Tuesday 16 July 2019

The right moves: Wicklow's Louise Barry fulfils global ambition

Paul McNeive
Paul McNeive

Paul McNeive

Wicklow woman, Louise Barry, Director, International Transaction Management for CBRE, is responsible for winning and leading the firm's global transaction management mandates across most of the world. On a recent trip to Chicago, I met her at CBRE's stunning 34th floor downtown offices to hear more about her career.

Barry started with the firm in London in 2007 in a business development role for its European team, working with clients on outsourcing their property requirements, including project management, facilities management and leasing activity.

She was eminently qualified for corporate work, having completed both a Masters in marketing and the Smurfit Kappa Graduate Programme which she says gave her a great grounding in business. A year working and studying in Japan helped too.

After a period travelling in South America, she joined CBRE in Sydney and then accepted an offer to join its Chicago offices in 2014, as it provided a greater opportunity in corporate services, in "a more mature outsourcing industry".

In the area of global corporate services, the large firms of estate agents compete to win global mandates to handle all of a client's property requirements across the world. The advantage of this for clients might include a discounted fee schedule, but also a consistent standard of service and uniform reporting procedures.

However, as Barry points out, her team offers a very high level of added value - providing advice to corporate clients, for example, on global strategy. This involves understanding your client's business and advising them on where they should be located, and what properties they should own rather than lease. It could also include "benchmarking a client's portfolio against the market", a type of asset management, looking for opportunities to maximise flexibility and reduce costs. This might mean identifying a 'blend-and-extend' deal, to combine leases or perform an early renewal, offering the landlord a longer term and locking in a lower rent, or looking at co-working opportunities to provide more flexibility in the portfolio.

Outsourcing and Facilities Management are further services provided by the CBRE Global Workplace Solutions Department and where Barry has also played business development roles. This involves putting experts into client firms, examining their vendor costs and using CBRE's buying power to achieve savings. She tells me they typically deliver net-operating cost savings for clients of between 12pc and 15pc versus their current baseline spend. Other benefits arise under capital expenditure, risk mitigation, compliance and vendor consolidation.

Barry is responsible for teams across Europe, Asia and Latin America, and this includes optimising delivery of transactions for firms globally headquartered in Chicago and ensuring alignment with her clients' business strategy. "Clients need to be getting the same approach, the same processes and the same feedback from us," she tells me.

Part of her role is to drive best practice among CBRE teams. She provides centralised management and is a 'point of escalation' for CBRE teams and clients. "If a challenge arises, I sort it out," she says. She also brings tools like new technology or improvements in space utilisation and labour analytics out to the regions.

The differing time zones means a lot of late night phone calls and 'virtual meetings'. Typical clients are FMCGs (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) and global pharmaceutical companies. "If it's logistics or a factory in Mumbai, or a retail chain in London, my hub teams will deliver that," Barry says.

"The key to it all," she adds "is maximising your corporate knowledge, how your client's businesses work, and translating that into their property requirements." Barry says her fees are an overall advisory fee, plus the exclusive transaction management fees for the firm. "We do the strategy and governance, and the brokers do the deals."

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