By Praveen Prabhat Peter
Apeejay Business Centre (ABC) has just opened for business in the heart of New Delhi and I am here in Arunachal Building looking across the busy Barakhamba Road in Connaught Place! This is the third Business Centre opening under my direct charge since I joined Apeejay Real Estate as Country Head for ABC, the other two being in Kolkata and Gurugram. Within just a few days of my joining in June 2018, I was with the team opening our bigger and better ABC in Hyderabad!
It has indeed been a very hectic 15 months since I joined Apeejay. I find Apeejay to be a very progressive organisation, empowering its people and enabling them to deliver excellence. I have a free hand to drive initiatives with full encouragement from Director of ABC and Apeejay Real Estate CEO Mr Shouvik Mandal. Here’s a glimpse of Apeejay Centres and our offerings: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1182787101890348
My home is based in Gurugram. When I am not travelling, a working day starts at our Gurugram or Connaught Place office, where I usually interact with property consultants, vendors, clients and most of my day is spent over calls with rest of ABC teams across India. Before I joined Apeejay, I was working with Vatika, another major player in co-working spaces in India, but I find the work environment here is very dynamic and comes with new challenges every day. There is freedom to apply my thoughts, learnings from past and ample opportunity to take complete ownership, which makes each day at ABC a great experience.
My direct scope includes marketing strategies, both social media and print media, community building, client engagement, corporate tie-ups for brand marketing, operations management, business development as well as business expansion.
As we grow at a rapid pace, our mandate is to keep a sharp eye on operational costs. My team and I have put in place a smart & lean employee structure, a pan India one vendor approach for cost efficiencies, better operations control and a leaner cost approval process to reduce leakages and better time management that allows us to focus on growing our brand presence in the digital space. We will shortly upgrade our website which is www.apeejaybusinesscentre.com.
Co-working, as a concept, is important for a number of reasons because it reduces costs and increases flexibility for businesses, companies and working professionals – single or in groups. To have a co-working space with a genuine collaborative work environment that increases networking opportunities, breaks the monotony of conventional offices and provides an open and engaging office spaces is what excites me and ABCs deliver very well on that promise. When different companies work under one office roof and share common amenities, it opens the doors for also sharing each other’s thoughts and ideas.
Innovation and Inclusiveness is key. I am very excited about special opportunities for women that we have announced at the Apeejay Business Centre, DLF Cybercity, Gurugram launch in August 2018. It has been accepted very positively at all our locations. There is a curiosity amongst many clients regarding the concept and a good number of women have used these specials made only for them. Right now, 40% of ABC users are women which is very exciting! We want to keep pushing it higher in line with Ms Priti Paul’s vision for providing women with the work environment that they most need, aptly coined by her as “Wonder Women who Work”. Right at this moment, queries from women entrepreneurs have been low. Among women entrepreneurs or women-led start-ups which are functioning at Apeejay Business Centres, we have Adhaan Business Solutions at ABC Hyderabad and two of our clients in ABC Chennai are women led outfits, of which one of them heads the Chennai office of Teradyne. You can hear some of them speak at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=371894836739439
There are a lot of learning that can happen in inclusive spaces such as ours. We look forward to becoming truly inclusive and hope that we will have the opportunity to welcome working professionals from the LGBT community in our co-working spaces and Business Centres.
The opportunity to work at unique co-working contracts excites me a lot. As flexibility is a huge advantage of co-working, we have, at our freshly minted and redesigned ABC Hyderabad, created a built-to suit office for Radio major Big FM and have custom made their office to suit their specific requirements. We have welcomed usage of our Business Centres flexibility as ready-made office space and one of our ABCs in DLF Cyber City Gurugram is right now leased to Deloitte, one of the “Big Four” accounting organizations and the largest professional services network in the world by revenue and number of professionals. Having a 100 % occupancy at our newly launched ABC in Gurugram and over 83% occupancy at ABC Hyderabad is a matter of great pride and satisfaction and is testimony to the fact that our product and hospitality continue to be our greatest value as has been our legacy since inception.
Apeejay Business Centre is 22 years old and we are doing justice to our foundational vision as well as our business vision for 2022. In 1997, when the first Apeejay Business Centre opened, it was perhaps a pioneer in offering fully furnished, plug-n-play offices and many multinationals made ABCs their home. Co-working is a more recent nomenclature and a more apt one because the concept is of various levels & kinds of businesses being co-located in a building but working on their own projects and in their own business sectors. Co-working allows their workers to share common facilities and amenities and creates a collaborative work environment. That really is the Future of Work! ABC in terms of overall size may be smaller than many of our multinational counterparts but we have a strong differentiator i.e Apeejay’s over 50-year-old experience in the hospitality industry and our on ground Team who have a proven track record in real estate facility management because of Apeejay Real Estate’s own Commercial Property Leasing and Management business division.
Right now we are looking at opening 10 more Centres in the next three years and our business growth plan has my 100 % attention. My days are full of identifying the right micro market to expand to, analysis of competitors, identifying ideal property – location and commercials wise, creating the right design and layout, setting a competitive per seat rate, fixing the price for other offerings and marketing the new Centres. I am also supporting the business development team in leasing the available inventory which, to our delight, is giving us great results of over 80% occupancy amongst most of our centres.
Often, my thoughts veer towards hitting the gym which I miss a lot because I am constantly travelling and have to make do with an early morning light jog in the city I am in! I spend most of my leisure time with my daughter, either swimming or playing table tennis with her. For me, every day is a new day that brings with it new challenges and this is what motivates me to come to work. I maintain work-life balance by taking a break during less busy days and doing things which interest me. My wife and me have been planning a driving holiday for a while and I hope I will be able to make it happen within 2020! Fingers Crossed!
Praveen Prabhat Peter is Country Head, Operations & Business Development, Apeejay Business Centre