“We’re all looking to cluster around shaping the future of real estate for a better world – that’s our North Star.”
Times certainly are a changing. Not just in terms of leadership, technology and globalisation but in the very nature of business itself. I really can’t imagine an interview at the start of my career that would have ended with a statement like that from a senior figure in real estate.
Profit has been joined by another P, Purpose. Real Estate is going to lead how we shape our world and is increasingly being led by those who are ever more mindful of it.
One of these is Alistair Meadows of JLL, the global commercial real estate services company that employs over 91,000 employees in offices in 80 countries. “As the Head of Investor-Developer Clients, Meadows is a member of JLL’s UK Management Board, with responsibility for its Client Growth Programme and management of key client relationships. Additional Board responsibility include sponsorship of JLL’s Life Sciences strategy.”
“We’re thinking what does the next 3-5 years hold and how we clearly define our purpose.”
For JLL there seems a very strong focus on how its skills and expertise can be best utilised as we pivot out of pandemic in the UK.
“Retail, leisure and hospitality have been particularly hard hit whilst on the other end of the spectrum industrial logistics has been the most resilient sector.
“Life Sciences is particularly interesting as a rapidly emerging sector,” Meadows says.
“ Our demand drivers are more Life Sciences space for big pharma companies and a rise in early stage and start up businesses. There is a great demand for space and an exponential rise in investor demand.”
“Because of the specialist nature of how you develop that space, the theme of partnership is really key marrying equity and expertise. We are constantly thinking globally, sharing knowledge and insights through our worldwide network to our people and our clients.”
Talking with Meadows there are some very defined themes that dominate and one of them is this sense of partnership. “Out of this pandemic that theme of collaboration and partnership is going to be particularly true both as a corporate and as an advisor to clients.
“My conversations in the market are about collaboration and partnership,” he adds. “Both in a capital markets context and around joint ventures melding skills and expertise.”
Another key theme is JLL’s focus on ESG and, as Meadows observes, especially the “S”.
“The perspective as a market leader has changed with sustainability increasingly apparent. How we support our employees over the last 12 months has been key and we are thinking ever more holistically about our role in society and the communities that we work in – these are at the front of our ESG strategy.”
How important that is to JLL is embodied in the recent move by former JLL CEO Guy Grainger stepping into a global role overseeing the company’s sustainability helping its clients activate their sustainability objectives and providing the relevant services and products.
Along with technology growth and integration as either an enabler or disrupter, Meadows sees ESG and sustainability as a major driver over the next 3-5 years. “We are just at the start of that journey but the pandemic has accelerated the focus and prioritised sustainability across every organisation from private sector to government.”
Collaboration very much forms a theme for Meadows’s style of personal leadership. “It’s important to understand and appreciate that everyone’s circumstances over the past year have been different. From a leadership point of view then it’s about how can you individually and collectively provide the best support to colleagues to help navigate through their challenges.
“Listen. Hear. Respond. React. Communication and empathy and are other key themes. Listening, taking on board feedback and responding to that through clear and consistent communication.”
A message that JLL has recently clearly communicated has been the message to market that senior leadership hires do not have to come from inside the industry nor conform to the male stereotype with the appointment of Stephanie Hyde as UK CEO.
Her appointment signals a transformational chapter at JLL in the UK, the company’s second largest market, at a time when real estate is growing in prominence.
She joined JLL in Spring 2021 following 25 years at PwC. Her role at JLL is to lead the UK business and continue to strengthen JLL’s position as the technology focused and market leading real estate advisor.
“As an industry we have a roughly 50/50 gender intake but that’s not the same balance at senior level. Stephanie’s joining is a great appointment in not only how to deal with that issue – the first female leader of one of the UK’s major real estate advisors – and she demonstrates how we are actioning and accelerating the changes needed to create greater diversity and inclusion.”
Which leads us on to the shift in style of leadership.
“There has been significant a significant change in leadership style that I’ve seen over my career. When I started leaders were more the command and control type with less of a consultative approach and ability to provide feedback. This didn’t make them bad leaders.
“The biggest shift has been a broader and deeper leadership group. This tends to provide more diverse thinking. Teams with more diversity are ultimately more productive and generate better outcomes with leadership not reliant upon one individual. Leadership has definitely become more open minded with less of a fixed mindset – open to ideas and solutions.”