Gillian Serisier sits down with Emma Forster Mitrovski to discuss her role as CEO and Unispace’s unique strengths in strategy, design and construction.
June 2nd, 2022
When it comes to pairing expertise with role, there could be no better fit than new CEO Emma Forster Mitrovski with Unispace.
In broad strokes, Unispace offers a comprehensive commercial offering that unites strategy, design, and construction as a single viable and deliverable entity. Enter Forster Mitrovski, with a background in corporate real estate, town planning, master planning, residential development, construction and corporate restructuring for some of the largest players in the field, and you have a match made in heaven.
Moreover, she has never been stationary, with one significant endeavour seamlessly leading to another: “I’ve worked on master planning and strategic workplace design projects over the years. Early in my career, I was involved with the PricewaterhouseCoopers merger and brought the individual partners’ studios together with a big consolidation plan. I’ve also worked for Colonial First State Property as part of a team delivering the master planning project that aggregated their CBD locations.”
And, that is just a snippet.
What drives this incredible talent is an innate pleasure in understanding how to optimise bringing all the pieces together.
Her role with Colonial First State Property led to: “launching a start-up joint venture between Colonial First State Property and Transfield Service, called Five D aimed at integrating the outsourcing model to bring facilities management and property management together and sell that as an end to end service,” says Forster Mitrovski.
In doing so she grew the business exponentially over 10 years before overseeing the sale to JLL: “I really love that start-ups are quite nimble, and allow for a lot of creativity and entrepreneurialism. So that process was huge, huge fun for me.”
From there she set up the corporate real estate business for Broadspectrum, securing large commonwealth government contracts. CBRE then tapped her on the shoulder to lead GWS, its global outsourcing business in Australia and New Zealand.
As senior managing director for CBRE, she and her team of 650 property professionals delivered integrated facilities management, property and project management services via long term contracts to big corporates with large scale portfolios across the region.
For Forster Mitrovski, who was interested in getting back into a creative mid-sized business, the Unispace role presented her with the opportunity to utilise the sum of her experience to instigate exponential growth.
“Taking on this CEO role gives me the opportunity to apply the skills I have developed managing big corporate teams, but also drawing on my experience with a start-up business that went from five of us and ended up selling to JLL when we grew to 200 headcount servicing over 5500 client sites nationally,” says Forster Mitrovski.
Moreover, she was impressed by the calibre of expertise joining the Unispace team: “The private equity business PAG that acquired Unispace, had started bringing in impressive senior global property industry executives, there’s some really smart people that I’ve admired for many, many years in the sector, and heavy hitters in the board room. So, it impressed me.”
Additional drivers were the Unispace unified model which is not dissimilar in theory to the integrated model that she supported with CBRE and Broadspectrum, and the integration of creative design: “What I also love about Unispace, is it leans back into a creative side that I really enjoy around the design piece.”
She also has a strong background in construction with her first three years out of university spent on site on a graduate program with the state government.
Effectively her role with Unispace will be to ensure the elements of strategy, design, budget, construction and delivery are aligned and constantly innovating: “The unique opportunity Unispace brings to the table is that we have an incredibly strong strategy team that works very closely with our design and construction specialists,” says Forster Mitrovski.
Bringing a pre-construction team into the early strategic phase ensures budgets are accurate to deliver the design and finishes proposed. Inflation complexities are increasingly stymying traditional models.
For Unispace, this has been countered by taking the entire supply chain, from design to delivery, in house: “We take all the risk upfront, we say, we will guarantee that the design that we’ve agreed on is the design you’re going to get, and you’re not going to receive any budget overruns. And, we’re not going to overrun the programme that we commit to, so it’s a de-risking of the traditional way that projects are delivered with multiple suppliers and handovers.”
Global innovation teams are responsible for the constantly developing strategic blueprint behind each project. A ‘Propeller’ model was pioneered last year out of the Melbourne office and reflects a response to global modelling requirements from surveying 230 large companies. That is, modelling data and predictive analytics around how organisations use their space and what they’re going to need, particularly post COVID-19.
“The Propeller model is certainly a very innovative tool that we can apply to predict utilisation and the needs of the workplace for various organisations across a number of different sectors,” says Forster Mitrovski. Unispace’s recent acquisition of Downstream, a global experiential design leader, adds another layer of innovation to the firm’s offering.
With 46 studios globally, the scope and scale of Unispace is phenomenal. From single company commercial spaces to master planning global headquarters, the portfolio is singularly impressive. So too are its accolades with awards from all the major arenas.
Courtesy of Unispace
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