PRODA X Leaders in Property and Technology –  Sara Shank

In our latest ‘Leaders in Property and Technology’ blog, we spoke with Sara Shank, Global Head of Innovation at PGIM Real Estate, one of the largest real estate managers in the world with $195.4 billion in gross assets.

PRODA: Hi Sara, you recently returned from the Blueprint conference. Did it leave you feeling optimistic about how the real estate industry is digitising? Or is there still a long way to go?

I left the conference feeling very positive about the amount of interest and investment in innovation across the industry. There are an amazing amount of really exciting products being created that will ultimately lead to the transformation of our industry. Saying that, we still have a long way to go and we need to reduce the fragmentation of product offerings – which makes it challenging for landlords to implement solutions – in order for a true transformation to occur. 

PRODA: As Global Head of Innovation at PGIM Real Estate, what are some of the big priorities for you right now?

PGIM Real Estate is focused on finding innovative solutions that will solve pain points across the different areas of our business and the property types that we invest in. In order to do that, internally we have set up 14 different innovation councils that have over eighty different people on them, addressing more than 35 different identified pain points. For example, we have a US Office Innovation Council that is chaired by our Head of US Office Asset Management, as well as a Global ESG Innovation Council that is chaired by one of our ESG specialists. The councils focus on everything from lease abstracting technology and solar technologies to water leak detection. The innovation team that I lead is also focused on other cross-company priorities like EV charging, 5G, and tokenization.

PRODA: We’re beginning to see more and more owners and operators create roles like yours that focus on innovation. How does someone specialise in innovation? How did you end up in your current role?

I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to innovation in real estate. It really depends on what an individual company needs from the innovation role. For PGIM Real Estate, my background in real estate has been incredibly helpful. I have a deep understanding of the business needs since I’ve worn many hats on the business side (everything from asset management, to accounting, to acquisitions, to portfolio management). My industry experience allows me to really understand the technologies that I’m evaluating and determine whether they’re able to solve the pain points that have been identified.

Many thanks to Sara for taking the time to speak with us. We will be back soon with another post as we continue to speak to leaders across the industry.

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PRODA X Leaders in Property and Technology – Ronan Curran

PRODA X Leaders in Property and Technology – Ronan Curran

We continue our Leaders in Property and Technology blog with Ronan Curran, Advisory MD of Financial Due Diligence at KPMG US, which provides advice to real estate public corporates and private equity clients on domestic and cross-border acquisitions and divestitures....

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