Article: Real Estate in India Embarking on its Global Journey


Real Estate in India Embarking on its Global Journey

Joyce Phillips, Global Head HR; Anurag Mathur, MD and Reena Wahi, Director – HR, Cushman & Wakefield, share their views on the evolution of the Indian real estate industry, and the need to overcome the challenges on attracting the right talent to make their presence felt in the global platform

The long term focus is to work on becoming more effective and efficient in our people initiatives and to make the globalization agenda possible


“Today's talent is looking for more than just a job – they want a career, while historically the real estate industry has not been wellstructured to provide this”


Joyce Phillips, Global Head HR; Anurag Mathur, MD and Reena Wahi, Director – HR, Cushman & Wakefield, share their views on the evolution of the Indian real estate industry, and its challenges on attracting the right talent that will enable organizations in this industry to make their presence felt in the global platform

The Indian Real Estate industry started to come of age around early 2000 which also marked the beginning of a new phase of growth for Indian and multi national corporations in India. This growth required the Indian real estate market to grow at a never before pace to meet the requirements of office, retail and residential spaces. Also with multinationals entering/expanding in India, there was a requirement of structured, professionally managed real estate services to not only acquire (on sale/lease) space, but also to manage and maintain them. The organized part of this industry is where International Property Consultancies (IPC) started to operate by providing professionally managed services of the highest quality to the developers and occupants. These service providers to the real estate industry are bringing about a change in the way the industry is viewed in India currently, by taking the industry to a more professional mode of functioning.

The real estate industry in India fundamentally has 3-4 stakeholders – the developers; others who fund real estate; buyers or investors of real estate; and real estate service providers. The services in this industry include an array of activities such as professional services like consulting, advisory, valuation for clients (clients could be any of the stakeholders mentioned); brokerage transactions, which form a very large revenue component as it brings volume of business; and property/ facility management, as well as other specialized services like hospitality, retail, residential, etc.

Cushman & Wakefield has been in the real estate services providers’ space in India for over a decade and has been a major catalyst in helping the Indian real estate sector mature and organize itself better. The company operates in India with a staff strength of over 1,300 employees and has 9 offices across 8 major locations in India. Starting out with only 10 employees, the company has grown its employee base to provide superior services to their clients.

The globalization phase
The globalization initiatives at C&W aim at not only taking the organization to its next growth phase but will also to have an impact on how the real estate industry will evolve to a more mature stage. This is being done by driving transparency across its core activities.

As markets change and become more global, flexibility in terms of being able to move people across geographies will help in meeting the changing needs of clients. In order to create a highly co-ordinated and aligned global organization that will enable C&W to provide high quality and creative real estate services to its customers, a common point created through the globalization process will help in addressing local as well as global client needs seamlessly.

The HR strategy is not looked at in isolation and people and leadership is a part of the organizational culture. The long term focus is to work on becoming more effective and efficient in our people initiatives and to make the globalization agenda possible. This can be done by creating a culture where people feel a part of the organization and want to embark on the organization’s success journey because they see value in it and drive that kind of a culture. The key idea is to enable employees to truly understand how they can contribute to the larger business plan through their day to day activities. Hence, there is a need to look at performance collectively and assess it under common parameters for the organization as a whole. To achieve this, the foremost job is to align the organizational objectives to the individual capabilities.

The new globally aligned core performance management process has been designed in line with the strategic business plan developed by the leadership team. In this process, the CEO defines the goals and objectives first, which is then cascaded to the management committee, and they prepare their goals and objectives to meet that business plan, which is then cascaded to the rest of the organization. The objectives flow to the last employee of the chain to ensure that everyone is integrated with the initial global business objective. This is also done across global regions and follows a global calendar for all activities so that all programs and processes can take place collectively. Therefore, when people perform their individual goals and objectives, they are actually aligned to the overall business goals and objectives.

The evaluation, where the usual focus has always been on sales and brokerage, financial achievement metrics is now moving towards taking a more balanced approach of looking at financials, quality client interaction and growth plans. This global integration process of PMP will help C&W in becoming a truly global high performance organization.
However , the performance management process is not just about performance review but also feeds other activities that enable evaluation of competencies, and in turn, helps identify training and development needs, into an overall talent management strategy.

As the industry moves into the next phase of globalization, where the focus will be on creating a system which will allow easy entry and exit of global workforce for strategic places and positions, companies need to prepare themselves internally to cater to talent mobility. For example, someone who has worked in a matured western market can add value to an emerging market in India, where that experience is directly valid and significant. While this is a common practice across other industries, C&W would like to pioneer such progressive HR practices in the real estate industry and thereby try to bring about a mindset change in the manner in which this industry is viewed traditionally.

The talent strategies
While this is a matured and organized sector elsewhere in the world, the industry is still at a nascent stage in India with less than 15 years of existence which brings along its own set of challenges and opportunities for organizations in this industry.
Being a new niche industry, the initial challenge was finding the right talent pool and skilled professionals for this industry and also attracting quality talent as real estate in India was not the most sought after career for the Indian youth.
Traditionally, the real estate industry was very transactional or brokerage-oriented, and therefore heavily driven by financial results and incentives, which were linked to the financial performance of the front line brokerage and sales staff. However in the last 10 years, the real estate industry has matured in India with newer and more global players coming into the market or existing ones consolidating their positions. Hence, the challenges of attraction and retention of talent have grown manifold in a sector which has not established its employment brand firmly. Today’s talent is looking for more than just a job – they want to know what is in it for them, their career path, etc., and historically the real estate industry has not been well-structured to provide this.

Therefore, an integrated HR and talent strategy will create a professional and globally aligned workforce comprising of people with different skill sets, with opportunities to provide careers across the globe, robust career paths, and structured employee development initiatives, and this in turn will help in establishing a firm employment brand in the Indian market. Such initiatives in the industry will enable real estate organizations to move up the value chain, and thereby propel this industry to become a preferred career option. The long term aim is to develop and grow the organization as well as its competitors, stakeholders and the industry as a whole.

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Topics: C-Suite

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