What does your job as COO at CTP entail?
As COO, I’m responsible for the company’s operations across all markets. The functions I look after are very focused on construction, which includes design, procurement, permitting, and both project and property management. A lot of responsibilities fit in with that. First, HR: we must have the best people in the company, very well-trained and motivated – which I think they are. And regarding IT, we need to be using IT systems that enable maximum efficiency. It’s a big company, so anybody who does anything here has a big job, and I’m really excited about it.
What are some of your goals at CTP?
Well, my short-term goals at CTP are to make sure that the company keeps on going as it has done previously, which is very quickly, efficiently, and customer-focused. I don’t want to disrupt that. I’m not here to fix anything; this is a company that is doing really well, so it’s mainly about keeping it going. Long-term, Remon has a very clear vision about wanting CTP to be a model company in the area it operates in. He wants us to be the property development company of the future, and I’m here to make sure it’s all very well-defined and well-mapped, and we get there with as little pain as possible.
What do you see as the main challenges facing CTP?
At the core of everything we do is having the best people, and providing them with the best tools — the best IT systems — that they could possibly work with. There’s a very big challenge coming to all industries that is going to affect property and CTP as well: digital transformation. Digitalization offers us both risk and opportunity. The risk will come with a change in how things get done, how customers behave, and how services are provided, all of which will affect our products: the location, the size, the purpose of them. To make sure that we remain relevant, we have to understand what’s going to be the building of the future.
Internally, CTP will change as well. Our competitors will bring in new tools; if we don’t do the same, we’ll be left behind, and I don’t think that’s apart of CTP’s culture. We’re pioneers, we’re aggressive, we’re fast-moving. So it’s really important that we work very hard to transform this into a digital property company.
What is digitalization as it relates to industrial real estate, and CTP?
At the moment, we are bringing in new platforms that help us manage our property a lot more efficiently: heating, lighting, repairs to the building,and availability of information which will let you know how your building behaves. A building is a living thing. It moves, it warms up, it cools down, it has issues, its purpose needs to be redirected… When tenants come into the building, we need to gather information about how they use it. Digital tools allow us to measure activity and produce a much more efficient building.
What brought you to CTP?
I knew about CTP for quite a while, it’s obviously a great brand and a great company in the region. I met Remon through a mutual acquaintance, and we just clicked; there was a need in the company for the kind of skills I had, we agreed very quickly, and here I am.
What do you see outside of the real estate world that might affect CTP,both positively and negatively?
The move to e-commerce will increase demand for well-located, modern fulfilment centres, and that’s something which CTP can definitely take advantage of. We’re able to produce facilities for people who have very bespoke processes or very specific requirements. And as technology and robotics become very important in the production process, we can deliver what you need to be able to create value as a manufacturer or as a logistic company.
What is your approach to decision-making?
In decision-making, I work with information and data. At a company the size of CTP, it’s essential that you’re not doing something only on instinct. I consult with people, I listen quite a lot and I’m very open to new ideas. But I do have 27 years of experience behind me, so I bring a certain track record as well.
How do you prioritize your time and responsibility?
The position of COO is a new position at CTP, so with that comes a certain amount of mapping, or deciding how you’re going to prioritize and where you can have the most impact. I have to be very careful that I don’t get dragged into troubleshooting all the time. I sit down to plan my week, my quarter, my 6 months. Something I learned during my time at Tesco, where I led 15,000 people, was that although I could not speak to every single one of them individually, I still had to make sure that my plan was clear to everyone. You need to be very focused in this job. You need to be the person who holds the course, even when things go slightly wild around you.
How do you acquire feedback, and in what ways do you believe it to be beneficial?
Communication is irreplaceable; we are spread out across many countries, so it’s important for me that I’m getting feedback on how my plans are affecting them. My working week is starting off here in Prague on Mondays, but then I spend quite a few days in other countries. Face-to-face meetings are best because you can check the outputs of what you’re doing. It’s also really important that you’re not just speaking to people who are leading the countries, but also to those who are actually doing the job. I speak Czech, Slovak and a little bit of Polish, so I can get the real story from people in this company. They aren’t afraid to say their opinion, so you’ll always get the right feedback or the right information on how things are going.
Speaking specifically of IT, explain its significance and how it can push the company forward.
The company has been using platforms that suited CTP’s focus on the Czech market. Now, as an international company, standardized ways of working are crucial. The new IT platforms will give us a financial picture of how we’re operating on our cash flow, they’ll give us a picture of our assets andhow those assets are structured. We’ll be able to make better predictions about how our assets behave, or how they could possibly perform. Information will lay bare the real performance of where the company is, which may scare some people. Nonetheless, what can’t happen is that we refuse to work with that information. That would be a lost opportunity. My role is to engage people in this company to understand that this is areally good chance for us to move CTP to a very, very advantageous place. Google works on information to understand peoples’ intent, what people are trying to do. Facebook is a form of insight. We have to understand the behaviour and performance of our property portfolio and our tenants, so we can identify opportunity for ourselves.