Marco Hekman from trainee to CEO
You have come a long way in the organisation. What do you remember most about the time you first joined CBRE?
“The real estate sector had always interested me. So when I began as a trainee at CBRE in the Netherlands, that was the best career start I could have wished for. I was trained by the then Valuations Director. In two years I learnt so much from him about the profession of valuer and about the sector as a whole. Doing valuations, you have to deal with almost every aspect of real estate, which makes it a perfect training ground. When my director left, for a couple of years I carried on conducting valuations on behalf of CBRE on my own. That’s hard to imagine now, with the current size of our company. After that I moved to the Investment Department, where I worked a lot with the director of CBRE Netherlands. This was also a great experience. I discovered just how much you can learn from the knowledge and insights of senior professionals. It’s important that you’re always properly supervised as a trainee. At CBRE as it is now, we still try to organise that properly for our trainee and student placement positions.”
What is the most important thing you learnt back them?
“That unbridled commitment is indispensable for professional advancement. To be eager to learn and to want to familiarise yourself with all aspects of the business. And not to be afraid of stepping up your pace. The company was growing fast in the Netherlands at that time, which gave me plenty of opportunities to develop. But even with all the guidance you receive as a trainee, you still have to show that you’re keen.”
“It gives you a great kick when you work with people who always give their best. You feel and see that everyone is enjoying what they do, and they are achieving the best results. That’s so characteristic of CBRE!” – Marco Hekman, CEO, CBRE Netherlands Joined CBRE as a Trainee Valuer in 1988. Now Managing Director, Continental Europe, and CEO, CBRE Netherlands
What else was important? What advice do have for young people in the company today?
“Real estate is a very commercial environment. Regardless of which area of consultancy you end up in, broad general knowledge and a certain level of commercial intelligence are basic requirements to understand the processes in this sector. Naturally, you learn a lot during your traineeship or junior position. But you also have to be fascinated by real estate: it has to retain your interest even outside working hours. What I’m really talking about here is ‘entrepreneurial spirit’. Every employee should have something of the entrepreneur in them. So that they know the broader context in which the business operates, they know the markets we work in and they know what services we offer. I therefore advise new employees to develop that entrepreneurial spirit. Because then you are able to spot opportunities and know how to use them. If you do, it often turns out fantastically, and sometimes less so. You have to be daring – that’s all part of doing business. And of achieving growth.”
Why did you originally choose real estate at the time? And have you ever regretted it?
“Not for a second have I ever regretted it. And I deliberately chose real estate – it’s simply the most enjoyable sector to work in. I still find it exciting every day, seeing if a deal goes through. I still care about how investment values develop and about trends in the rental market. I still enjoy conversations with clients and what real estate means to them. I can’t remember a period in which I haven’t learnt new things or not witnessed exciting developments in our sector. Not ever, so far. I firmly believe that once you’ve chosen real estate, you wouldn’t want to do anything else!”
Laura Hovestad | Consultant
Danny de Lange | Senior consultant