Meet Kristian Syson, our Head of Real Estate Advisory and Partnership Development

“Real estate is multifaceted, and the development of IREP Property enables us to provide clients with a tailored solution at every step of the property lifecycle.”

Kristian Syson joined us in September this year and has an ambitious target of adding 21 new offices over the next five years. To help achieve this goal, Kristian is eager to speak with those with an entrepreneurial flair from a real estate advisory or transactional background.

Kristian has worked in several international locations including the UK and US. He brings over 25 years of experience in building and leading real estate businesses. He plans to steer the international growth of IREP Property, from the founders’ brainchild to the multinational business it will become.

In this article, Kristian discusses his role, the culture at IREP, trends in the Middle East and his thoughts on IREP Property’s future.

What does your role involve as Head of IREP Property?

Early in 2021, IREP signed a partnership agreement with Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates (SperryCGA) – a US commercial real estate brokerage business. The agreement was to open 21 affiliate offices in 16 countries outside of the US by 2024. The collaboration is set to open up cross-border trade for US companies looking to explore new opportunities beyond the US. It will also help companies looking to increase their US penetration.

With the support of our fantastic team, my primary role is developing this cross border, full-service real estate advisory platform. The platform offers clients a results-focused, bespoke service to address their particular needs. Whether in property agency/brokerage, property management, development consultancy, research or property valuation. The platform will offer access to the complementing wider IREP business:

  • Hard and soft facilities management
  • IoT and lighting solutions
  • Energy and asset management
  • Innovative vertical farming solution. (This will support the ever-growing need to ensure food security and reduce the carbon footprint of the food we consume).

With our ambitious rollout plans, we are excited to speak with experienced real estate and property professionals across the globe to partner with us, either as an employee in a target market, a joint venture partner or a franchise. So, please do get in touch with either myself or Manuel Pelaez if you would like to know more.

The other side to my role is directly supporting IREP clients, new and old, with their real estate and property needs. Whether that be a new property in an emerging market, an investment in one of the key centres around the globe, or development finance to see a project come to life. Both parts of my role are equally challenging and exciting. I am, of course, very fortunate to have a fantastic team working with me to see the vision take shape.

With 25 years of experience, what made you want to work for IREP?

IREP is a fast-paced, energetic group of like-minded individuals building a sustainable and scalable business and having fun. Having known Kenny and Kamran for about ten years, I remember sitting with Kenny over a coffee and sketching out his plan for IREP. Seeing how Kenny, Kamran and the team have grown the company of the last eight or nine years is fantastic. It was always in the plan that, at the appropriate time, I would join IREP. When they asked if I would come and work with them to launch IREP Property, I jumped at the chance. With IREP and IREP Property, we have an opportunity to be a disrupter in a market that, as we learn to adapt due to the pandemic, is rapidly changing.

How would you describe the culture at IREP?

We are very client-focused. We provide customised client solutions and ensure we always do the right thing. Whilst having some fun, of course.
Being a global company, our colleagues are from many different backgrounds, but the team is inclusive, which is driven from the top.
Despite the company’s size, IREP is still privately owned, with both Kenny and Kamran being very open with their management styles and always open to new ideas.

You are based in Bahrain, what are the key trends you’ve observed in the region?

The Middle East region has been slightly more resilient to the pandemic through a decisive strategy and an excellent vaccine role out programme. But as with all areas, high street and face to face retailing and food and beverage industries were hit hard. However, this did open up several online sectors, whether that be new food delivery services or retailers opening up online delivery. The entrepreneurial spirit of people in the region is astonishing. Even in uncertain times, there is a rise in home ground industries, whether in tech, fashion or food and beverage.

In real estate, flexibility is at the top of most agendas. However, governments and organisations are looking at sustainability, and COP26 is around the corner, further focusing on this critical topic. Mega projects continue at a pace in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain continues to be a tech hub and scoring highly in the World Bank’s ease of doing business survey. In the UAE, Expo 2020 has hit Dubai with all that it brings. ‘UAE & MENA Real Estate Report’, produced by Informa Markets in 2021, found that 74 per cent of respondents are anticipating a recovery for the MENA region’s real estate industry within one to two years since 2020. A key proponent of this growth is regional mega-events such as Expo 2020.

How is IREP adapting to the post-pandemic world?

I am not sure we are post-pandemic yet, are we?
As a facilities management and real estate advisory company, we were seen as providing critical services by many of our clients. Therefore, business was not negatively impacted by the pandemic. Given the culture and nature of our business, we operate a flexible working policy anyway. Being a global company, we work in multiple times zones, so there is no such thing as a 9-5. So for us, business as usual. We are adopting delivery models and so forth as clients adapt and continue to follow our COVID protocols and recommendations implemented during the pandemic. As we advance, we will continue to advise clients on their use of real estate and adapt our advice and delivery to suit individual client requirements.

Looking ahead to the next 12-24 months, what is your vision for IREP Property?

We will be well on the way to hitting our ambitious growth target to open 21 offices in the key cities and real estate markets across the globe. It will only be achieved through our team’s dedication and making some sustainable partnerships in the industry. I am excited about enhancing our network, breaking new boundaries and meeting new partners.

We are looking forward to seeing Kristian grow in his role and seeing his visions for IREP Property becoming a reality.

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