2014 has been a year of “transformation” for CapitaLand.
Many have asked me, “Why the need to transform?”
When I officially took over the reins in CapitaLand at the start of 2013, the world had already entered into a period of momentous change, brought on by the digital revolution as well as the rise of China. No individual or organisation would be spared from this transition. And I knew CapitaLand must also make a transition, which will be primarily defined by change. The ‘1000-year’ collective wisdom I gathered from many of you in December 2012 made me realise that there was a dire need to transform CapitaLand.
We began simplifying our organisational structure from eight to four SBUs. This continued into 2014 with the divestment of our stake in Australand, the privatisation of CMA and then the full integration of CMA back into the Group. These gave us the opportunity to harness synergies across our various competencies and strengthen our collective capabilities. As ONE CapitaLand, we are much better positioned to seize the opportunities for sustainable growth. Admittedly, it has not been an easy process to disrupt status quos and dismantle conventions, and for some it was difficult to adjust to the new realities.
What gave me the courage and conviction to push through with the change is our shared vision to be a leading global enterprise that enriches people and communities through high-quality real estate products and services. This is where we want CapitaLand to go and what we want it to become. After months of intensive work involving feedback from some 9,500 of you, we launched our revalidated CapitaDNA in August 2014, which is a reflection of our aspirations and the values we want to live by as we move forward together as ONE CapitaLand.
As we move into 2015, we need to continue the next phase of our transformation journey to make CapitaLand more nimble, as well as more innovative and creative. This can only be achieved by winning the hearts and minds of every one of our colleagues. This is more important than organisational changes or hardware changes, for nothing great can be achieved without enthusiasm and passion from every one of you.
A few years ago, when I first took over the responsibility for Ascott, I spent the first few weeks going through our customer feedback. Almost unanimously, most of our customers mentioned that we had great staff but very old properties. This was very good news to me then as it is much easier to fix the hardware than to change the culture and attitude. We are blessed with good quality staff with the right service attitude in Ascott. Similarly, in this next phase of transformation for CapitaLand, we are starting from a position of strength.
Position of Strength
CapitaLand has become a leading developer in Singapore, the leading foreign developer in China, Asia’s largest mall owner and operator and the world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator. We have a strong operating portfolio of five Raffles City integrated developments, 87 operational malls, 25,600 operational serviced residence units and 10 quality office buildings, as well as a strong development pipeline of 50 projects worth more than S$36 billion when completed over the next three to four years. With total assets of S$41.3b and assets under management of S$68.1b, we are in an enviable position of strength relative to many of our peers. Our scale gives us the ability to undertake projects which most of our peers cannot. But we will not stop here. We target to add, in addition to residential projects, another 12 integrated development projects in the next three years across Asia.
Not only do we have scale, our deep knowledge of the geographies we operate in has also strengthened our influence in these markets. CapitaLand is closely linked to the development of the business and urban landscapes in Singapore and beyond, including China and Vietnam, both countries in which we celebrated our 20th anniversary in 2014 ( view this video on CapitaLand’s YouTube Channel for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s message for CapitaLand as we celebrated 20 Years in China ).
CapitaLand can be where we are today because of the hard work and talents of many of you. At the same time, CapitaLand is a strong platform that offers both depth and breadth in terms of opportunities for you to grow within the Group, and to build a meaningful and challenging career ahead of you. Now that we have a common pool of talents as ONE CapitaLand, it will be easier for us to put in place improved processes to facilitate rotation and greater learning opportunities across business units. This can be in Sky Habitat, Cairnhill development or Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore, the integrated project in Central Jakarta, Indonesia or Raffles City Chongqing in China; or any of the 12 new integrated development projects.
Leading the Change - Sharpening Our Competitive Advantages
As a market leader with scale and depth across the entire real estate value chain, it will be incumbent on us to lead the change and to find innovative and creative solutions to enhance our real estate products. We have already started with various initiatives across all business units. CAPITASTAR, javenue.sg – the online portal of J.Avenue, or pneumatic garbage collection system in our Singapore residential projects, centralised dish washing at IMM or Pressreader pilots in our serviced apartments are just some examples. Will all the initiatives be successful? Unlikely. But we must have the courage to try. What is important is that we can try fast, fail cheap and learn from experience for the next version of the experiment.
In my mind, when we started in 2013, CapitaLand was like a Version 1.0 – limited interactions, flow of information and communication across strategic business units. And so we upgraded to Version 2.0 in 2014, where we sought to enhance interactions among all our colleagues.
Going into 2015, as we embark onto v2.1, v2.2, we seek to encourage more participation, collaboration and information sharing, so that we can come up with newer and better ideas to serve and offer our stakeholders. Ascott will be piloting a crowdsourcing platform in February to encourage employees to share their innovative ideas and solutions. If this is viable, we will extend this to the rest of CapitaLand. Concurrently, I intend to devote resources at the Group level to examine our strategy more thoroughly, to ensure we will not be blindsided by disruptive technologies and shifts in mega trends. And more importantly, it is to identify the next pocket of growth for CapitaLand, which will set us on our path towards Version 3.0. I see the dawn of v3.0 as a new stage of innovation in which really bold ‘game-changer’ ideas will be turned into real-world projects.
It is clear to me though that technology is ever evolving, and even v3.0 will be just a milestone for CapitaLand and not the end of the road. In due course, it is almost certain that newer technologies will make their way into our world. And as a company that believes in building a sustainable business, it is expected of CapitaLand to carry on this culture of transformation so that we may continue to meet the aspirations and requirements of the people and the communities we build for.
Given current times of increasing competition, complexity, and change, when people and organisations are expected to continuously accomplish more with less, CapitaLand has to maintain a culture of transformation to stay relevant for the long haul. Sustainable superior results can only be achieved by continually developing and improving our organisational systems and processes; by leveraging technology and innovative design to engage customers, enhance offerings and improve efficiency
Building People. Building Communities.
Amidst all these changes, it is this commitment to “Building People, Building Communities” that will remain constant and provide the purpose for our present and future actions. I’m pleased to see that staff volunteerism has gained significant momentum in CapitaLand. CapitaLand Volunteer Day was first launched in Singapore on 15 November 2013. It was then extended to China, where more than 1,900 CapitaLand staff took part in a large-scale charity experiential walk across five Chinese cities on 28 June 2014. Volunteering is about doing more than you have to because you want to. I’m happy to see that the joy derived from going the extra mile to contribute positively towards the community has also helped to create a shared bond among our colleagues within CapitaLand.
Going forward, I am determined to maintain the market leadership position of CapitaLand. To achieve our vision of a leading global enterprise that enriches people and communities through high-quality real estate products and services,we have to remain steadfast in our mission which focuses on Customers, People, Investors and Communities. We have to be anchored by our core values of Respect, Integrity, Creativity and Excellence, which have been succinctly expressed in our credo of “Building People. Building Communities.”
As we face the uncertain world of change and the exciting challenge of the digital age, we have embarked on ambitious initiatives to simplify our organisation structure so as to move ahead as ONE CapitaLand, united in our vision, leaving no room for ambiguity. With an energised management team, CapitaLand is set to re-engage the market at an unprecedented level. We look forward to your support, commitment and passion to see through the next phase of transformation to make CapitaLand a more nimble, as well as a more innovative and creative organisation.
Winston Churchill once made a very important observation of the built environment, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us”. Shaping the built environment and hence shaping the communities is a heavy responsibility that we bear as “CapitaLanders” and one that gives us our purpose.
On this note, let me wish you a Happy New Year and a great 2015 ahead!