How Oracle Keeps Its Real Estate Nimble
How does a large company like Oracle stay innovative? That’s the big question VP of real estate Michael Bangs (right) spent time explaining to stok’s Warren Neilson (left). Oracle considers innovation a product of problem solving.
The ability to approach a challenge, propose a solution and keep tackling the problem until a refined answer is found is a key cultural pillar the company is committed to in hiring and training, Michael said. Only with this culture can Oracle make the best use of its large real estate portfolio, he said.
Since the company has grown through acquisitions across many years, the problem is daunting. Legacy assets that reflect the style and sensibilities of an older era sit with newer startups that have just joined the firm. Oracle chose to approach the problem by deciding not to have a one-size-fits-all approach. The move saved on cost and the frustration of trying to do the impossible. Instead it takes the insights from recent acquisitions’ construction and office design and applies them where they can easily be deployed across the firm.
Another component of Oracle’s commitment to innovation is the establishment of a chief sustainability officer who oversees the company’s efforts to be energy efficient and lower operating costs. A top-down approach is complemented by soliciting feedback from building managers. The operators on the ground level are given money for projects that shrink the energy footprint.
A talented workforce and culture are the drivers of innovation. This way of approaching problems starts early, so one of Oracle’s largest philanthropic efforts is a high-tech charter school in Redwood City.
Oracle head Safra Catz provided 65k SF owned by the company for the effort. The architect was chosen in an unorthodox way: Candidates had to pitch their proposals directly to the students. Oracle’s decision was based on the best approach and who could establish the best rapport with the high school students.
The hope is that Oracle can hire these students to face the challenges of the future. These include smart offices, self-healing structures and the Uberization of office space. The innovators at Oracle will have to take advantage of the digital age while minimizing information security vulnerabilities.