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Rising to the top of real estate management

Ramesh Nair, CEO-India and MD, Market Development, Asia, Colliers

With 25 years of industry experience, Ramesh Nair, CEO-India and MD, Market Development, Asia, Colliers leads a diverse team of 3,000 dedicated and well-connected professionals in 11 offices, who deliver real-estate solutions to domestic and multinational occupiers, owners and investors across India. After over two decades in the real estate management sector, he recently returned to Colliers, where he began his career. He tells us about his new role, focus areas, push for digitisation and what clients want today.

Please brief us about Colliers India and your role in the company.

Colliers is a leading diversified professional services and investment management company with operations in 66 countries, providing expert advice to real estate occupiers, owners and investors. It is India’s fastest growing international property consultancy and has offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, NCR, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Trivandrum.

I have taken over as the CEO-India and MD, Market Development, Asia after over 24 years of experience in the real estate industry. I have worked across asset classes such as office, land, retail, residential, warehousing and logistics, industrial, data centres and hotels, advising leading domestic and multinational owners, investors and occupiers.

My key responsibilities include driving long-term, sustainable and profitable growth for the company along with developing the company’s short-term and long-term strategy. I also focus on continuously enhancing the firm’s service offerings to clients and ensuring maximum market penetration.

You have said: “My focus for Colliers in India is to expand our service offerings to create multiple growth engines”. What tangible form will this take?

One of Collier’s principles and my personal focus area is to enhance client relationships, amplify our brand and build scale, in terms of market share and talent. We want to continue to be the fastest growing firm in our industry. We also plan to tap emerging opportunities and create a more CRM-based structure for our owners, occupiers, investors and clients.

The present real estate marketspace is evolving with increasing adoption of technology and a focus on innovation and flexibility. We plan to offer more digital solutions to our clients. We continue to invest in technology and talent and create multiple growth engines by focusing on decentralized operations.

Colliers’ biggest commitment to growth in India was the buyout of the country’s largest project management company, Synergy, in 2019.

What kind of engagement do you foresee with AI and Big Data playing a bigger role in operations and decision making?

I am heavily focused on technology and proptech in particular. I believe AI, big data and analytics will play a critical role in how we operate in the future. Technologies and applications to ensure better collaboration, convenience and enhanced workplace experience are starting to become mainstream.

A majority of real estate listings are done online or through cross platform applications, increasing outreach and efficiency. Automation in this segment can be achieved via advanced machine learning techniques. A lot of physically stored information is getting digitised, allowing convenient and large-scale accessibility.

AI and machine learning will also boost the quality of information processing. Smarter algorithms make it easier to grasp and analyse real-time data. Advanced AI techniques, deep learning and the blockchain will enable better storage and comprehension of real estate documents and data.

Drones and VR imaging technologies have digitized property marketing and showings. These techniques have become more relevant in Covid times and replaced physical site visits in many instances. One can create interactive, simulated and 360-degree experiences using these technologies.

The internet of things has made workplace management and effective space utilisation easier. Technology is also getting adopted to track energy consumption, control expenses, etc.

If you were to design an ideal office space for the post-pandemic era, what would it look like?

As employees return to office, occupiers are shifting their focus to office spaces which promote collaboration, interaction and wellness.

The ideal office space post pandemic will have more open spaces, collaboration areas, better lighting and increased space ratios. There will

be a focus on hygiene and wellness parameters like better indoor air quality, upgraded anti-pathogen HVAC systems, contactless access, increased adoption of technology inside the workplace, greener spaces like terrace gardens, etc.

Better cleanliness, frequent sanitization, third-party health certifications, efficient elevator space, smaller and multiple cafeterias and access to healthier food options will also be a priority.

Increased space for mobility, delivery services, electric vehicles, decreased barriers, etc. have also become necessary now.

Client feedback is central to your management ethos. Where do you see the commonality among clients? Kindly elaborate.

With a rise in vaccination in India and Asia, clients are increasingly optimistic about investment opportunities, expansions and re-entry to offices. Businesses are likely to remain resilient to the threat of a third wave, on account of increasing vaccination numbers and better strategies around the hybrid working model.

Companies are encouraging their employees to work from offices in cities where public transportation is operative and government policies around mobility are clear.

There is increased demand for safer spaces with a focus on hygiene, safety and protected environments. Aspects like indoor and terrace gardens, biophilia, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) monitoring, HVAC upgrades, smart spaces, better amenities, etc. are becoming more and more important in office and residential spaces.

Residential buyers are demanding spaces with larger rooms, dedicated work and study areas, modern and smart amenities, sanitisation, health and safety, etc.

Investors are upbeat about Indian real estate, given the increasing leasing activity across asset classes and especially in warehousing, data centres and office space. We have witnessed strong interest from PE and sovereign funds in these asset classes in India.

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