The Innovation Conversation is a series of Q&A sessions between the real estate technology industry's top leaders and MetaProp Co-Founder and Managing Director Aaron Block. Topics include thoughts on the future of property and technology, corporate innovation activities and executive development in the real estate technology space.
WHAT ARE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY RESPONSIBILITIES IN YOUR ORGANIZATION?
I’m a Director in the Investment Advisory team, Capital Advisors in CBRE, the investment banking part of the CBRE business. My expertise lies is real estate portfolio strategy and execution globally, from acquisitions to portfolio restructuring across commercial and residential property types. I’m also a Proptech lead in CBRE working on bringing technology into real estate to optimise investment decisions and portfolio/asset performance.
My role involves helping my team grow our international investment advisory business and developing products and services to help investor clients achieve their risk-adjusted returns.
DESCRIBE HOW YOU BECAME INTERESTED IN PROPTECH AND INNOVATION.
I became interested in Proptech whilst doing the Executive MBA programme in Columbia and London Business School. I was enrolled in the Entrepreneurship Summer School in LBS with a startup idea focused on using AI and big data to help real estate investors identify undervalued properties. Working on my startup as part of the MBA opened up a number of opportunities for me to engage with the proptech community globally and to explore ideas and innovations that could be leveraged in the real estate industry.
IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS, WHAT AREA OF THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY DO YOU THINK WILL CHANGE THE MOST DRAMATICALLY?
I truly believe that real estate industry will be transformed by the power of data and automation that we see in other industries. Data is oil in the 21st Century and those real estate companies that will manage to collect, structure and leverage data to their own and their clients’ benefits will be the game changers in the real estate market.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY-DRIVEN INITIATIVE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION TODAY?
Global enterprise data platform is a massive step forward that CBRE is working on that will allow us to become a truly data driven company.
WHAT ROLE HAVE MENTORS PLAYED IN YOUR SUCCESS? HOW WOULD YOU ADVISE OTHERS TO DEVELOP STRONG RELATIONSHIPS WITH MENTORS?
I like the quote of Isaac Newton: “If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants” (1676 in his letter to his rival Robert Hooke). I believe that mentors play a big part in our success and it is impossible to progress and achieve big things in life without help and mentoring of others. I live by this principle and always ask for help and guidance from people who I respect and value as professionals and individuals.
I feel humbled and grateful when people so generously share their advice, experiences and support whenever I reach out to them. I’d like to give back and to help others succeed by being a mentor to them. Hence, the MetaProp Bridge is an exciting opportunity for me to be involved in coaching and mentoring young PropTech entrepreneurs by sharing my global property industry experience and playing a part in their aspirations to make a difference to the world.
My advice is to choose mentors based on respect and admiration to them as people and professionals. Importantly, it should be mutual for the relationship to last over a long time. Most of my mentors are my ex-colleagues and industry friends who I’ve known for many years and whose advice I value a lot.
WHAT IS ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T ALREADY KNOW?
I’m a big fan of fitness and became qualified as a personal trainer a few years ago.