Perseverance has proven to be the winning formula for Jones Lang LaSalle Associate Director, Dara Byrne, after he was recently named Project Manager of the Year in the Fit Out Awards in Ireland at the second time of asking. Construction Industry News caught up with Mr Byrne to see how the success was achieved and to find out how he’s looking to build on the accolade in 2015.
“Winning the award means a great deal, particularly as I was also a finalist in 2013 when I unfortunately didn’t win,” says Mr Byrne. “It’s fantastic acknowledgement from the industry but also provides us with a huge amount of kudos that will help us with prospective clients, as well as further reinforcing our reputation with those customers we’ve worked with already.”
As for how Mr Byrne was able to go one step further in the 2014 Fit Out Awards, he believes significant importance can be attributed to the fact that Jones Lang LaSalle has benefitted from the returning confidence within the Irish market, particularly in Dublin, which has attracted some stellar names recently. “It really boils down to the volume of work we’ve completed and how we’ve grown in the last 18 months. “My general take on the market at the moment is that confidence is coming back. We’ve seen increased foreign direct investment within Ireland and more companies are looking to come into the country because of the strengths we have as a nation: we’re an English-speaking country, we’re within the Eurozone and we’ve got a highly educated, young and mobile workforce. Companies are seeing Ireland as a key location to place their business. Coupled with the foreign investment has been the domestic growth that has followed the ‘bounce back’ in the economy, which is leading to opportunities for Irish companies too. As they require more office space this leads to a rising demand for fit-out projects, which is where we slot in. We’ve been pitching for the work and because of our reputation and quality-led approach we’ve been winning our share. Obviously it’s a competitive market so you can’t win them all but at the moment we’re probably the leading fit-out project management company in the country.
“Our portfolio is ever-growing and having the likes of Deutsche Bank and Amazon as two of our most prestigious clients really helps to set us apart from the competition. Combined they involved 200,000 sq ft of fit out that we’ve completed in the last 12 months.”
Key to the consistency that Mr Byrne and the rest of his colleagues at Jones Lang LaSalle have been able to demonstrate has been ensuring that the company’s infrastructure and team has developed in tandem with the growth it has seen. “Our success is primarily due to the team we have in place, the way we approach projects and how we treat our clients. On top of their in-depth understanding of real estate, our project management team has a much broader range of expertise as we’ve got engineers and building surveyors onboard. This provides us with a solid knowledge base on which to develop our operations. As a large company we have significant resources to draw on and if we need any additional information or support from our local office here in Dublin or from the UK or even further afield we can call on that too.
“When we expand we strive to select the best candidates for the roles we’re looking to fill, while at the same time we work with our clients to fully understand their brief and their needs from the very outset. As a result we have many repeat clients who come back to us time and time again because of the standard of service we offer.”
One particular example has been Jones Lang LaSalle’s burgeoning relationship with Saleforce.com, for which it has not only completed an extensive amount of work in Ireland but has also been given the mandate to provide management all its projects across EMEA. In addition, in the last few months Mr Byrne has personally been appointed as the delivery manager for all Amazon projects across Ireland and the UK.
Although Jones Lang LaSalle is continuing to capitalise on the resurgent marketplace within Ireland, there remain a number of challenges that the company is having to contend with, particularly with regards to meeting the requirements of a discerning and demanding customer base. “Our clients are spread across banking, IT and pharmaceutical and they all have different requirements,” says Mr Byrne. “Many of these companies are very fluid and are expanding so are taking on new projects and new business. Meeting their needs and the inevitable client-led changes throughout a project is therefore key and it’s vital that we’re flexible enough to accommodate whatever alterations are made.
“There’s always change and managing that change can be challenging. It’s something that’s much easier to cope with on smaller projects but on the larger schemes there tend to be internal businesses within each of the companies that we work for. They have their own internal requirements and they’re all competing against each other. That gets filtered down and passed over to the project manager so usually we’re given a long list of changes and adaptations to what was originally designed to be constructed onsite. It’s all about reacting and being able to manage that change on behalf of our clients during the design, the procurement, the construction and closeout phases.”
With Mr Byrne’s award and the general growth Jones Lang LaSalle’s has seen underlining the strength of the company’s approach, it is now looking to replicate this success moving forward in 2015. “In the short term our objective is to continually grow over the next two to three years, expanding the department as we do so in order to increase our service offering for the client. We have already identified a number of elements that we believe our clients would be interested in. We’ve got to adapt and change to be able to service our clients’ needs, which include small office fit-outs, design and architecture, cost management and quantity surveying, in order to provide a complete turn-key solution.
“We’re happy with the team we have but obviously we’ll be looking to add to the numbers and increase that service over the next number of years as we grow. If we don’t adapt and add to our service offering to meet the client’s needs then we run the risk of becoming static. To remain an attractive proposition you need to be able to provide a full menu of services.
“In general terms your success is only ever based on the amount of repeat business you get and we have a huge number of clients who continuously come back because they know the team and the standards we all operate to. Northern Trust is another great example as we’ve worked with them since 2006. If a client is happy with the service provided and there were no issues then they will come back to you – that’s the benchmark we set ourselves.”
With the standards it adheres to Jones Lang LaSalle is sure to see its relationship with its client base continuing to build and from Mr Byrne’s perspective it wouldn’t be at all surprising if further awards were to come his way in the future too.