Lauralee E. Martin, formerly chief operating and financial officer for Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), was promoted to CEO, Americas, effective January 1, 2013. Martin joined the firm in 2002 as chief financial officer. Under her leadership, the company built the industry-leading energy and sustainability services business, helped structure acquisitions across the company’s global platform, and contributed to productivity growth and client service through the development of a globally unified technology platform. Recently, Martin spoke with Development magazine about her new position as CEO, plans for the company and her views on the industry going forward in today’s challenging environment.
Development: As CEO, what are your core areas of focus?
Martin: It is always about people, talent and the leadership team that are in the organization, because to bring the best to the marketplace, we need the best talent working extraordinarily well focused on the right priorities. Of course, it is also about our clients: What are the needs of our clients and what do they need to know? JLL must anticipate client needs because we have a much broader view of overall markets and can bring a lot of intelligence about what is on the horizon.
Development: What qualities do you look for when hiring senior staff?
Martin: It is a given that senior staff needs to have technical excellence. For JLL, there are two things: Do they look for and see opportunity and growth, and, in the current environment, are they comfortable with change and challenging the status quo? There is still a lot of change going on in business and real estate obviously comes into that. Globalization is certainly going to continue and that brings opportunity and new competition.
Development: Over the next 18 months, what challenges/opportunities do you see for your industry and business?
Martin: The major challenge is the continued slow-growth global environment, which means slow growth for our clients. We need to help our clients with productivity and cost savings, helping them move very quickly and easily when they spot opportunity. For example, we have seen industrial real estate change in response to the digitization of retail, as well as to changes in the supply chain that have come out of the cost of energy and risk diversification.
Development: Looking out three to five years, what do you see on the horizon that will impact your industry and business? What are you doing today to prepare?
Martin: Aside from global trends and demographics, there are a few areas of opportunity — the healthcare industry and all aspects of the public sector, such as cities, states and governments. Both industries are real estate intensive. They need the ability to make their real estate more productive and delivered at significantly less cost. JLL sees tremendous opportunity in new sectors, and that is where we bring the best of what we do to meet client needs and create opportunity.
Development: How has the commercial real estate industry changed over your career?
Martin: The industry has become much more sophisticated and transparent. Real estate is a component of a client’s business that can make them more productive and facilitate more efficient business activities. There is a great deal of sophistication regarding how to use real estate, the opportunity it provides, and the knowledge of it as an investment asset class.
Development: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned over the course of your real estate career
Martin: Real estate is a physical asset and I was taught it is all about location, location, location. Because it is physical, you better make the right decision. I have learned that real estate is more adaptable and flexible than people think. As a result, it isalways an industry with opportunity.
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