On the night of October 25th as I sat in Lufthansa’s maiden flight out of Nairobi, I was both excited and apprehensive. Excited that Lufthansa had returned to Nairobi after an 18 year absence. At an event at the airport to receive the plane that would make this maiden flight, Lufthansa officials said of their decision- Kenya is now a more stable market than when they left Kenya. They acknowledged Nairobi as East Africa’s economic powerhouse and a gateway to leisure destinations in the region. They also noted that with Germany as Kenya’s 3rd largest export market in Europe (after UK & the Netherlands), they would have flights four days a week. This confidence on Nairobi as articulated by as Executive Board member of Lufthansa, echoed by other firms such as Allianz who also recently announced entry to Nairobi and the opportunities these present for JLL Kenya was the reason for my excitement.
I was also apprehensive, and the reasons for this, earlier this year on our road trip to market the SSA capabilities to both clients and internal JLL colleagues, I had the opportunity to visit Poland and the centre of Excellence. I was shocked by the cold and wind in Warsaw but given the work the team was doing, I predicted that I needed to quickly work on coping mechanisms as I would most likely visit Poland again. My predictions were correct and here I was heading out on an opportunity to spend three days interacting with colleagues from across EMEA hosted both by the CS leadership and the Centre of Excellence team.
The EMEA CS Leadership conference 2015 was very aptly titled Thinking Beyond.
From the content and discussions in the workshops and leadership presentations I gained a deeper understanding of resources available to us, to support various service offerings to our clients in different markets and more specifically in my East Africa perch. The opportunities offered by RED are enormous and should be a “good sell” especially in Nairobi where technology has aided many companies leap-frog the curve in their aspirations and be best in class.
In workshops led jointly by various Business / Solutions development and CR teams and based on actual client scenarios, we walked through the journey from targeting a client to earning their trust and be “their only trusted real estate advisor/ partner”, increasingly gaining more and more of their wallet share. My realisation was that it is often not our Real estate skills that are called for; it is the “creativity, passion, the tenacity and some cheek” that will get us there. Of course one must be adequately prepared and understand the clients business very well.
I have returned home encouraged and with the excitement I felt at the opportunities from Global Corporates’ interest in Nairobi renewed. I was re-energised, not just from connecting with my colleagues from the EMEA network, but also from learning that what has previously been a pain point for me i.e. the slow and occasionally frustrating journey to get in front of the appropriate decision makers in various target corporates is indeed the journey of many successful JLL teams. Getting insights on how different teams have gone about it was great.
Last but not least, a presentation on “Re-thinking the world of work” by Dr Marie Puybaraud was thought provoking. The Robot guest relations in Hotels, office pantry services operated by Robots! The workplace that is not fixed or defined around a place or timetable; but rather on “choice, fluidity, identity, care “of the individual .I can relate to that but is Corporate Nairobi market ready for it? The uptake of mobile money /Mpesa (19.95 mn registered users since inception in March 2007) and 42% of Kenya’s GDP transacted through Mpesa suggests that ‘this new workplace’ is an idea that HR, CRE & FM should anticipate and prepare for.
I look forward to future visits to Poland.