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Adolfo Ramírez-Escudero, President of CBRE Spain, gave a talk titled “Journey of Transformation” at the new session of Matins ESADE, sponsored by Bluecap. Matins ESADE provides moments for business reflection and is held by ESADE Alumni. The Matins cycle of talks gives the managers of leading companies the opportunity to give their vision of their sectors and of the firms they run.
Ramírez-Escudero, the President in Spain of CBRE — the leading international firm in the real estate consulting and services sector — covered the key points that helped his company consolidate its leadership in the industry, and re-engineer itself over the last few years. This achievement is all the more noteworthy in a sector that is being revolutionised by new technologies and new competitors.
Digitalisation: a key factor in the real estate sector
“The rapid digitalisation of the real estate sector is creating new approaches and concepts, such as the field as a service, the benefits of smart buildings, the automation of processes, and the emergence of new ways of working”, stressed Ramírez-Escudero.
Digitalisation is a key feature of CBRE’s Strategic Plan, which incorporates various initiatives such as CBRE Proptech, a collaborative Open Innovation digital platform focusing on the real estate sector. This year, the platform has been fully integrated and given its own tools (blog) for fostering the creation and consolidation of a growing community.
This tool provides a meeting point for the entrepreneurial eco-system, giving start-ups the chance to promote their Protech projects and expound their views. Here, Ramírez-Escudero explained that “CBRE Proptech exemplifies our willingness to use open eco-systems. It appeals to the sector as a whole and draws on our leadership as aggregators, presenting various initiatives and projects from all over the world and in all categories. The CBRE Proptech platform builds on business synergies in the real estate field and on technology in order to capture talent and enhance the sector”.
The company launched CBRE Proptech Challenge within this framework to create the first international competition for fostering the digital talent needed to revolutionise the real estate sector through creative, innovative ideas. The CBRE Proptech Challenge is now in its third edition. The President of CBRE Spain noted that “This competition has three goals: digital positioning; recruiting talent; offering services. It currently enjoys the support of six countries in CBRE’s European network, in which Spain has taken the lead in pushing through great changes”.
Co-creation and Open Eco-systems
Ramírez-Escudero also noted that "There are basically three big investment trends. The first is co-working, which implies flexible work — that is to say, creating versatile work areas that give talent and creativity free rein. The second is the use of data and knowledge. Third, there is staff and client experience. Nevertheless, other fields are also important, such as investment platforms (blockchain, crowd-funding), predictive analytics, and lending services”.
“We are currently focusing on transforming spaces, given that people no longer work only in the office”, he explained, adding that the design of a corporate headquarters is becoming ever more important. This is why CBRE Spain has advised big companies such as EY and KPMG on the design of their new headquarters. Ramírez-Escudero also cited the example of Axis, a new landmark on the Madrid skyline, in which they began working on an asset-disposal project for Barclays; later on, they got Norman Foster — the world-renowned architect — to take a hand in the design. Finally, they found a new tenant in the form of CaixaBank, which “quickly grasped and fully understood the transformation that is taking place".
“Axis is a 'fluid' building' rather than an 'office building'. The project is still under way and is having an impact on Madrid, improving the city in the process — something we have also achieved in Barcelona and Bilbao”, he concluded.
Ramírez-Escudero also gave his CBRE Spain’s own headquarters as an example, where the same vision was applied in terms of layout. “It involved a flexible use of space in which fixed work stations were scrapped. This highlights our values: teamwork, meritocracy, and so on. We are now tackling 'client experience', inviting customers to work on our premises.”
During his talk at Matins ESADE, Ramírez-Escudero reviewed the 2016-2019 Plan and its achievements, such as tripling turnover, re-organising the companies' business areas, and using communication and symbols to convey the corporate culture (colours, building signage, use of English, and so on). He went on to say that the 2019-2022 Plan would further co-creation, blurring company boundaries by fostering Open Creation eco-systems. “One needs to chart a course, which in CBRE lasts three years (1,000 days). That is because we see five years as too long for planning purposes, and three years as too short to make changes”.
He ended his talk by mentioning that sustainable development would soon become a vital goal.
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