The Leader Magazine

SEP 2017

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62 SEPTEMBER 2017 T h E l E ad ER How long have you been with your com- pany? And how long have you been in corporate real estate (CRE)? I have been with Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong for just over one year now as the head of property management for Asia. My role has re- sponsibility for the property projects, engineering design, and IFM functional teams across Morgan Stanley's Asia portfolio of 2.1 million square feet (195,000 sq. m.). Prior to that, I was working at RBS as the Head of CREM for Asia, based in Mumbai, India. I joined RBS in London in 2007, and moved to the CREM function in 2009. Before RBS, I worked for eight years at Accenture as a manage- ment consultant. Whilst my transition from management consultancy into corporate real estate was more by chance and circumstance, I feel there are considerable similarities between the two. Both have a strong customer focus, strategic analysis, stakeholder engagement, programme and risk management, and a drive to add value whilst optimising cost. So I think the consulting skill set and behaviours work very well in the corporate real estate environment, and whilst not overtly planned, I am very happy to have found my way into the CRE industry. When you started your CRE career, how did you learn what you needed to know? Did you have a mentor, either formal or informal, who helped guide your skill growth and provide support and advice? Tell us about how that relationship came to be and how it helped you. Steve Williamson, MCR Executive Director, Head of Property Management Asia Morgan Stanley I have been very fortunate throughout my CRE career to be surrounded by a lot of talented and experienced individuals, and I've always found people in the CRE profession to be very open and willing to share knowledge and experi- ence. Whilst at RBS I benefitted from their well- developed CREM function and model, which was part of the overall Corporate Services team. There were a number of strong leaders there, and well-defined work methods which helped me develop my functional capability. Having moved from RBS in early 2016, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work at Morgan Stanley. It's an excellent organization with a strong culture, and a great CREM team, with strong leadership and very good technical capability. I've been able to learn a lot from the people around me. What was the best advice you received related to your career, and who did it come from? Looking back, why do you believe it was the best advice? In my first year or two in the CRE team at RBS, whilst working in London, my manager at the time told me to remember I 'have the right to roam.' He was advising me not to just focus on my role and my deliverables, but to look at and understand the wider business, the wider con- text, and to see where there were opportunities for me to add value or contribute. It is something I have tried to do since then, and find that it is often this piece of advice that has resulted in me being involved in activities or initiatives that I have enjoyed and have benefitted my career, that I might not have been exposed to otherwise. This is also a good way to learn and adapt, and show a willingness to contribute and add value. What was your personal reason/motiva- tion for seeking the MCR designation? When did you earn it, and how long did you take to complete the program? I had attended a number of CoreNet Global local chapter events and the Summit in Hong Kong, and found them very beneficial from a learning and networking perspective, and not coming from a technical CRE background, I thought it would be good to do a CRE accredita- tion. I found it to be a good mix of personal development, enhancing your network and get- ting wider industry insights and perspectives both from end users and service providers. I started in September 2014, and completed in February 2016. So just under a year and a half. MCR PROFILE Thinking back to the total MCR learn- ing experience, what aspects of the MCR program were your favorites? One of the features of the MCR programme is flexibility, in terms of the seminar options, but also the numerous locations where they are held. I took two courses in Mumbai, two in Bangalore, one in Hong Kong, and the capstone in London. In addition to the learning, this gives you a good opportunity to meet and get to know different colleagues from the CRE profession. I enjoyed all of the seminars, but I remem- ber Neil Salton (who presented the workplace seminar) was an excellent presenter, and his session was one of my favourites. The capstone in London was also very interesting. Roughly half of the group there were German students who were completing the capstone as part of their degree at Regensburg University. How has achieving the MCR designa- tion helped you professionally, and what would you say to other CRE profession- als who don't yet have their MCR? It's quite easy in our industry to become internally focused. One of the benefits of the MCR is the wider perspectives you get and the opportunity over a period of time to take yourself out of that environment and spend time with colleagues and peers to broaden your frame of reference. Through the network and the friend- ships you make doing that you have the ability to keep those interactions going even once you have completed the course. It links you in to a strong network and community, and one that I have found is willing to embrace and collaborate with their industry colleagues and peers and support and share information. Tell us about your family. I have been married to my wife, Caron, for 10 years, and we have two daughters aged 7 and 9. We are quite a tight-knit bunch. We enjoy travelling and experiencing different cultures and visiting new places. We loved living in India and experiencing the rich culture there but were all excited to have the opportunity to come to Hong Kong. We've been here a year now but are still exploring and finding fun new things to do, especially all of the outdoor activities like hiking and water sports. For more information about the Master of Corporate Real Estate (MCR) program, visit or contact Amy Dreher at

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