When Jane Lloyd arrived in the U.S. from Australia two years ago, she was working with very nearly a blank slate. The managing director of U.S. investments for Sydney-based DEXUS Property Group was in charge of developing an administrative team to oversee the company’s stateside portfolio of properties. After moving to the company’s Newport Beach U.S. headquarters, she needed to recruit people who worked well together while providing an insider’s perspective on the 15 U.S. markets in which DEXUS operates.
Smart Business spoke with Lloyd about how she built and continues to maintain a cohesive and productive leadership team at DEXUS, which generated nearly $90 million in revenue in 2010.
When you moved into your current position, how did you assess what you needed to do for the business moving forward?
Initially, I dealt with moving here from Australia, spending the first six months in Chicago and then moving to Southern California. From there, I needed to establish a team in order to execute DEXUS’ business strategy in the U.S.
Because we were setting up a whole new platform, I needed to understand effectively what our property portfolio was. We have $1.3 billion of property across the United States, so I needed to understand what that property looked like and what those markets were. And then I needed to put a team together on the West Coast and get that team up to up to speed in terms of how DEXUS operates. Then I needed to leverage the deep market knowledge that the team has, being local players. So as far as assessing the situation, if you think of it in terms of people and property, it’s establishing a good team and understanding where the property in the markets are.
When it came to establishing the team, how did you do that?
We had two options. One was we could just do one by one by one, and recruit that way. The other way was to look at hiring an existing team. We looked at about 50 companies on the West Coast. We interviewed 15, did due diligence on three, and at the end of the day, we chose a really great team here in Newport Beach. One of the really important things for us was cultural fit, and we’ve found that the team has been a great cultural fit. Beyond that, we’ve built the team from an initial count of nine people to a total of 21 in our office today.
How would you tell other business leaders to build a team that can address the needs of the markets you serve?
First, you need a clear plan. We’re very focused on what our strategic plan is, and remaining nimble with regard to whatever the market opportunities are as they arrive. Then you need to continually communicate that plan. To that, we have formal and informal communication mechanisms such as team meetings, performance reviews and so forth. The other thing, which is something we’re very big on, is celebrating your successes. We try to stop occasionally and just socialize with the team. One of our favorite things we do is to have drinks on the patio on Friday afternoons. We have drinks and discuss the week, and if there is something we want to acknowledge within the team, that is normally the time to do it.
Once you have the team in place, how do you develop a strategic plan?
We think that in order stay ahead of your competition, you need good, solid research-based metrics, and that needs to be complemented by strong local market knowledge. So it’s a combination of research and market knowledge that helps you understand where you want to go and what you want to do, and then stay ahead of your competition. In terms of the way we run our strategic planning, we have a top down and bottom-up approach. Our board is involved annually in looking at a three-year strategic plan, which we develop. And we also have contributions from all of our teams in terms of input and making sure everybody understands what all of that looks like, and more importantly how we’re going to execute that plan.
How to reach: DEXUS Property Group, (949) 724-8886 or www.dexus.com