How To Digitally Enable Buildings: Automating Control Over Systems and Spaces with Mark Furness and Kally Kang-Kersey
Summary: Louisa is joined by Mark Furness, Founder & CEO of essensys and Kally Kang-Kersey, Chief People Officer at essensys for the 8th episode of season 9 of The Propcast. During the course of the episode, they discuss what it means to digitally enable buildings and office spaces. Mark shares his journey from founding essensys back in 2006 to listing it on the stock exchange in 2019. Kally speaks about what people are looking for when joining a business in the post-pandemic world and how to build a successful business in a market that is constantly shifting. The discussion evolves into an overview of the major trends in the market and predictions for the future. 2019, 2020 and beyond have been a huge catalyst in terms of the change in real estate; post pandemic, people want purpose in their work and they want to be connected to the business that they're working in.
Key Insights From This Episode:
- Digitalisation and frictionless building experience are right at the heart of the real estate industry, as well as sustainability. - Mark
- Post pandemic, people want purpose in their work and they want to be connected to the business that they're working in. - Kally
- 2019, 2020 and beyond have been a huge catalyst in terms of the change in real estate. - Mark
- The operation of real estate has not had huge adoption because the acceleration of digital-first type solutions and digital enablement has only really happened in the last few years. - Mark
- We've got to create a growth mindset in our employees. - Kally
About Our Guests:
Mark Furness, Founder & CEO of essensys
Mark Furness is the CEO of essensys, the world’s largest provider of mission-critical software and services to the flexible workspace industry. He has over 15 years of experience in building global SaaS and IT organisations. With a focus on automation and self-service, he founded essensys in 2006 to change the way space providers deliver services and meet occupier requirements in the flexible office sector. Mark is passionate about innovation, customer success and company culture. He is a determined leader and a visionary, guiding essensys to a public listing on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange in May of 2019.
Kally Kang-Kersey, Chief People Officer at essensys
Kally Kang-Kersey is a true commercial business HR leader with over 25 years’ experience driving inspirational approaches to enable organisational change and human capital management at international and globally scaled technology-led businesses. She was most recently VP, Talent & Organisational Development at Zebra Technologies, a $4bn revenue global technology business, where she led their global talent function, and previously served as HR leader for EMEA. Prior to Zebra Technologies, she held various senior HR and leadership roles at Xerox, American Express and Yellow Pages Sales Ltd (BT).
In this newly created role of Chief People Officer, Kally joins essensys’ Executive and Operating Board, and will lead on all HR and human capital matters across the group, including talent development, culture, employee engagement, inclusion and diversity.
essensys is a leading global technology company for commercial real estate. Our platform is designed to solve the problems faced by today’s modern landlords and flex workspace providers, providing the intelligent digital backbone that enables the real-time provisioning of digital services through intelligent network automation.
essensys delivers a simple, secure and scalable solution that helps our customers to create digitally enabled buildings and spaces portfolio-wide, to deliver seamless experiences, and realise smart building and ESG ambitions. We simplify network management, reduce operational complexity, provide enterprise-grade security, deliver on-demand digital services and access the data and insights to drive success.
Founded in 2006, and AIM-listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2019, essensys is active in the UK, Europe, North America and APAC.
About Our Host
Louisa is the co-founder of LMRE, which has rapidly become the market leading global PropTech recruitment platform and search consultancy with operations across North America, United Kingdom, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
To promote the industry she is so passionate about, Louisa set up the Global podcast ‘The Propcast’ where she hosts and invites guests from the built environment space to join her in conversation about innovation.
LMRE is globally recognised for leading the way in Real Estate Tech & Innovation talent management.
From the outset our vision was to become a global provider of the very best strategic talent to the most innovative organisations in PropTech, ConTech, Smart Buildings, ESG, Sustainability and Strategic Consulting.
At LMRE we are fully committed at all times to exceed the expectations of our candidates and clients by providing the very best advice and by unlocking exclusive opportunities across our global network in the UK, Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific.
[03:05 ] Mark: Talk us through founding essensys in 2006 and give us some information about the product.
- essensys is the word ‘essential systems’ chopped up and I started it in 2006 because I wasn’t sure many people would consider employing me at that time or in the future.
- The world of technology especially IT and Service Delivery as well as the technology around network services was hugely complicated.
- The genesis of the business was could we automate and make self-service, the management to control IT and infrastructure in an enterprise?
[08:10 ] Mark: Can you give an example of someone who might be your customer?
- Think about the world's largest real estate brands and companies, whether it is flex, industrious or big asset owners.
- We have a global private network and then we have technologies that we control - imagine walking into a building, you can get your phone out and you can tap your phone and not only will it connect you to the network, but it will also open the door as well as book the space and charge you, all in less than half a second.
[11:30 ] Kally: What have you seen post-pandemic in terms of what people are looking for when joining a business?
- People want purpose and they want to be connected to the business they're working in.
- Communication and how we engage are more imperative than how many days we are working.
- Aligning your culture to the actions you want to see.
[16:20 ] Mark: In 2019, essensys IPO’d and raised a significant amount of capital, what has changed in the business since then?
- We bootstrapped to 2019 but we had to set our stall out for the future and the ambition of the business.
- It was an evolution in the real estate sector that drove that thinking.
[18:50 ] Mark: What are the major trends you've seen?
- I think the trends are the same, but I think they are accelerating.
- Since 2006, flex was already moving in the direction I thought it would go in.
- Finally sustainability. Do we do this as a tick box exercise? Do we do it because we're forced to? Is it part of the responsibility of real estate as such a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions?
[21:15 ] Kally: How do you build for success in such a rapidly changing market?
- We're evolving fast so companies can get wrapped up in the transactional but we're trying to transform.
- We launched our first sales academy from a structured methodology but also evolving and getting people to understand the impact we make.
- Everybody should be able to have a connection and passion for the company.
[24:45 ] Mark: What's next for essensys and what are your future predictions for the market?
- For essensys, we are looking for where we can work with those big global real estate providers and those at-scale flex providers to help them with their growth, with their digital transformation and to make their operations more efficient.
- Real estate is going back to the era of let & forget because buildings are becoming more autonomous.
- The main lesson I have learned is to be yourself, have authenticity in every part of what we do. I want people to challenge me and be passionate about what we are doing. The importance of a work-life balance.
[28:20 ] Kally: What are you excited about in the future of PropTech?
- Excitement through empowerment. If you are high energy, you’ve got curiosity, and you want to solve problems. It's a great culture. And, even when you fail, it's still a great culture.
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