From Ben Breslau
Director of Americas Research
While in town in Boston, JLL’s Americas Executive Committee recently visited one of the world’s foremost institutions for innovation, MIT. The group of roughly 15 was led by JLL Americas CEO Greg O’Brien and included Global President Christian Ulbrich, as well as several national businesses leaders. Local Market Director Jim Tierney, and Cambridge real estate expert Joe Flaherty joined me as our resident Boston participants.
Operating a large leading business like JLL can be all consuming, but we value and make time for outside perspective and continual learning. Our business is rapidly becoming an innovation and technology oriented business and the visit to MIT was a great way to open everyone’s eyes to what’s on the cutting edge. Bringing our leadership out into the market and specifically seeing East Cambridge, where Joe Flaherty gave the group a tour, reinforced what Greater Boston is all about.
Clearly people have heard of MIT, but until you go over there you don’t quite understand just how unique it is globally. It’s a fascinating and inspiring place. While the MIT environment is a world apart from ours, there were many threads from their approach to innovation and commercial application that resonated with us. They bring the best, cross-disciplinary minds together, let them experiment and collaborate in an unstructured environment often without a clear end goal or product in mind, and think very broadly about the uses and potential value.
Our visit included a guided tour of the MIT Media Lab, which is an amazing place and really embodies that unique interdisciplinary research model. While commercialization is a big focus at MIT, creativity and imagination was also clearly on display, almost more like what you would see at an art studio than a scientific research lab.
We also received a presentation from Professor Vladimir Bulovic who directs MIT’s Innovation Initiative and may be the smartest person we will ever get to meet. He explained Nano technology to us and gave us an overview of the new MIT.nano lab building currently being constructed in the heart of campus. Once complete, it will be the most expensive and advanced building at MIT and one of the most advanced nano tech buildings in the world. Our group was truly in awe.
Last but not least, we got a presentation from Steve Weikal and Dr. Andrea Chegut from the MIT Center for Real Estate, of which JLL is a partner. They talked to us about leading edge thinking and innovation in commercial real estate, and about some of the exciting research they are conducting which certainly had us engaged and thinking.
We have a lot of smart people that work at JLL and many of us truly have an entrepreneurial spirit. That was exceedingly evident during this trip, which served as a shot of adrenaline into that part of our DNA. It was fun to see our JLL leaders “geeking out” over what they saw, and the visit painted an enlightening picture of what’s possible.
Overall, the visit was an amazing way for our leaders here at JLL to engage in the Boston community and reinforce our commitment to the area’s major institutions in terms of partnership, learning, and leadership support.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you may.