Christian Ulbrich's observations about ESG show an awareness and commitment to making the world a better place. JLL

JLL CEO Christian Ulbrich opens his interview with a very provocative observation about the difference between global companies and national governments: "Global companies have the ability to see best practice wherever best practice is being delivered. And then what you do is, you are trying to replicate that in other places all across your footprint."

Christian's observations about ESG show an awareness and commitment to making the world a better place. "I think this hanging in there in spite of the push-back which we saw in the early years, is something which we did right at JLL. And it's probably again going back to the long tradition of our organization that we are willing to invest into something even if the payback comes many, many years later."

With roots that go back to 1760, global real estate services company JLL has a long track record of exceptional service. "Even if you're not interested in history, a lot of things happened in that time, and this company was always under leadership that was able to steer the company through those challenging times," he says. And with a footprint of 5 billion square feet of commercial space under its management serving clients in more than 80 countries, JLL has tremendous opportunity that its leadership takes very much to heart. Says Christian, "When I took office in my current role -– I joined the company in 2005 and I became CEO and president in 2016 –- it was very obvious to me that I would only lead this company for a relatively short period in comparison to the history of the company. And so my task had to be that I'd take that company from my predecessor –- who did a marvelous job –- and try to make it a little bit better and try to improve the state of the world a little bit more before I hand it on to my successor."

Investing in people and technology is how JLL makes that happen. "The main thing we have is smart people ... with the long tradition of JLL we had a lot of opportunity to build a culture within our organization which people find attractive and which we are preserving." And then educating clients about their choices. "If you want to prove the point you need data, and in order to get data you need to have technology. And we implement a lot of technology into buildings to measure pretty much everything which you want to measure in a building."

Speaking further about technology, Christian sees technology as helping advance "that whole ESG topic," and shares his excitement with the JLL Foundation, which provides startup funding as a loan "to minority entrepreneurs who have an idea around sustainability" as "we are really trying to being the whole circle of ESG as the core pillar of our JLL Foundation."

Christian's central focus is making the world a better place, and how that plays out in commercial buildings is what makes this an eye-opening conversation. Watch the video below to catch it all.