The Leader Magazine

SEP 2016

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38 SEPTEMBER 2016 F E A T U R E A R T I C L E café/bar, complete with lawns and casual seating, golf driving and putting areas, petanque court and plenty of space to relax in the open air. We have engaged our first outsourced facilities-management contract in Asia Pacific, which is bringing best-of-class services at deeper value to our businesses' daily operations at the site. With luck, by the time this article is printed, we will also have our first WELL-accredited workplace, which our GTB team have been pursuing in an endeavour to take the workplace to a new level of focus not only on sustainability but also on a healthy workplace for staff. It may sound simple, but this will also be our first campus with an integrated Office 365 meeting room function that supports the entire campus and enables sharing of meeting facilities across the group. This was also a global first for naming and installing group sky signage. The property is formally registered in Shanghai as the WPP Campus and carries huge 5-metre (16.4-ft.)-high, 15-metre (49-ft.)-long LED sky signage on three sides. The staff really feel proud to be a part of something really huge – literally. This is a rare outcome for a leased property. t he leader : s uch a massive project must have required r eal e state to collaborate not only with senior business leaders but with other key infrastructure functions. t ell us more about how r eal e state partnered with it , H r , security, and similar functions to help ensure the success of the s hanghai campus. Woodburn: This project brought together not only multiple companies, but multiple disciplines within the individual companies, as well as across the Group. The main players at the table were HR and IT. We employed a project manager dedicated fully to the IT coordination, solely for this project. HR was engaged within each operating company and worked closely with the Communications team established to execute the messaging. The great culture that emerged from the Group was that when the times get tough, as they did for such a large complex project, the resources and positive support were always ready and willing to problem-solve. Walking around the floors day one was the highlight for me, seeing beaming faces as staff and management settled into exciting fresh new workplaces. "The space is great – beyond our wildest expectations" was a memorable quote from one of the staff in those early days. We shared little of the finished product images with anyone – partly strategically and partly because there would not have been time to organize pictures between completion and moving in! t he leader : With approximately 26 different companies involved, making decisions about "who sits where" must have been interesting! t ell us about this . Woodburn: Aahh… This was resolved with a mix of luck, judgment and tactical negotiations. Everyone wanted to occupy the high floors, as you would imagine, while others wanted to ensure they were in different lift risers from potentially competitive companies. It was a forever-moving feast at the outset and we had not fully resolved exactly how much space and how many floors we needed. We first worked with the major tenants, whose size partly dictated placement. It made sense to dedicate the entire mid-rise to our media agencies. They then delivered a vertical village connected by a seven-story staircase. This then left Ogilvy, our largest full-service agency business, looking at the low-rise, so I traded this with some exclusive access to the balcony. The balance of spaces was filled depending on where tenants came from previously – i.e., high-floor tenants moved to the high floors here, and then the smaller pieces were easy to fit into the respective gaps. This "patch work" puzzle continued for many months, even into the spatial planning stages as we expanded space needs with new business acquisitions who also wanted to join the party. The rental was uniform across the property, so we always had the option to price floors according to varying heights if we could not gain peaceful resolution; this was never required. Surprisingly, most companies were generally pleased with their allocated positions. t he leader : i f you could go back and do one thing differently, what would it be? a nd, are there any lessons learned, even at this early stage, that you will incorporate into future WPP sites? Woodburn: The lessons learned run almost as long as this entire article. We had sessions with multiple stakeholders and my team to capture while fresh, all our learnings, not that we wish for such a complex and intensely time-pressured project any time soon! Here's the big take-away. For selfish reasons, if we went again, I would demand that the holdover was extended for three months and use that time to make less-pressured decisions. Blood pressure would have been lowered across the board. The property owner also would have had more time to fully commission building services more seamlessly. Seeking balance, I was personally keen to make everyone happy but also had to make hard decisions. Being a little less inclusive and just trusting judgment would have resulted in some better whole-of-campus decisions, but then our "federation style structure" dictates this complex stakeholder management process. The end result was "on time and on budget." We made it and survived to tell the story. A reassembled fire truck adorns one of the common areas used for town halls and break-out sessions "The temptation, like in all major leasing deals, to 'claw back' the terms and flexibility was a daily challenge. This required a sound legal team with solid property skills and daily attendance at legal meetings to keep up the momentum." James Woodburn is a head of Real Estate for WPP in Asia Pacific and is based in Sydney with a team in Hong Kong. The Group oversees a footprint of some 511,000 square meters (5.5 million sq. ft.) of leasehold property across 21 countries and 83 cities, housed in more than 400 individual properties.

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