Building Up Expertise
CapitaMalls Asia’s Regional Investment and Asset Management Executive, Zhang Tian, tells how he went from falling in love with the company’s shopping malls to joining the force behind them
Issue: Aug 2013
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Article is contributed by Zhang Tian, Executive, Regional Investment and Asset Management, CapitaMalls Asia
There has been a lot of excitement and fulfillment over the one and a half years of my career here at CapitaMalls Asia (CMA). The intensive and motivating career development programme that the company has in place has certainly helped me attain significant career milestones.
Learning from experienced professionals
December 2011 – May 2012, Beijing
The meeting room in the CMA Beijing office was crowded. The leasing manager, project manager and tax division colleagues were sitting on one side of a table, in a lively discussion. You might have thought that they were talking about a large shopping mall to be opened soon, or negotiating with contractors and tenants. However, it was one of the many insightful talks shared by experienced professionals to the newcomers. On the other side of the table, there were a lot of young and eager newcomers. I was one of them.
This was a Q&A session during the orientation programme arranged for the Management Associates, aimed at helping newcomers adapt to the workplace and develop new skills. Scheduling time for all the colleagues from different departments to take part in this session was no easy task at all. But it proved successful and efficient. The depth and breadth of discussion extended to areas such as the competitive landscape and retailers’ movements. The interactive discussion boosted our interests in the shopping mall business and encouraged us to think and explore deeper. We gained confidence for the next round of job rotation and our future career paths within the company. Needless to say, apart from being good mentors, these colleagues also became our good friends after the session.
My peers and I (first on the right facing camera) attending a Question & Answer session with colleagues from other departments
Like how CMA builds young people in the above scenario, it also builds beautiful buildings across many cities in Asia, including Beijing. The Haidian District in Beijing is famous for the cluster of tertiary education institutions and my university is among one of those. Xizhimen is the key transportation hub of Haidian District. Back in the years when I was still a student, every time I passed by Xizhimen to go downtown or return to campus, I would see one landmark building standing on top of the Xizhimen subway station. Yes, that is our CapitaMall Xizhimen.
Initially, my roommates and I would just go to CapitaMall Xizhimen for dinner as we were bored with the campus canteen food. Another reason for choosing to visit the mall was that it was just a 10-minute bus ride from our campus. However, as the years went by, the rich variety of cuisine and the great diversity of restaurants attracted us to the mall like a magnet and, along with many other people, we became repeat customers of the mall. Instead of just passing through the mall to get from the subway to the bus stop, I would stop at the atrium of the mall for the marketing events or check out the new brands at the mall. Gradually, CapitaMall Xizhimen became one of the regular hangouts for my classmates and me to dine, shop and be entertained.
CapitaMall Xizhimen, where I had much fun with my friends during my college years
After the completion of my masters programme, I came back to this fast growing ancient city. From being just a customer and neighbour of CapitaMall Xizhimen, I joined the company behind the mall and many other malls, to bring the same joy of shopping, dining and entertainment to others. So far, I have witnessed the grand opening of CapitaMall Taiyanggong and the current expansion into the South of Beijing, the Daxing District. Whenever I recall the process from knowing CapitaMall Xizhimen to joining CMA, I am truly grateful to the company for giving me the platform to grow. To me, running a shopping mall brings a different type of exciting experience compared to shopping in the mall, which most of us are familiar with.
Great Platform to Realise Career Goals
June 2012 - Present, Singapore
While the capital city of China is transforming and our company is riding on the robust growth of this city, I am embracing a new journey in this fast moving company. After half a year spent in Beijing, I came to the company headquarters in Singapore as part of my rotation. Even as the climate around me has changed drastically from the dry and cool spring of Beijing to the perpetually hot and humid weather of Singapore, the experience at CMA has remained consistently fruitful and memorable.
In Singapore, I see a more extensive presence of CMA and CapitaLand. Likewise, my work life has also become more intense after rotating to the Regional Investment and Asset Management Department (RIAM). Proactive asset management is major work which calls for cooperation from many departments. Since RIAM is one key coordinator of asset management work, I am able to gain wider exposure, ranging from lease structure and tenants’ sales analysis to mall operations. As a “dataholic” and spreadsheet lover, I enjoy this analytical job and the sense of fulfillment when providing strategic suggestions derived from the data analysis. What is more important is that through personally working on these tasks, I have accumulated knowledge of retail operations and capital management, and also gained insights into what the retail asset class is really like.
Apart from intellectually stimulating tasks, I also appreciate the beauty of our buildings as well as the work-life balance offered by CMA. Besides the beautiful Sentosa and other places of interest, I have also visited most CapitaMalls and those of our competitors’. Our thematic malls, such as The Star Vista, Bugis+ and JCube, have impressed me a lot. After I attended the CMA Family Day 2012 held at Bugis+, I went to the connected neighbouring mall, Bugis Junction. I walked through the mall to the atrium with push carts and transparent glass ceiling. There I saw one familiar face - CMA CEO, Mr Lim Beng Chee. He was still wearing the Family Day t-shirt and he looked like any other staff. I had the pleasure of hearing him share his knowledge about the history of this building, the idea of this design and the rationale of its operations. After the sharing, l learned that he came to check on our malls instead of watching the movie. Suddenly, I felt deeply touched. Although it was an informal chat, it was a good lesson for me to understand the secret behind our market leadership in the shopping mall business – our attention to detail.
My teammates and me (first on the right) at the CapitaLand Immersion Programme
In the past, the reason for joining CapitaLand Group was quite simple. As a student studying real estate for many years, I was attracted to CapitaLand as a successful developer and capital manager. After becoming a member of CapitaLand, I experienced the way CapitaLand builds people. Besides offering a great platform to be trained and work, there is one more inspiration - people can always find a great idol to follow.
The reason why CapitaLand’s buildings are different lie in its people. It is not only the columns and girders that carry these buildings, it is the CapitaDNA which holds up these crystallised beauties.
The year ahead promises to be again exciting and challenging. I am grateful for the opportunities that the company has provided me to realise my career goals and I am looking forward to greater career progress.
This new column entitled contributing articles to CapitaLand INSIDE Different Geographies.
CapitaDNA entails our 6 Core Values. These values and guiding principles represent how CapitaLand does business, how it treats its stakeholders and how the staff interacts in the workplace. As the Group continues to grow, this DNA is crucial in differentiating itself from the rest.
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