1. How long have you been in the real estate industry and how did you come to join Colliers International?

Over the past 14 years, I have been involved in a wide spectrum of roles in the interior industry – ranging from supplier to designer to client-based project manager. I was headhunted by Colliers International to join its Project Management team a couple of years ago after having worked with the firm on a project in 2010 and had developed a good relationship. 

2. What would you say are the three biggest pitfalls in project management and how can clients overcome them?

The most common pitfalls are: a) Budget management; b) Time management; and c) Communication management. These are three key elements that could affect the outcome of the entire project.  Interestingly, many firms tend to overlook their importance and under-estimate the complexity of the project and tasks – be it managing an office move or fitting out new premises.

Due to the general perception that project management is a straight forward and easy process, there is a tendency for clients to say: “Why can’t we do this internally?”. The truth is, running a project without a trained and experienced project manager is risky and often leads to the project going off budget, off schedule, or both. This will, in turn have an impact on the client’s strategic goals. Project management is a highly specialised field and having a well-thought through project plan can make a different between success or failure. 

In our discussions with clients, we would take them through the benefits of working with a professional project management team and help them understand the need for a consultant to lead their project and to mitigate potential risks. Unfortunately, not all organisations see a need to hire project management consultant.

3. In what way will technology advancement and push for sustainability change the way you work?

Technological advancement and the growing focus on sustainability are changing the entire workplace industry. As project managers, we need to understand these trends, know the business motivation behind their implementation, and stay at the forefront of any changes in order to better advise the clients. 

Increasingly, smarter technologies are being developed to integrate with building services and the office environment to drive sustainability strategies, it is important that we understand the basic requirements of such technologies. For instance, E-filing reduces the need for physical storage, which in turn helps to save on real estate space and cost. This is just one simple example of how technology can impact the overall project budget.

As for the office sustainability strategies, it could range from the physical deployment of recycling bins to more complex work such as the implementation of light sensors to save energy consumption. Project managers today need to have a good working knowledge of evolving real estate trends and related methodologies before we can work with the clients on executing their projects. 

4. Which aspects of your job do you find most exciting or rewarding?

The most rewarding aspect of a being a project manager is seeing a project from conceptualisation stage all the way to physical completion of the work – taking it from start to finish. From the client brief, to scoping out the work in detail, the physical fit-out and finally handing over the project to a satisfied client. 

There are bound to be challenges and obstacles throughout the project implementation. It is very satisfying when you are able to problem-solve and overcome whatever challenges that come your way. That said, I think the overall sense of accomplishment still comes from the successful delivery of an entire project and getting the recognition from a client. That, to me, is the best reward a project manager can receive.

5. What is your management style?

I do not really have a “management style” per se. I prefer a more collaborative approach to work. I would like for co-workers to make decisions about how to move forward on the projects, and they could seek guidance from me if needed. Employees are independent of their managers and they should be empowered to drive their own projects. I believe this approach allows individuals the much-needed space to be creative and be more resourceful in the way they work and resolve issues. I also believe that the old style of top-down management approach is no longer suitable with the new generation of workers. Everyone needs to work as a team and grow as a team.