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'We Are Aware Of Our Finite Resources And The Damage We Are Doing To Our Planet'

RPM's Philipp Braunwalder

Philipp Braunwalder began his career in banking where his responsibilities included asset management and mortgage lending. Post getting his MBA, he worked in the corporate development division of major U.S. contractor Turner Construction Co., and he was transferred to London in 2019 to help grow and manage their UK subsidiary, Real PM Ltd. Braunwalder is head of business development and administration at RPM as well as a Turner Resilience Champion.

Bisnow: Do you believe that we are in a unique period of transformation for the built environment, or has there always been a steady state of change?

Braunwalder: Every epoch in history has experienced its own unique period of transformation when it comes to the built environment. Indeed, each important period can be recognised by its own architectural style or the iconic buildings of the age. What makes this period more unique is the emphasis on sustainability and resilience. The focus is no longer solely linked to the aesthetics or what is possible. We are aware of our finite resources and the damage we are doing to our planet and therefore environmental, sometimes not as visible, aspects of buildings have become paramount. Changing the way we look at and invest in real estate. This trend will continue at an accelerated pace.

Bisnow: What skills will be essential to succeed in the real estate industry in the future?

Braunwalder: Core financial skills and an understanding of risk and how it is mitigated will always be important. While those that excel in sourcing funds will continue to be successful, a better understanding of the property's end use will be a huge competitive advantage going forward. Land use is constantly changing and with the problems faced by retail, a global pandemic and an increasingly important Generation Z, those people who understand how to put properties to use most effectively will be very successful. Added to that, a deep understanding of green buildings will also be a skill that will allow legislative and social risks to be mitigated. An innovative and creative mindset will become more important to succeed in our industry.

Bisnow: Will new roles exist in real estate in 2035 that don't exist now; and conversely will any current roles disappear by then?

Braunwalder: Yes, most definitely! The operative side of a building will move away from the tenant and more into the realm of the investor, developer and asset manager. The "as a service" component will become more prevalent as the industry copes with the increased impact of tech and online consumerism. This will lead to roles for those people currently in hospitality, fashion and other industries. A complete 180-degree turn from the past 20 years, where great arbitrage opportunities allowed investors to carve the bricks and mortar out of operative companies for a revaluation as real estate enterprise with a higher multiple! Tech will also reduce the number of brokers currently working in the industry and will also have a negative impact on the facilities management sector. At the same time there will also be a new class of real estate software developers. ESG will also lead to new roles, but this is a whole separate chapter.

Bisnow: How does technology support your current role, and what additional tech do you envisage for the future?

Braunwalder: Technology supports my current role from a CRM perspective and our interactions with clients. In the project management and planning of construction sites, technology has massively improved the transparency for end clients. 4D modelling and visual presentations of data has greatly enhanced the efficiency of client/project team interactions. Tech will have a huge impact on the future of the built environment and will be key to bridging the current innovation gap in order to hit the sustainability targets that will protect our planet and the welfare of future generations.