It certainly isn’t an overstatement to say that Chris White is a real estate expert with a vast and diverse experience. The Senior Director and Head of Project Management at Colliers in Singapore had assumed multiple roles throughout his career of more than 25 years. Find out why he describes himself as someone with a “can-do” attitude and how that has translated into achievements both at work and in his personal life.
If you have not interacted with Chris personally, it is easy to misconstrue his measured demeanour for reticence. However, as our conversation gathers momentum, he presents himself as a person who is deeply passionate about what he pursues in life and exudes energy as he talks about them.
Not many would have known that the senior project management expert actually began his career as an architect, and was responsible for designing numerous high-end residential and hotel projects over a period of 15 years. While that has provided him with a solid foundation in design and construction, his career in the real estate industry was just about to take flight.
"Clients are looking for our guidance and advice, and with my all-round experience of more than 20 years, there really aren’t too many situations that I haven’t been exposed to."
“Over time, I progressed into more management roles, and these ultimately led me to take up project and development management positions in Australia and the United States,” says Chris, who was responsible for the delivery of a AUD200 million residential apartment complex, while working with PDG Corporation based in Melbourne.
He later relocated to Singapore in 2015 and joined a large real estate consultancy as Sales Director of the local project management team, before joining Colliers in October this year. He opines: “That role allowed me to utilise all of my previous experience and provide tangible solutions to our clients. It also exposed me to the local players in the market and helped to quickly establish my network of clients, vendors and consultants.”
Being an all-rounder makes a difference
Chris believes that his diverse industry experience has brought him to his current position, as it enables him to advise clients and other internal stakeholders with the “big picture” in mind.
He explains: “Clients are looking for our guidance and advice, and with my all-round experience of more than 20 years, there really aren’t too many situations that I haven’t been exposed to. Because of this, I’m able to guide our clients and provide clear direction, while evaluating the situation from multiple perspectives.”
When asked why he chose to join Colliers, Chris says that he was attracted to the firm because some of his ex-colleagues had also moved across to Colliers and had spoken of the positive energy and collaborative environment.
"I’m looking to bring new people into the business, who will integrate well into our culture and build a team that has similar values, diverse experience, spans various age groups, and comprises both local and expatriates who respect each other as experts in their respective fields."
“The integrated and collaborative approach had been an important aspect in my previous company, but I truly feel that Colliers does it even better and people here are more open to providing an integrated solution, which ultimately benefits our clients,” says Chris, who also sees the opportunity to lead a growing project management business at Colliers as a significant pull-factor.
The “can-do” spirit at work and beyond
Growing his team and putting in place the structures that will allow the business to develop in strength and numbers in the foreseeable future, is what keeps Chris excited at work. In fact, this is also a reflection of his “can-do” spirit, which has helped him score multiple achievements at work and in his personal life.
“I’m looking to bring new people into the business, who will integrate well into our culture and build a team that has similar values, diverse experience, spans various age groups, and comprises both local and expatriates who respect each other as experts in their respective fields. Most importantly, they must be people who also have a determined personality like myself and are client-focused and intent on providing solutions, not just following processes," he says.
Chris’ “can-do” spirit is not just evident at work but also in his personal life.
In a recent effort to raise funds to help a cycling teammate who had been diagnosed with the incurable Motor Neurons Disease (MND), Chris and his teammates rode more than 27,000 kilometres over 27 days, and ascended Mount Faber 27 times, as part of the Fight MND 27 Challenge. The Australia-based charity supports medical research and provides care equipment for people living with MND. Sufferers of MND typically only have an average life expectancy of 27 months after diagnosis.
The team’s effort contributed more than AUD35,000 raised in funds for the campaign and shows yet another facet of Chris’ resolute personality.
The office remains important but needs to evolve for the better
As much as COVID-19 has shown that working from home is possible, it has also underscored the fact that coming together to collaborate and interact in the office is essential.
In Chris’ view, it is important for companies to be able to re-design their offices to better facilitate meaningful interaction and collaboration. He says: “True collaboration is really only facilitated in person and providing an environment that is both engaging and conducive for open communication will be key to achieving the best outcomes for any organisation.”
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