Sapna Srivastava began the conversation with her observation that the current real estate industry is seeing a rise in number of young professional from other industries entering in real estate, which till very recently was not one of the most favourable sectors for many. She said, “Having started from the construction industry and finance sector respectively, both Anshul Singhal and Ashwinder Singh have not only been successful in their own real estate journeys, but have also opened new avenues for the young leaders foraying in this sector.”
Anshul Singhal sharing his reasons for transitioning to real estate from a construction industry stated, “For me, it was a natural transition. Luckily, I was always in industrial construction. At JSW Severfield Structures Ltd, we made buildings in a factory and it was really amazing to see these massive buildings come to life. I saw them as a source of employment opportunities and growth of Indian economy. I wanted to do more than this, and saw real estate as a sector that also builds communities apart from generating employment and revenues. Today when we build warehouses, which are mostly in the city peripheral areas, we not only help bring in infrastructure in that area but, also create jobs around it and basically help uplift the communities living in these backward areas. In the construction space, I was a clicker contractor delivering to the client on time. As a developer, I am creating spaces and communities. So it has been a moving up the pecking order from a contractor to a developer which is also very satisfying. The minimum project we do is 40- 50 acres, and 100 acres in two of our projects now. So each of these projects create anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 jobs, directly or indirectly within our industrial parks and outside. The ability of influencing the economy and people’s lives makes life a little more worth living, makes the struggle worth pursuing.”
Ashwinder R Singh recounting his journey shared, “It has been a very interesting journey for me. In fact, my competitive edge was myself being an outsider, a finance person working with Citibank for 12 years, and then government of Singapore for four years, Deutsche Bank, and then four years in mortgage business with Bajaj Housing Finance. These experiences gave me the inherent understanding of managing finance, experience of funding, sales and distribution and marketing. If you have all these expertise, then you can have a 360 degree view of the business. You what the P&L impact is, how does revenue operate and what is the difference between revenue and profitability? Also, in case of start-ups, most of them do well when they look at revenue, but in terms of profitability they face challenges. Being the first CEO of Anarock, gave me a valuable experience of building the most successful real estate start-ups in India. So all of this has come together very well for me in helping me take the right decisions and building a great team and growing a profitable franchise. As a developer, my profession is now much more interesting and fulfilling because I can take holistic decisions.”
THE NEW INTIATIVES
Sapna Srivastava talking about taking new initiatives that can be termed as the ‘first’ in the industry said, “Creating something new, from ground up, means having a vision and a clear picture of what’s missing and what needs to be done to add value to the overall industry. While, Anshul Singhal launched India’s first AIF in warehousing, Ashwinder R Singh is a developer who has written books on real estate for the common man.”
Spilling beans on the factors that motivated him to launch AIF in warehousing, Anshul Singhal stated, “As Embassy Industrial Parks' CEO, I realized that $6 billion foreign investments in Indian warehouses excluded domestic funds; this motivated me to create a local fund, overcoming challenges and dismissing sceptics”.
Revealing the factors that led to his decision to become a writer, Ashwinder R Singh shared, “At JLL Residential, I considered writing a book on home buying, because there is no credible reference book from the industry professional for home buyers, to make an informed decision. Thus, I authored "A to Z of Residential Real Estate," a basic guide to home buying and the next book "Master Residential Real Estate," is an enriched addition to it.”
THE POSITIVE TRANSFORMATIONS
Discussing the transformations in the warehousing sector that he observed over the years, Anshul Singhal articulated, “Warehousing has evolved significantly since 2013- 14, transitioning from small 1 lakh square feet facilities to expansive units between two to eight lakh square feet. Contemporary warehouses emphasize automation, enhanced lighting, health and safety measures, superior flooring, and advanced technology. The warehousing industry's growth, of around $50 billion, is due to e-commerce, quick commerce, and mixed commerce expansion. The pandemic increased online shopping and retail inventory needs. India's industrialization, GST implementation, regulatory policies, and investment opportunities, customer habits and government support have spurred warehousing sector growth.”
Ashwinder R Singh added, “RERA has been the game changer for real estate. The recent impact has been the Delhi-NCR seeing least inventories, due to the confidence boost among the customers and the industry becoming more regulated and transparent that has led to more sales. In Bengaluru, I've seen a rise in rental yields and ever growing demand has increased for larger living spaces. The high level of compliances by developers has also led to profitability for them. Residential sector shows potential and I believe residential investments too will recover.”
Sharing about a pivotal choice in their careers, Anshul Singhal said, “In hindsight, effective measures are regarded as sound decisions, while failures are considered poor choices. Prior to expanding, we researched to hire the right set of team and skilled professionals and partnered with top consultants. I believe in hiring people smarter than oneself, and then getting out of their way, because the minute you don't get out of their way, then you basically are coming in your own way.”
Ashwinder R Singh stated, “In the early stages, I sought professionals from hospitality, banking, financial services, and insurance sectors. This decision helped bring a fresh perspective. By implementing processes and focusing on input control, we were able to create a more organized firm with talented individuals who were not burdened by negative preconceptions from the real estate industry. This approach ultimately proved to be beneficial”.
Concurring to both the experts, Sapna Srivastava added, “It's always beneficial to introduce new viewpoints and empower the team so they can perform to the highest level of their capabilities. Indeed, as Anshul and Ashwinder expressed, empowerment remains a significant issue in this industry.”
In reference to the near future, Anshul Singhal expressed, “My primary goal is to transition the company towards independent operation without my daily involvement. The objective is to promptly achieve this and establish the company as a self-sufficient institution with a strong senior leadership team. This will enable me to focus on a more strategic role, moving away from day-to-day responsibilities.
Ashwinder R Singh shared, “My primary short-term strategic goal for Bhartiya City, a 175-acre integrated township, is to consistently sell and construct 5 million square feet within the next two years. This includes completing 1 million square feet of commercial space, 2 million square feet of residential units, and a hospital. The objective is to maintain a disciplined P&L with a 20-25% EBITDA on an ongoing basis while ensuring efficient land acquisition, business development, sales, and construction processes”.
For a developer that is compliant, customer-centric and follows all the regulations, residential reals estate business has become attractive. The margins are higher because the capital values are going up. - Ashwinder R Singh
If you believe in the India story, then you believe in the warehousing story. The warehousing AIF has democratized the segment. One does not have to own a warehouse, but can invest in the fund and own a share of it to get lucrative returns. - Anshul Singhal
Real estate is seeing a steady rise in number of young professional from other industries entering in real estate, which till very recently was not one of the most favorable professional sectors for many. - Sapna Srivastava
I am a very determined person. I have an unwavering determination to keep my commitments to all the stakeholders, irrespective of a million obstacles on the way. - Anshul Singhal
I consider myself to be an avid learner, always seeking knowledge. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. I am a student for life. - Ashwinder R Singh
This is the right time to be part of the Indian real estate growth story. With many new avenues and asset classes emerging, we can expect to see some pioneering innovations in this sector. - Sapna Srivastava