Anshul JainCountry Head & Managing Director- India of Cushman and Wakefield
Anshul Jain heads Cushman and Wakefield in India. He holds over 24 years of experience across South East Asia (India, Singapore, Indonesia) and Europe (UK, Central and Eastern Europe). He conceptualizes real estate solutions through experience spanning across work on funding and equity placement requirements, consulting large corporates on transactions, fit outs, and Integrated Facility Management solutions and exposure in the Singapore REIT market, PE funds in real estate and debt financing transactions.
Anshul holds an International MBA from IMD, Switzerland, and a Master’s in Finance (MFC) from Delhi University. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS). Well-known as a thought leader in the sector, he writes for leading publications and is frequently invited as key note speaker in various industry forums.
1. What was the mandate given to you by the Board when you took over in your role?
As I came on board some 9 months after the merger between DTZ and Cushman & Wakefield, the mandate ensured seamless integration of the two entities in India, along with driving profitable growth for the business.
2. How much of that has been achieved? What were the challenges faced?
Like in any post-merger scenario, the key concern the clients had were on leadership along with continuity of quality service. So, once the clients saw that there was a solid leadership in place and with the merger there was enhanced service delivery, things fell in place quickly and smoothly. When I looked back at the past 3 years, all I can say is that it has been a fantastic run. We have proudly managed a create an inclusive, high performing work culture which feeds off the knowledge of a 100-year-old organization and has the agility & energy of a startup.
3. What are the key challenges your organization is facing currently? And what are the steps you are taking?
At a macro economic level, there have been talks of an economic slowdown for few months now. With the advent of the novel coronavirus, these fears have multiplied. India so far has been largely insulated, and one hopes that will continue. And the other big challenge is to attract and retain talent while maintaining operating cost to run a healthy profitable business. As for measures, in our business it is the annuity revenue streams that safeguards us against economic ups and downs. And we have for a while been focusing on building these streams and are in a very strong place, as we speak. On the talent side we keep a close eye on our fixed costs and leverage the platform to grow margins.
4. How have the changes in technology/globalization/economy affected your sector? *
Globalization on one hand has given us access to the C&W Global platform and on the other, an opportunity to service global businesses in the India market. The growth in sectors like IT, BFSI, Retail amongst others have also ensured that the sector has been growing faster than the economy. The technology so far hasn’t disrupted this industry unlike some others. At the same time the industry is embracing technology to deliver smart solutions to end consumers under the Facility Management vertical, and to clients for faster solution delivery.
5. What is your talent strategy? How do you draw the balance between home grown vs lateral hiring at the leadership level?
Getting the right talent is a challenge, particularly in this industry and in emerging markets such as India. Hence, we have consciously chosen to build our culture as our differentiator. We also recruit a sizable portion of our people from outside the conventional industry norms as that helps us breed innovative thinking and cross pollinate the best practices from other industries. In addition, our focus on Diversity and Inclusion keeps us ahead of the curve.
Given that sixty percent or more of the leadership currently is home grown is the testimony to our commitment of cultivating and nurturing in-house talent. The balance comes from other organizations and this mix is our secret sauce for building an organization that is ‘Built to Last’. At Cushman & Wakefield we lay special emphasis on succession planning and having a robust talent and leadership pipeline enabling best of both sides.
Today, the firm employs the most talented workforce who have been the reason for its continuous growth.
6. How does your organization identify and develop future leaders?
Developing future leaders is a constant for us and is one of the magnets that keeps our key talent from looking elsewhere. We identify the skills, ambition and capability basis which we start providing stepping stones in form of opportunities. These opportunities coupled with the business acumen, exposure to different businesses and teams, challenging situational placements and constant feedback helps us to not only develop our future leaders but also to feed our people’s aspirations. Of course, the same goes with the right rewards, in the form of offering an enhanced role or responsibility or financial incentives. All this and more helps us keep them motivated and aligned to organizational and individual goals.
7. In a world full of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity & Ambiguity (VUCA), innovation has become one of the most important factors to transform a crisis into an opportunity. How do you promote Innovation?
We have taken a double prolonged approach to innovation. Internally we conduct leadership groups for our business processes from time to time. The ideas generated are then tracked and executed through cross functional teams. The other approach is to use PARTNERSHIPS to drive innovation. Specially, in the field of technology, our partnerships link us to the best tech ideas out there and position us to be tech integrators and advisors to our clients. They give us nimbleness and exposure to the best ideas out there. Some of the key strategic partners for Cushman & Wakefield that are at the forefront on innovation in RE space are Fifth Wall, Plug and Play, Stanford University among others.
8. How do you define and practice leadership?
I believe as a leader it is my responsibility to define the growth path for my organization and my people. And then have the infectious confidence to turn it into a shared vision, that we all work collectively and inclusively towards it with the same zeal and passion. I also believe the onus of creating a work culture that helps each employee deliver their best starts with me. And I do believe we have been successful in creating a work culture for Cushman & Wakefield where our employees feel excited about coming to work, where they get opportunities to apply, learn, grow and give their best every day.
9. How can Indian leaders become Global Leaders?
India is one of the most challenging markets to lead, at all levels. And I believe that if one has had a successful leadership in this tough environment, one can take on any global role. Though of course, global leadership roles are as much about capability as about the opportunity.
10. What are the 3 most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are today?
The first one would be moving out of India, as that gave me exposure to some of the most developed RE markets in the world.
The next one would be the opportunity to head DTZ in India, clearly one of the most challenging and rapidly growing markets.
Last but not the least would be the merger of DTZ with Cushman & Wakefield that created the opportunity for me to lead it in C&W in India as a successful unified business entity.
11. What message would you like to share with young professionals at the start of their career?
I believe there are no substitutes for hard work, diligence and honesty towards one’s work. Along with that having vertical specialization, being open to experimentation and learning from them to better your game, goes a long way.