Sustainability tops the agenda of Beverley Kilbride as she lands the chief operational role in Europe at the US investment management group.
In the 17 years since joining LaSalle, Beverley Kilbride has navigated through several roles and tasks across the group’s asset management, acquisitions and fund management teams. Her new job as COO Europe is about putting together all those competencies to drive LaSalle’s investment performance while accelerating the transition towards a net zero portfolio. Based in the firm’s Paris office, the property professional outlines her goals and ambitions to PropertyEU in her new role, while admitting she has come to realize that ‘there are only 24 hours in a day’.
PEU: What do you see as the main priorities in your new role as COO Europe at LaSalle?
Beverley Kilbride: Let me first explain what this title entails in LaSalle. I am responsible for two separate groups of property specialists. One is the operations team that is internal facing, looking at for example innovation and our digital infrastructure. The other is more external facing, comprising the sustainability team, the asset management team and the capital markets team (the professionals responsible for our relationship with lenders).
As the new COO for Europe, I am also very much present in the market, and part of my job is pulling together our European operations. We used to have a UK and a continental European team, however more recently, we decided to create an infrastructure that would foster greater collaboration, and today the staff in Munich, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid and London are all part of the same team. We aim for them to work in the same manner, obviously remaining sensitive to the different market specifics, but we strive to have the same infrastructure and an equal flow of information.
The reason why we approach the operations in this manner is because we recognize that Europe is considered as one large market by most of our clients, be it comingled funds or a custom account. Of course, local culture is important - no one city in Europe is alike - but our clients are expecting the same approach across Europe.
There are also priorities in the way we are doing things, with sustainability at the top of the list. We are working to implement our sustainability strategy across the whole of Europe. We also work to continue to identify occupier trends in the market, creating or adapting our properties to make sure that they are future proofed.
PEU: Your role focuses on integrating and implementing strategic operational efficiencies, what does this specifically mean?
Beverley Kilbride: It means making sure we have the ability to quickly respond to market changes. This is the design of our organization – and I am responsible for it. We need to make sure the teams are the best equipped to buy and manage assets that respond to the market’s needs.
PEU: With your remit comprising sustainability, asset management, operations, digital projects and capital markets, can you detail what you will be focusing on and looking to accomplish in these specific areas?
Beverley Kilbride: Our sustainability objectives are at the heart of our asset management initiatives. I’m also thrilled to say that sustainability is on the agenda of both occupiers and investors. However, we generally find that we are more ambitious than our tenants in our sustainability plan. We often bring them on the journey with us and convince them that the planned measures are worth doing for both of us. If they are not in agreement with us, or if they want to leave, this gives us much more freedom to make changes to the assets.
We hear that Europe is one step ahead, compared to elsewhere around the world, but the goalposts are always changing. Our objective however remains the same – to implement innovative, practical changes in our asset day-to-day management so that our efforts have a tangible impact on our portfolio.
We are a founding signatory to the BBP Climate Change Commitment, which commits us to becoming a Net Zero Carbon business by 2050. We are also carrying out a net zero carbon audit programme for all our assets. Phase I of this programme is close to completion and now we are rolling up our sleeves to implement informed changes to our properties. The audit programme will review all our assets and come up with a net zero target journey for each property. We are now moving from this initial data collection and assessment, to interpretation of the results and making real changes.
While carrying out the audit programme for our existing portfolio, we have also been leading the charge for industry-pioneering net zero carbon projects such as One Exchange Square in London and TRI in Munich.
PEU: Speaking about capital markets, how has the market changed in the recent past? How is LaSalle trying to reflect these changes through its offering?
Beverley Kilbride: These are interesting times. From a macroeconomic level, the expectations are that there will be a price correction. It is now a question of deciding where this correction will create opportunities and which strategies will protect value.
This storm could be very different from the global financial crisis because I believe there is more transparency about the depth of the market, who is bidding, how much leverage there is – in general, the market in Europe is much more transparent today than even a few years ago. That may mean that the market can correct more quickly.
In terms of our investment convictions, LaSalle is active not only in every asset type but also in every segment of risk, so we are looking at the market through a wide lens. We currently have an active core-plus fund aimed at capturing value. Our debt and value-add teams are also ready to jump on investment opportunities.
PEU: You are becoming chair of LaSalle’s European Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) operating committee. What are your plans for this?
Beverley Kilbride: What I’ve been doing for the past 20 years at LaSalle is working my way through different teams. Originally I didn’t have a property background, and what LaSalle has been able to offer me is the possibility to grow, working my way around different subjects and specialties. Senior leaders have given me their confidence and trust, confidence that didn’t necessarily reflect my experience, but they saw my determination and my drive and gave me a chance. So the concept of equity is very close to my heart. I like my team members to have tangible goals and I make sure that they have every opportunity to succeed.
Becoming chair of LaSalle’s European Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) operating committee means that I can work with a fabulous group of professionals to raise the bar and help with this journey. This is an area where we are never going to be able to do enough.
Beverley Kilbride is Chief Operating Officer for Europe, a position she assumed in December 2022. In this role, she is responsible for leading operations across LaSalle’s unified European team, including sustainability, asset management, operations, digital projects and capital markets. Kilbride focuses on integrating and implementing strategic operational efficiencies across all European investments, assets and funds, reflecting LaSalle’s integrated approach globally.
During her tenure at LaSalle, Kilbride has worked across asset management, acquisitions and fund management. Based in our Paris office, she spearheaded LaSalle’s return to the Dutch market in 2013 and gained hands-on asset management and investment experience overseeing a selection of strategic value-add assets across Europe. After assuming the role of head of Transactions and Asset Management for Europe in July 2021, she oversaw and managed the acquisitions and asset management teams. In this time, Kilbride established LaSalle’s European Asset Management Board and specialist European Development and Repurposing team.
Beverley is a member of the RICS, the Chair of the LaSalle Europe DEI Operating Committee and head of LaSalle’s French regulated business.