On June 6, about 15 young leader members of ULI Switzerland and further young professionals met on the top floor of the Prime Tower in Zurich to share a breakfast with Jan Eckert, the CEO of JLL Switzerland Ltd. The 90 min discussion between our host, a senior leader of the real estate sector, and attendees starting their career in various fields of the industry has been intense and extremely insightful. Given the great success of this new event format, the young leader section of ULI Switzerland will seek to organize such a breakfast meeting on quarterly basis going forward.
To launch the event, Jan Eckert described the start of his career as an accountant and an auditor within the Swiss branch of a global accounting firm in the early 1990ies. He entered into the real estate industry later on, while building up a new real estate consulting team for his employer. About the first years of his career, Jan stressed the challenging economic environment in Switzerland at this time and gave an important advice to the audience: “Whenever you are facing difficult times in the market, do not look at the bad news and stay focus on your business activities, and prospect for new mandates. This is usually a great time for opportunities.” Jan added also a second very relevant advice for young professionals: “As long as you are able to give feedbacks to your hierarchy on business aspects you believe the firm could improve, and that actions are taken, then you are at the right place. If not, then you should start thinking about a new station.”
Moving to the activities of JLL Switzerland, Jan mentioned the advantages of running a Swiss business with a global brand; in particular, the reputation of JLL providing access to large mandates in the local market, as well as the referral of international clients. At the same time, large group structures offer a wide range of services on a global scale. As a local branch, it is crucial to focus on the services that really fulfill the needs of your home market and renounce to the offering which does not. On the digitalization of the real estate industry, Jan emphasized on the importance of monitoring new products and services emerging in the market and considering adequate acquisitions. In this respect, he does not see Proptech firms as a threat for real estate services companies such as JLL, but more as a complement to the existing activities of those established players.
The event closed on a final question: “Jan, what are you really proud of?” The CEO of JLL Switzerland, without needing any reflection time: “Professionally speaking, definitely my team”.