Interview with Sandra Heymans, director at CBRE Property Management
“IT’S VITAL TO GIVE EVERYONE AN EQUAL PLATFORM SO ALL VOICES ARE HEARD”
Sandra Heymans, director at CBRE Property Management
With the opening of Tower Ten in late summer, the World Trade Center Amsterdam will boast another high-end addition. Responsible for coordinating and optimizing services for the building’s tenants and owners will be the CBRE Property Management team, one of the teams working at Zuidas that Sandra is ultimately responsible for. We sat down with her to talk about CBRE’s big plans, her firm’s vision on the future of Zuidas and why collaboration is so crucial in this district.
CBRE has carved out a prominent position in Zuidas. Can you tell us some- thing about your activities in the district?
“Our activities basically span everything connected to real estate and tenancy consulting, focused on creating value-add solutions. Currently, we manage around forty percent of building stock here and even have our own team on-site in the WTC. In other towers our presence may be less obvious, but our work behind the scenes has real effect. From welcoming new tenants, like in Tower Ten, to managing all facilities and technical systems we make sure buildings run smoothly. We pay a lot of attention to services that increase tenant satisfaction, on stage and in the wings.”
Your company is active in a number of business districts. How is Zuidas different from other places in the Netherlands?
“The scale and appeal of Zuidas are unequalled in this country. But also the diversity of this area and its position within the Amsterdam community are unique. Plus, there is so much in the works. The district was attractive already, but with all the new projects it keeps on getting better. To me, that’s really amazing.”
And yet, CBRE relocated its office to De Schinkel. Are you missing Zuidas at all? “Our former office at the Zuidas had its perks, but so has our new office at De Schinkel. Our new office, which is based in a former car garage, is a real showcase for our workplace design departments. We can present our philosophy here of what brings people to the office – to meet and collaborate – in a brilliant and innovative way. Our varied range of workspaces offers something for everyone, and the café is ideal for meeting with clients or grabbing a coffee. Renovating and using an existing building in a different way is sustainable and it aligns with CBRE’s sustainability goals of being completely energy neutral by 2040. We advise our clients on that as well. We are now in an up-and-coming area, but our office bicycles and cars get us to Zuidas in less than ten minutes.''
What’s your outlook on Zuidas and the future of this district? Will developments continue at the same fast pace, or will it tail off at some point?
“This location obviously has loads of potential and the municipality has big ambitions. Possibilities abound, and the completion of Zuidasdok will make it easier to reach and improve public transport connectivity even with all the growth. This has long been a point of concern and discussion, in terms of how do we keep the area accessible when plans are to build tens of thousands more square metres in offices and housing? How do we make that work with rush hours and parking, and how can we manage it? It’s important to coordinate this with all parties involved so we’re not all trying to invent our own wheel, but are actually pooling efforts for a solution that serves everyone.”
In this issue we’re spotlighting diversity and inclusion. Is CBRE doing anything on that front?
“Absolutely. We are guided in part by our RISE values, which stands for Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence, the first two of which incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion. These values are enacted in different ways in every country where CBRE operates, since each country has its own challenges. For that reason, we always try to attract people from different backgrounds. Having varied perspectives in our organization only makes it stronger, and it’s vital to give everyone an equal platform so all voices are heard. For CBRE, the main thing is that we value diverse ideas, because they’ll help the organization to carry on growing and achieving its objectives. Doing business is just more fun when you’re working with people from different backgrounds, a range of fields and with diverse interests, and so we’re working hard on that.”
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers of Hello Zuidas? “Zuidas is an incredibly densely built-up area, and we mustn’t forget the climate impact of all the amazing things we’re doing here. I think it’s really good that this is getting more attention. CBRE’s advisors play a role here, too. We guide our clients on how to do better, for example on how property owners can have a positive impact on the climate by reducing carbon footprint. Just recently we launched a special service focused on the social side of this process. We look at the role of buildings in the vicinity and find ways to connect people with each other, but also with the community in a broader sense. There’s more consideration for everybody, and people feel more seen and heard. We need to reach out to one another and find ways together to help and strengthen each other.”