Colin Dyer reflects on his career at HBS Summit

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Colin Dyer with moderator Harvard Professor Arthur Segel.

President and CEO Colin Dyer was the keynote as part of Harvard Business School’s Real Estate Summit. Here is an excerpt from his Q&A with Arthur Segel, Poorvu Family Professor of Management, Harvard Business School.

Q.: I’m impressed with your experience. For the benefit of our students, how did you land the position at JLL?

A: JLL was looking for someone with  global, not necessarily real estate experience, to take them to the next level. When I received the position, I was told by a member of the search committee that I was selected on the good word of a London cabbie. My jaw dropped upon hearing the news. I built a friendship with a taxi driver who recommended me for the job. Do not underestimate the footprint you leave with people.

Q: Why is today great for real estate?

A: Today’s macroeconomic fundamentals paint a strong picture with: low interest rates, availability of debt, a plethora of global equity, and low returns on other asset classes. In addition, consumer confidence has recovered.

Q: Where should a real estate investor direct $1 billion?

A: This first depends on the risk profile and horizon of the investor. Assuming a ten-year horizon, I’m bullish on China’s future and the growth potential there. I’m also optimistic about new development in top tier US cities given tightening vacancy rates.

Q: What about Europe?

A: Look for high yield and low security assets. It’s important to focus on transparent markets like London. The overall long term picture for Europe is structurally low growth rates.

Q: How has technology changed real estate?

A: Technology is filling a gap in real estate information. Firms are making data readily available leading to more efficient markets. Also technology drives markets toward best in class space, particularly in cities.

Q: What is the greatest threat to real estate markets?

A: A lot revolves around the global banking system. I would like to see quantitative easing end. I would also like interest rates begin to rise so the central banks can create liquidity again.

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