NEW YORK CITY-In taking the newly created position of CEO ofclient solutions at Cushman & Wakefield, John Santora builds ona few aspects of his prior experience. First is a number of yearsas a honcho: he’s served as global COO and, more recently, aspresident and CEO for the firm’s Americas region. Secondly, theposition marks a return to familiar territory: before becomingglobal COO, Santora was head of C&W’s asset services group, nowa part of the client solutions unit. Third is the threedecades-plus he’s been with the firm.

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“As I look at my new role, I’ve had the opportunity to be theglobal COO and to understand markets around the world, how ourclients operate and how our business operates,” Santora tellsGlobeSt.com. “I’ve built strong relationships with top people atFortune 1000 firms around the world. It’s thoserelationships that I want to be able to leverage for ourcompany.”

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Added to which, Santora says his tenure with the asset servicesgroup “gives me the ability to bring the resources to bear and therelationships I have, both internally and externally, to this newrole.” That new position will also allow him to capitalize on theopportunities he’s had to learn about markets worldwide, “beingable to bring best practices and the newest solutions to thetable.”

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In his new capacity, Santora will oversee C&W’s largestoperating unit. It serves corporate occupiers and institutionalinvestors, employs more than 7,000 globally and manages about 600million square feet of commercial space. Meanwhile, he’ll continueserving as Americas head until a successor is identified.

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GlobeSt.com: What does the creation of a CEOposition mean in terms of expectations for the client solutionsgroup, and how do you see your role?

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Santora: My new role is really to leadthis global group and take it to the next level of performance,integration and service delivery. This is an important part of oureveryday business and our core competencies. Under the newstructure, it has what it deserves: a seat at the table. I am aboard member and I’ll be reporting directly to the CEO, so I’ll beable to direct and bring all the resources needed to deliver on aglobal basis.

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I look at where we stand today: a dominant player in somemarkets, an established player in others and emerging in someothers. My goal over the next three to five years is to expand onthat.

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GlobeSt.com: The client solutions group has two coreconstituencies: space occupiers and institutional investors. Dothey have overlapping interest and priorities?

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Santora: Yes, and there are multiplesides to this. With some of our clients, and I’ll use MetLife as anexample, we manage all of their facilities and then also asignificant portion of their investment portfolio. So on the clientside, we do both. On the actual delivery of services, there aresome significant differences, but understanding both sides of thatequation—what it takes for a tenant or an occupant to deliver theirservices in an efficient manner—impacts how you operate the spaceand the need to provide an environment for them.

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Whether you’re working for an investor or a user, you have tounderstand what the ultimate goal of the space is. When you’reworking for an investor, it’s all about performance and return oninvestment; when you’re working for a corporation, it’s all abouthow to make that environment as efficient and effective as possibleto improve their bottom line.

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GlobeSt.com: Do corporate users have a clearer ideaof their space requirements than they did in the fall of2008?

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Santora: I don’t know that anybody hasa clearer picture now than they did 18 months ago. Those companiesthat are still around are making longer-term decisions, but this isan interesting economy for all of us. As far as real estatedecisions are concerned, the one thing that’s certain is thatleases have a start and an end date, and you have to deal withthat. Based on the information you have at the time, you makedecisions on whether you stay, move or build new headquarters.

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What we do know is that the way we do business is going to bedifferent five years from now and 10 years from now. As I look atthe group and where we’re going, technology will play a bigger rolein what we do and what our clients do. We’re going to look atdifferent energy sources for a client, we’re going to be looking atputting up solar panels in the parking lots for certain parts ofthe country because we’re doing to have to be powering up electriccars. Ten years from now, are we going to be dealing with mega-datacenters or computing in the clouds? These are all things you haveto consider when looking out a few years.

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GlobeSt.com: Are client expectations evolving withregard to what they expect from their serviceproviders?

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Santora: Without question. You have tobe a technology leader, and we are. We have a strong sustainabilityplatform, and that’s at the top of everybody’s list ofrequirements. But it’s all about partnering with your client andmoving forward together.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.