Ann Sperling can sum up her more than 30-year career in the commercial real estate industry fairly succinctly. She has done everything from soup to nuts — brokerage, asset management, development and construction, investment and corporate outsourcing.
That expansive resume is exactly what is needed for her role as chief operating officer of the Americas at Jones Lang LaSalle. Sperling assumed the management role at Jones Lang LaSalle in November 2009 during the height of the commercial real estate recession.
Since then, she has had a hand in a wide variety of key operational issues that resonate across the Americas business unit, which encompasses nearly 13,000 employees in seven countries.
Top priorities include everything from implementing the company's broad strategic plan to maintaining operational excellence and consistency in the client services the firm delivers globally.
“My role is to connect the dots between the different businesses and different geographies,” says Sperling.
One of her big tasks is to implement simpler and nimbler ways of doing business. That initiative touches every part of the business, ranging from staffing and technology to managing how employees communicate with each other.
“If you identify that as a credo and infuse that as part of your culture, you really can have great impact,” says Sperling.
That impact is clearly visible in a company that is generating positive results amid a commercial real estate market that remains fraught with challenges on multiple fronts. Jones Lang LaSalle saw its global revenues rise 18% in 2010.
The firm also was recognized as the best overall provider of corporate real estate services for the fourth consecutive year by the Watkins 2011 Survey of Corporate Real Estate Service Providers, a group that evaluates the 23 largest commercial real estate service firms.
Sperling credits the firm's communication strategy with employees as being an important part of its success. “There is a desire to communicate with clarity about what direction we are going, and for everyone to be pointed in the same direction at the same time.”