1. How long have you been in the real estate industry and how did you come to join Colliers International?
I have worked in real estate since 2001, when I started leasing houses to fellow students in Oxford, England. I moved from residential leasing, to real estate development and investment in London and then to commercial real estate. This provided me with a deep and comprehensive experience in multiple segments of the real estate business.
I came to Singapore in 2006 and was highly involved in advising global clients, including many multinational corporations on their corporate real estate strategies in Singapore. I have seen a tremendous growth and change in Singapore’s corporate real estate market and I believe it continues to be a dynamic sector with exciting opportunities.
I joined Colliers in June 2015 - attracted by its growth potential as a large global platform, and a recently listed company that was undergoing huge change. I saw Colliers as a very interesting next step for me and my opinion has not changed since I came onboard.
2. Based on your experience, what were some of the major changes in the industry and how did you adapt to them?
Occupiers are consistently looking for more efficient, flexible, productive and cost-effective ways to occupy space. This is encouraging and exciting, as the role of a corporate real estate advisor has shifted from the lone-wolf super broker world, to an integrated service delivery, working with Workplace Strategy, Design, Project Management, Change Management and Wellness as well as strategic transaction and negotiations to finalise and secure the best possible solution(s) available.
The industry is evolving faster today than in previous decades, this pushes all stakeholders to embrace the need to be more creative, flexible and to have an enhanced understanding of occupiers and the clients on a much broader basis beyond just physical real estate.
3. Looking ahead, which segments do you think are likely to offer more exciting opportunities in Singapore office market in the next two to three years, and why?
The Flexible Workspace sector has clearly had a significant impact on the Singapore office market, as well as all global markets. However, it is the next generation of Flexible Workspace that truly interests me, and where I believe holds the greatest change to how occupiers, both small and large approach their real estate portfolios, always striving for flexibility in leases and minimizing the risk exposure.
Along with the ever-growing and powerful Tech industry, we will see Singapore as a core focus for many industries in the near and long-term approach. Singapore is well-positioned to remain attractive to the majority of sectors due to its strategic geographical location, as well as political and economic stability. That is where we expect to see a broad-based growth.
4. What are some potential challenges or risks that stakeholders in the office sector need to watch out for?
I think the market is well aware of the challenges arising from technology and digital transformation, as well as evolving trends around talent and the new way of work. We keep a close watch on these emerging trends and seek to provide timely and relevant advice to clients around the opportunities and threats that may be on the horizon.
However, I have observed that the most common and often underestimated risk is time, and not having enough of it, particularly when lease expiry is looming. Leaving it late to discuss lease renewal or relocation decision brings with it a myriad of risks which inevitably negatively impact the occupier’s real estate strategy.
Continuous and early reviews of lease portfolios enable a proactive approach to secure the optimum positioning and solutions, rather than just relying on expiry dates to drive strategy and negotiations.
5. How would you describe your management style? What are the top five most important leadership attributes in today’s business environment?
I would say that my management style is best described as “ever-evolving”, it has to! However, some things never change: we are all in it together, we can do anything when we identify and combine our strengths.
Day to day, I enjoy being close to deals, close to the team and understanding the nuances of each pursuit or transaction to help advise and mentor where I can. By being close to your team, you are also able to learn new ways to approach all situations.
Someone in a management role is not and should not believe they are right all the time. Best practice evolves, new ideas can be the best ideas. It is the role of management to then weave it together to create the next wave of best practices.
Five important leadership attributes are:
• Know your team
• Empathise and be transparent and engaged
• Develop and grow together
• Push and drive towards aspirational, but believable and achievable goals
• Be there, even when it is tough