Ramesh Nair – A Chennai Boy Becomes Head Of India’s largest IPC

Ramesh Nair has had a 17-year long journey with JLL India. He began as a humble analyst at the Firm’s Chennai office. His middle-class upbringing has taught him the importance of focus, hard work, discipline and humility.

Meet Ramesh Nair – the suave, tech-savvy and relatively young entrant to India’s elite corps as CEO and Country Head at JLL India – the country’s largest and leading International Property Consultancy. Nair’s 17-year long journey with JLL India began as a humble analyst at the Firm’s Chennai office. From this entry-level position to the top slot, Nair has risen through the ranks with an unwavering focus on his and his teams’ performance. The keywords on this journey were hard work, discipline, resilience and decisiveness.

“Quick decision-making is invaluable in business. There are challenging times when very tough business decisions have to be made – for the Indian real estate industry, one such period was the one that came on the heels of the GFC (global financial crisis). From the hunky-dory days preceding the GFC in late 2007 to an existential crisis of sorts (which became evident from 3Q 2008 onward) everything changed for JLL – and me,” shares Nair, who was then managing the Firm’s key South Indian markets and the pan-India industrial business.

Unlike the blink-and-miss impact of 9/11 which occurred when the Indian real estate market was small, the post-GFC impact on this industry was much worse as the it had scaled up considerably. Such was the effect that Nair’s own career appeared to have sunk into limbo. However, he decided to face the professional and business crisis head on, and among his first decisions was narrowing his focus on potentially highly profitable segments to gain market share for JLL India, while moving away from the lesser profitable ones.

“Without watching and waiting for normalcy to return, JLL India took some tough decisions without compromising on the culture of trust and team work. Insecurities were appeased through regular team communication in an optimistic manner. Once they were assured of their value, the teams focused on delivering results. We at senior management level also took salary cuts to demonstrate how everyone was playing their part to get the Firm through the crisis,” says Nair, who personally went out to clients and worked harder with them as well as his teams.

Nair feels that it is important at such times for such a large Firm to stay focused on improving productivity as also centralizing decision-making so that strategies can be tweaked and results measured. He did his best to maintain and build on JLL’s image as a confident organization, and reinforcing its legacy of emerging victorious from uncertain times. He feels his middle-class upbringing has taught him the importance of focus, hard work, discipline and humility.

Throughout his career, Nair has focused on strategy, clients and his team members. He has always worked towards ensuring that he had new insights and discussions at every client meeting. Over the years, he has also consciously worked towards differentiating himself in the crowded space of real estate consultants, leveraging his and the Firm’s presence in the mainstream and social media – and, most importantly, by earning the full trust of his clients.

“Building thought leadership and personal credibility and presence is important because clients and modern audiences increasingly tend to trust people more than companies. I understood early on in my career the importance of demonstrating to clients how their long-term success was more valuable to me than achieving my own quarterly targets. I would at times advise clients against certain transactions if I felt that more opportune times were ahead for theme,” adds Nair, whose LinkedIn profile is one of the most-viewed among JLL employees globally.

As Nair steps into his new role at the helm of JLL India, he will strive to drive its emergence as an even more people-oriented professional organization, which will also add a ‘cool’ quotient to the company’s employer branding efforts. In a marketplace which is rapidly evolving on the back of the recent changes in India’s regulatory framework and technology’s emergence as a major disruptor, Nair sees leadership as being all about having a ‘long-term view and a common purpose.’ His personal mantra is and will remain: “Lead from the front to serve our people and clients”.

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S. Kapeed