1. Have you always been in the real estate industry and how did you come to join Colliers?
I graduated with a Banking and Finance degree and was in private equity in the initial years, analyzing every sector except real estate. It was around 2003, when I joined a stock brokerage to cover the real estate equities sector, that kindled my love for real estate. The rest as they say is history.
The next 13 years were a fruitful journey – with the chance to visit an assortment of properties including glitzy malls, office towers, residential projects, industrial and hospitality assets as well as meet clients all over the world. However, the hours are typically long with frequent traveling - not ideal when I just had a young daughter.
In late-2016, I met Colliers International’s managing director Tang Wei Leng through a mutual business associate and heard that she was looking to build a research team, separate from the firm’s consulting business. I realised that we share a similar vision and I felt I could add value to the Colliers. So, I took the plunge to switch to an upstream role.
2. What do you find most fulfilling about your job?
The most fulfilling part of my job is being able to apply my financial analysis skills and knowledge to Colliers Research and help to transform the way traditional research has been done. Previously, research was more of a back-end function, and the reports were a “showcase” of consulting capabilities.
Now, Colliers Research is client-facing, and seen as a business enabler across the firm’s business lines. Our forward-thinking reports and presentations add value to our occupier, landlord and investor clients, offering relevant insights and findings that will help them in assessing the market and make more informed decisions.
In addition, I like that I have a front-row seat to the evolution in Singapore real estate, documenting the ups and downs of the property cycles, and being able to advise my internal clients – our business lines - and external clients based on historical data and calculated/educated forecasts.
3. How do you see the role of research evolving in an ever-changing business environment?
In an era where there is abundant free information, it is essential for research to differentiate its role. Not only is research about collating data, it is about analysing the data, putting them into context and interpreting them in a way that would useful for our clients.
Research plays an important role, particularly in a dynamic business environment. It provides in-depth information and data that helps the business evaluate the market, benchmark performance and make forecasts.
And it is not just about tracking what happened in the past, Colliers Research is creating forward-looking content, taking stock of emerging trends, and presenting them confidently to our clients as well. Going forward, I envisage the role to continue to evolve, and to eventually create and develop leads for the business lines.
4. What is the first leadership lesson you have learnt? Who is your leadership hero?
The first leadership lesson I have learnt is to have clear communication within the team. Although I do not have a big team reporting to me, but I believe regular meetings are necessary to make sure communication is not partial and information or instructions are equivalently shared. This can also cut down any inefficiencies and miscommunication. I encourage my team to speak up and to share their experiences or feedback, so we all gain from learning from one another.
5. What is your management style?
I would like to be known as someone who can strike a balance. My leadership style should not depend on one type of management. It should balance multiple attributes. And I think this quote from Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur and author, sums it up quite well: "The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly."