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Putting people first: Paul Craig

Paul Craig

During his two decades working in the property industry, Paul Craig has certainly learned a great deal. However, there’s one piece of advice that’s stuck with him in recent years. “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others,” he says.

Paul Craig, CEO of Savills Australia and New Zealand

Paul has worked at Savills Australia and New Zealand since 2002 and became CEO in 2016. In this role, he is focused on developing his employees and helping them achieve their goals, while also ensuring the team puts their clients at the centre of everything they do.

“We believe in our people. I try to instil an entrepreneurial spirit and ambition for continued growth within our employees,” Paul says. “At Savills, we do not strive to be the biggest, but we do aim to be the best, as judged by our clients. We have a strong culture that supports our employees. We have learned through experience that investing in our people will lead to better results for our clients too.”

One of the world’s leading real estate service providers, Savills was established in London in 1855 and entered the Australian market in 1995. Originally set up in Australia as independent state-run businesses, Savills went through a major restructure last year to transform it into an integrated national provider.

“Now, we have a truly national business with dedicated national business line leaders, who ensure we provide a consistent and dedicated approach to our clients,” Paul explains.

“This would not have been possible without the amazing culture of our people. I am so thankful to the leadership team and the state MDs, who had the courage to put their self-interest aside and be part of the transformation of our business.”

Paul says the restructure was a big milestone in Savills and has allowed the company to achieve accelerated growth. “We have increased our workforce by more than 25% in the past 12 months.

We know that is a lot of new people and it takes a lot of time and resources to integrate such a big change. Therefore, our ability to provide flexibility and training is critical,” he notes.

Savills’ internal learning and development platform offers a variety of courses that help employees to upskill. “We are fiercely committed to succession planning, learning and development. We are focused on producing tools to make our people shine and achieve beyond their expectations,” Paul adds.

“We have learned through experience that investing in our people will lead to better results for our clients too.”

Another highlight for Paul was the successful launch of a graduate global exchange program. “As Savills now employs more than 35,000 staff in 600 offices across 60 countries, it is wonderful being able to swap people between the Australian and London offices. It truly opens up new ideas and builds energy,” he enthuses.

“You cannot underestimate the power of being a truly global organisation. When I talk about us being entrepreneurial, it comes down to the fact that Savills has a very flat structure and everyone is encouraged to engage with our global network. This brings new ideas to deliver to our customers and innovative ways of doing business.”

Paul believes the property industry is essentially a “people business” that requires a personal approach in order to build strong relationships with clients. However, he concedes that technology is having a significant impact across the sector.

“We are focused on producing tools to make our people shine and achieve beyond their expectations.”

As a result, Savills has invested heavily in its property and asset management capability, tenant representation, workplace, supply chain and logistics with innovative mapping and virtual technology.

“Our customers are looking for us to not only be entrepreneurial, but also innovative, flexible and adaptive, particularly when it comes to office designs and workspace solutions,” Paul says.

“Having such a young workforce is a great driver for me to keep Savills focused on leading in the technology space. Our culture encourages free thinking and so much of what we do and achieve comes from our people.”

The culture is one of the things Paul enjoys most about leading the Savills team. “The fact that I get to run a business that does not micro-manage or over-manage people, but encourages free thinking, and has a focus on performance-based outcomes and bringing out the best in people, is a tremendous privilege,” he smiles.

“Culture makes anything possible. A team that works together wins together and this results in greater outcomes for our clients.”

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