Chief Executive Officer, EMEA
Jones Lang LaSalle
Arriving at the World Economic Forum for the first time, I was immediately impressed by the Swiss-made perfect organisation as well as the high level of security. But before talking about Davos, some remarks on my Tuesday morning.
I started my travel with a stop at a real estate conference in Frankfurt. The opening speech was given by Dr. Walter, the former Chief Economist of Deutsche Bank. He painted a very gloomy picture of the European and US economies, especially for 2012. I was supposed to follow him and talk about the implications for European real estate markets.
Well, I was already optimistic about the perspectives of the real estate industry in 2011 and got another boost at the GRI retreat a week before. So I was forced to set a very different tone in my speech, which was obviously well-received by the attendees.
Moving on to Davos, while real estate is not a main topic at the WEF conference, it definitely is a big part of many of the questions which are discussed there.
The subtitle of this year’s meeting is “Committed to improving the state of the world.” As you know, real estate is key to the aim of reducing carbon emissions, and we at Jones Lang LaSalle have the skill sets to help. It will be necessary to combine modern building technology and learn a more about developing and using renewable energy to create a really different carbon footprint in the industrialised world.
Another hot topic of the conference – the question of increasing inflation – is also key to our sector. Growing inflation, and at the same time low interest rates, are offering a very interesting combination for our industry, and for the investment needs of the major sovereign funds and big insurance companies.
Bringing my notes from Davos down to a more personal level, I attended a workshop called “Leading in a Hyper-connected World.” I was part of a group led by the incoming dean of INSEAD. He highlighted some of the challenges of staying connected in a world which needs to deal with different nationalities, different languages and different cultural backgrounds. How do you bridge such differences? How do you make use of all the new technologies without losing the personal touch? (At times it sounded like a day at Jones Lang LaSalle.)
Listening to all these smart people, I felt confident about how we are moving forward. It will be a mix of virtual meetings and blogs like this one, but also personal meetings. At the end, I was glad to hear from Professor Dipak Jain that a handwritten letter to a client or colleague will create impact for some years, while an email – or this blog – will be forgotten within days or even hours.
So don’t ignore the beautiful pen you received for your last birthday. You will need it.