An effective project manager has to be an all-rounder who can lead, organise, manage, trouble-shoot, and multi-task all at once. Find out what motivates Kok Boon to consistently strive to deliver the best outcomes for the clients.
1. How long have you been in the real estate industry and how did you come to join Colliers International?
I joined Colliers in 2010, with some help from Lady Luck, it seemed. There was stiff competition for the job opening then; I was told that I was not their top pick. It was disappointing to have narrowly missed out on the opportunity. However, I was subsequently informed that I got the job as Colliers had to hire more people because they just secured another big project from a client, which Colliers still serves to this day.
Prior to joining Colliers, I spent several years in the interior design industry, taking on different roles including managing carpenters and vendors to overseeing regional retail furniture deployment and project management in an ID firm. I think the experience and know-how acquired in those jobs have helped me in my current role. Good project managers have to be multi-skilled and have a deep understanding of wide-ranging issues, be it clients’ business and operational goals, space utilisation strategies, and managing fit-out schedules and budget.
2. Why is it important for occupiers to work with an experienced and trustworthy project management team?
Different companies have different needs, business objectives, and work culture. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to project management, and it is important for occupiers to appoint a professional project manager who will look after their interest and to ensure that the project runs on time and on budget. A project can easily spiral out of control, resulting in unnecessary delays and extra costs if they are not managed well.
As project management consultants, we are independent and impartial, with no vested interest in any design firms or contractors. Trust, reliability and having transparent work processes are important in this business.
3. What do you think are some key trends that will reshape the real estate project management industry?
Sustainability of the built environment is a key focus among real estate sector players, from developers to occupiers and even material suppliers. In particular, the Green Mark certification – a scheme to recognise best practices in environmentally-friendly building design and performance - introduced by the Building and Construction Authority has really gained traction.
In recent years, I have noticed that many owners of older commercial buildings have incorporated Green Mark initiatives into their building fit-out requirements during asset enhancement works. Construction material suppliers are also aware of sustainability issues and most of them have attained Green Mark product certification. In addition, many of the designers that we work with have also made Green Mark certification an important part of their selection criteria when it comes to assessing which vendors to engage. Overall, I believe sustainability trends, as they evolve, will continue to transform the project management industry.
Another area that could reshape the project management sector is the growth of coworking. As more coworking centres come onto the market, they provide potential space options to occupiers who have out-grown their existing office space, and who may now choose to defer decisions to take on more space or move into another building. This, to some degree will have an impact on the business opportunities in the project management industry.
4. In your view, what are the three most important attributes of a great project manager?
Project management is a complex process, often involving multiple stakeholders and tight delivery timelines. An effective project manager has to be an all-rounder who can lead, organise, manage, trouble-shoot, and multi-task all at once.
I would say the key attributes of a great project manager are: good communication skills; ability to cope with pressure and stress; and being a jack-of-all trades.
5. What inspires you?
Successfully managing a project from end-to-end, and the satisfaction of transforming an empty and bare space into an attractive and brand-new office inspire me greatly. Of course, I also garner a lot of satisfaction and a sense of achievement when clients express their gratitude for a job well done. Ultimately, it is about giving our best to help clients achieve an optimal outcome.