"JLL is extremely well positioned to take advantage of India's rapidly transforming economy", says CEO & Country Head, JLL India
The Indian economy is at an inflection point, with the implementation of some gigantic policy changes in 2016 -17. The much awaited reforms aimed at curbing black money, increasing transparency and bringing in set processes, have led to global players keenly eyeing the Indian market. "It is a very exciting time for the Indian real estate sector", says Ramesh Nair, CEO and Country Head of JLL India. Real estate in India has drastically transformed over the past decade and is now steadily moving up the evolution curve with increased professionalism and regularization.
About two decades ago, JLL was one of the first international property consultancies to foray into the Indian market. Though India's dynamic real estate market has attracted a number of service players and property consultants since then, JLL's growth story in the country clearly mirrors the country's ever growing and transforming real estate landscape.
Today, JLL is the largest professional services firm in real estate advisory, transactions, management and consulting business in India. With a talented workforce of professionals across the length and breadth of the country, it advises more than 250 companies from the Fortune 500 list and serves more than 80 from amongst the Fortune 100 organisations.
Having spent more than 18 years with the firm, Nair is one of the key people instrumental in the firm's successful transformation and evolution as a global leader in the real estate advisory and services space. JLL's contributions to the real estate industry leave a noticeable mark in the country. The firm's achievements have enabled it to become a brand, which people love and clients trust.
Nair was one of the first handful of people who were a part of the firm when it set-up shop in India, then joining the firm in 1999 as an analyst in the firm's Chennai office. From this entry-level position to the top slot, Nair has risen through the ranks with an unwavering focus on his and his teams' performance, a journey, that was undoubted riddles with many challenges.
"There are times when business is challenging, especially in the real estate sector which has seen so many twists and turns in the last few years. That's when you get hands on, work really hard, be honest and keep trying" shares Nair. He feels that it is important at such times for such a large firm to stay focused on improving productivity, be patient and have flexible strategies that can be tweaked and results measured.
JLL is a people centric organisation. "Our success is built on hiring, retaining and motivating the best people", he says. Globally JLL has a presence in over 80 countries with over 280 corporate offices. The workforce in India alone sums up to 9,400 team members working across all major cities. JLL has recently expanded operations to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and aims to expand in newer markets and set-up further specializations in the near future.
"Our culture is highly collaborative and driven by our core values – teamwork, ethics and excellence. At JLL, people are energized and excited about the work they do because we give them the freedom, and the opportunity to confront challenges, as well as try to match each person's strength to job requirements. We not only ensure employee recognition and reward the doers, but also help develop critical competencies – while focussing on results, personal capability, character, and interpersonal skills. When people stretch themselves to understand their true potential, they find a larger purpose in their work life which is to give the best real estate advice", says Nair.
It is for this reason that various league tables and recognition platforms have acknowledged the company for its excellent work culture and employee satisfaction. According to a recent survey by Great Place to Work Institute and The Economic Times, JLL India ranks amongst the 'Best Companies to Work For' in the Country.
"We are a people's business and our people are at the core of what we do. If you work on people to explore their talents and bring out their strengths, they will give you their best. The idea is to create an environment, where people can be comfortable with who they are, have a sense of belonging, the ability to collaborate and are motivated by their leaders who are focused on organisation building", says Nair.
Ambitions build on achievements
"Our brand is a precious asset that differentiates us from competition. It adds value by helping us understand our strengths and ambitions to serve their needs, whether they are a client, shareholder, JLL employee or a stakeholder. More than a logo or tagline, it is a clear and consistent statement of who we are and what we stand for and the value we provide to people." says Nair.
JLL's 250-year old legacy means that most of its clients are long-standing global firms, that expect nothing but the best. Nair adds, "Our clients belong to diverse sectors, vary in capacity and complexity. They approach us with many unique sets of requirements and ambitions. We are proud of the fact that our service delivery, approach towards the key asks and quality of deliverables is universally strong across clients and sectors."
The Firm continues to deliver outstanding services to its clients and offer innovative, sustainable solutions, aiming to become a full-service one-stop solution provider, catering to all real estate needs. Add to it the implementation of best-in-class technologies, and their service offering will be one of the biggest game changers in the Indian real estate market. Commenting on his ambition for the firm, Nair states "My vision is to create a firm which is client obsessed, with talented people who have strong industry and product specializations, and are enabled by a very strong technology platform, a firm which offers a one stop solution to cater to all our clients' needs. And a firm where everyone asks himself/herself every day – What did I do today to exceed client expectations?"
What lies ahead?
The changing regulatory environment in the country has finally opened up the potential in the real estate sector. With developments around Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) and foreign investments in the sector in the past couple of years surpassing the combined investments in the last decade, the Indian real estate market is now under spotlight. That, in addition to India's rank in the global transparency index is going up, is hinting at increased professionalism in the Indian real estate sector.
Commenting on transparency, Nair says, "Professionalism is a function of quality and trusted advice. The number of clients who work with us and continue to work with us through the years is a testament to our quality of advice and service delivery". Globally, JLL has been named 'World's Most Ethical Company' for the 10th consecutive year. "We are responsible towards our employees, shareholders, clients and the communities in which we operate to maintain the reputation for the highest ethical standards that has been the foundation for our 250-year history. Indian real estate will be seen as a professional Industry when we have more companies with extremely high standards of corporate governance and reporting and quality of operating controls" he adds.
JLL is well positioned to capitalize on the business scenario driven by the new regulatory environment owing to rapid technology adaption. "We have always focused on increasing our productivity and providing more client specific insights. We set bold ambitions and ruthless priorities! Our clients are constantly expecting more value and advice, governed by their long-term perspective. With our increasing focus on technology and data, we are able to leverage our human capital to provide enhanced value for our clients within the same time. Whilst we continue to be the market leaders in most asset classes, our tech-driven platform will enable us to increase the gap even more from the other players in the market." says Nair
JLL has continuously worked on its key priorities to build the path for next five years. This also involves evaluation of strategies and their reframing. Also termed as the I-10 Strategic Priorities, they act as a blueprint for the firm's success over the short and medium-term. The firm's key focus areas include implementation of a tech driven CRM platform, the launch of new specialized services and practice groups. Additionally, priority is also on activating areas of corporate social responsibility.
"We continue to improve our quality of advice and delivery. We have been successful in creating an organizational structure which has more accountability, straight pattern service delivery that works through collaboration and less duplication. We thus aim to enhance business growth through capturing market share, growth in client delivery and increased market penetration through specialized services.", he comments.
As the industry advances towards professionalism, technology will play a key role in its future. The Firm's technology-based solutions and data-driven centralization and segmentation methodologies have already become the yardstick for the industry. Nair believes, this will drive the growth in future and help clients and the industry at large.
Thanking four of his predecessor CEOs, who have done a great job in growing the business and platform over the last 20 years, Nair believes excellent talent and performance management will only take the team he already trusts and is proud of,to newer horizons of growth and success.
According to Nair, it is people who matter the most. He believes that when you are surrounded by smart people, it is important to empower them to take decisions by giving them the creative and operational freedom to run their own processes such that they bring about the most growth.
"It is simple." He says. "Just ask yourself- How can you help people succeed. I always urge our leaders to serve their teams and to help them succeed. It is important to remember that people should be happy about themselves when they are working with you. It is also important to be humble, have integrity and believe that you always have something new to learn. If your team or clients know something you don't, learn it from them. That's how you grow." he adds.
With Nair's vision, it is definite that JLL will continue to lead within the real estate investment and consulting space. And in the process help their clients' Achieve their Ambitions.