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Conference: Meet the Chairmen – New Generation Leaders

 

Panelists: Benjamin Cha, Chief Executive of Grosvenor Limited, Kenneth Gaw, President & Managing Principal of Gaw Capital Partners, Dr. Aron Harilela, Chairman & CEO of Harilela Hotels Limited and Bosco Law, Deputy Chairman & CEO of Lawsgroup

Moderator: Andrew Work

New generation leaders are taking an increasingly decisive role in their family business. They leverage on existing resources, explore new opportunities, and make the judgment call to lead their business to the next level. Our panelists Benjamin Cha, Kenneth Gaw, Dr. Aron Harilela, and Bosco Law – together with the moderator Andrew Work, presented a profound discussion on the challenges and opportunities they work on every day as a young leaders.

One topic the panel covered was the proactiveness of the regulatory body being a new trend in the real estate business – which may include creative space design, property usage conversion and sustainability. At the frontier of the real estate business, young leaders are keen on executing advanced development concepts into their projects. However, sometimes they may face the dilemma between the goodwill concepts and economic feasibility. For example, Mr. Gaw mentioned one of his redevelopment projects in which they added an atrium into the structure to allow more natural light. As a result, they had to give up gross floor area. As zoning regulations were not allowing to build more gross floor area, the developer could not mitigate such loss. Mr. Law also mentioned another challenge related to regulatory body, which is the difficulty of getting permits to conduct conversion between property types. In reaction to regulatory environment, developers, especially young leaders in the business, need to take an active role in pushing the advancement of regulation to enhance the quality, efficiency and sustainability of real estate development.

Digital disruption was another discussion topic. Although technology is transforming the industry, with retail as an obvious example, certain elements cannot be replaced by technology. For example, Dr. Harilela put forward that in hospitality, in which intimate relationship with customers is still key to the success of the hospitality sector, and such personal interaction can only be achieved by real person service. Therefore, when facing new trends, it is important for young leaders to understand each different sector and obtain in-depth analysis regarding how the sector is going to be influenced.

Operating the business in an international context, panelists also stressed on the importance of understanding cross-border issues such as terrorism, political risks, and taxation policy for foreign investors. Mr. Cha emphasized that thorough research of local markets and high-level comprehension as to the underlying opportunities and threats is crucial when looking to expand into different regions.

 


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MSRED Columbia University

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