselling book series, create training and mastermind content for top performers, launch new podcasts, and co-host events,” the statement notes.
Meredith Maples, senior director of Keller William University
Third, Meredith Maples will become senior director of Keller William University (KWU). Maples has been at Keller Williams for just over five years and most recently worked as a director of training at the company. Before joining Keller Williams, she worked as an instructional designer for MAXIMUS, which provides services for government agencies.
Cody Gibson, director of expansion, Keller Williams Expansion Network
And finally, Cody Gibson has been appointed director of expansion for the Keller Williams Expansion Network. Gibson is the CEO of two real estate companies, Portland Real Estate Group and the United Home Group, that together have 109 offices. He will retain that role, but will now also work on building up a program that is designed to help agents expand their teams beyond their home turf.
In the statement, King said Wednesday that Keller Williams is “known as the number one real estate brand for training and as the home of top real estate teams.”
“That continues to be true because we have assembled a team of strong leaders who share a vision,” King added.
The announcement comes just days after King indicated in an interview with Inman that agent training is at the core of what Keller Williams does best.
“We have a focus and emphasis on how we train our agents to be a better fiduciary in the field,” King said. “We are known for our training. Our Keller Williams University has won countless awards. Keller Williams has won best training company constantly. So that’s what we believe we do at a very high level.”
King made the comments after being asked why real estate agents won’t become obsolete in a world with more technology. And Wednesday’s executive appointments show that Keller Williams is willing to bet resources on the idea that training and agent education are the ways to keep real estate professionals at the core of the housing industry.
Gibson’s appointment is also significant because it indicates that Keller Williams is similarly betting on teams. The company announced its Expansion Network in July, saying in a statement at the time that the goal was to “maximize operational efficiencies for teams and offer a simplified, standardized compensation plan for expansion teams to grow into new markets.”
The Expansion Network launched at a critical time for teams; though Keller Williams pioneered the teams concept decades ago, it has since also become central to a number of rival firms who are using teams to grow their own market share. There is, in other words, a kind of race in the industry going on right now to see which company can build the best environment for teams and which can subsequently attract the biggest producers.
Keller Williams’ launch of its Expansion Network, along with Wednesday’s announcement of a new director within the program, indicates Keller Williams does not intend to lose that race.
As Inman also previously noted, executive appointments are a good bellwether for understanding which direction a company will move in. Wednesday’s announcement, then, further reinforces the idea that Keller Williams sees teams and training as among its strongest competitive advantages.
Time will tell what ultimately happens, but in Wednesday’s statement King expressed excitement about all the new leadership appointments.
“We’re excited to announce that James, Jay, and Meredith will now be taking up the mantle of creating new, unrivaled learning experiences that extend across the KW ecosystem,” King said.
“A proven expansion team leader, we’re thrilled also to announce Cody as our director of expansion for our KW Expansion Network. He is a model for the mindset of unlimited growth, and that’s what our exciting new value proposition for expansion teams is all about.”
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