CEO, Asia-Pacific, Vestian
Years of experience: 25 years
“I will never give myself the luxury of thinking 'I’ve made it'. I’m not the same as I was 20 years ago, but I always set the bar higher.” - Zaha Hadid. This quote could summarise Shrinivas Rao, a pioneers in the Indian commercial real estate industry. Within a short span of nine years, Vestian is recognised as a global brand in the field of real estate services and workplace solutions. He had the foresight to identify the need for integrated workplace solutions, but more importantly, for delivering quality services. Vestian is now considered amongst the top four international workplace solutions firm in the Asia Pacific region with a focus on India and China. Besides being an eminent thought leader in the Indian realty sector, he is also known for his contributions to society. Over the years, this includes a partnership with Help Age India and Child Rights & You (CRY). He supports Light A Life—Reena Raju Foundation, a registered charitable trust that spreads awareness on organ donation.
Charting The Path
Rao, over the span of 25 years, has worked his way through the corporate minefield tenaciously. He is, however, realistic enough to realise that one needs to learn from failures and shortcomings. An engineer and management graduate, he has worked across the real estate sphere, and has seen the Indian realty space when it was riddled with lack of regulation and professionalism. Having worked in other markets, he saw the Indian real estate market for what it was, and recognised the opportunity to contribute significantly to the segment.
Challenges and Risks
The industry was unstructured and fragmented. Rao played an active role when organised real estate firms forayed into India, to capitalise on the immense potential. He became a key contributor in establishing professional commercial real estate services in India. He was involved in launching and establishing businesses of Colliers International and Cushman & Wakefield, India. In fact, at the age of 26, he was one of the youngest directors of Colliers.
In 2000, he joined Equis as the country manager, India, with a primary focus of establishing a conflict-free occupier solutions business. Later, he took over as the COO – APAC, to manage over 6,500 employees across the Asia Pacific region. He realised that there was shift in focus from occupier solutions to a more landlord service delivery model. It was at this juncture that the idea of Vestian, an exclusively customer centric workplace solutions firm, came into being.
Today, having completed assignments across 90 locations in five countries including the US, UAE, India, Sri Lanka and China, the company’s biggest strategic thrust is international growth and expansion. He believes that it is imperative to have strong team dynamics and team cohesion for the success of any firm.
Rao’s father, was perhaps one of his earliest and strongest inspirations in life. A chartered accountant by qualification, he was an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry. Rao also drew inspiration from late Zaha Hadid. Her innovative approach is reflected in all her designs, a lesson and value, that till date, he applies in his day to day functioning and in every project. To the youth of today who wish to join the real estate business, he advises, "Being passionate and committed is the key to success in this industry. Success does not come overnight, so it's imperative to be patient and persistent." He believes in learning from the past, while being optimistic about the future.
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