Kelcia Azevedo is the Head of Property for Standard Chartered Bank, covering the Americas portfolio. She is responsible for the oversight and management of all aspects of Real Estate, Workplace, Operations, Safety and Security on behalf of the Bank.
“Kelcia is a true professional with vision and experience that places her at the top of the property industry. I have worked with her for six years and have been continually inspired by her breadth of knowledge, deep commercial acumen and leadership. She is someone who can manage a property portfolio from top to bottom, end to end. Her obsession with occupier experience, rigorous management of operational and real estate costs, alongside commitment to the highest standards, leads to property outcomes fully aligned to business needs. She is also someone who people like to be around, inspiring loyalty from her team and ensuring positive and productive stakeholder relationships.” Justin Halewood, Real Estate Portfolio Manager, Europe and Americas at Standard Chartered Bank
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“People that are close to me probably know this well, but others may not be aware of my aspiration to be a jack of all trades. I am a very curious person, so I often find myself deep into activities that are certainly not my expertise, such as putting furniture together, changing door locks, doing detailed crafts for birthday parties, changing car engine filters, etc. And I must say… those types of activities are relaxing to me! I really enjoy trying to figure things out and there is nothing better than the sense of accomplishment when the job is done. I don’t think I will ever change from being this way and will continue being curious as I age. Dorothy Parker once wrote that ‘the only cure for boredom is curiosity, there is no cure for curiosity.’ With three small kids, I am certainly not bored, though!”
How did you get into the Facilities/Real Estate field?
“I was working for the Bank as Head of Global Sourcing EA for almost five years when the opportunity to join the Property team came up. I was ready for a new challenge and I believed with my background, skills, and experience I could make a difference to the team. The transformation process the function was undergoing at that time in terms of being a true strategic partner to the business, bringing innovation and looking into new ways of working and it was quite appealing. I discussed the potential move with a couple of my senior managers at that time, who were extremely supportive. And I guess the rest is history! I have been blessed to work with very smart people who have contributed to my professional development throughout the years. I have also had the opportunity to build relationships with amazing people in the real estate industry. It has certainly been an amazing ride.”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“We had to relocate a team in Latin America, on a market where we don’t have local property resources presence. The relocation was completely unexpected, and we found ourselves with an extremely tight deadline to secure to deliver a new office space while ensuring no disruption or risks to local business. Added to this was the fact that we were transitioning the occupiers from a traditional office space to a flexible working tailored environment. Thanks to the partnerships we have in place, along with the consistent communication with the local management team, the project was very successful. The team is now based on a modern space, with enhanced choice of amenities and fantastic views. Better yet, the transition to the new ways of working was seamless, granting the new workplace great Leesman index scores. Another added plus is that my Spanish definitely got much better after this project!”
What is your greatest success story?
“I am going to bring this to a personal level, if I may. I immigrated to the United States from Brazil back in 2000. When I arrived here, I had to reset my career expectations since my Law degree and at that time poor English were not enough to get me the job that I needed right away. I really had to push myself outside of my comfort zone and use my skills to build a new career path here. It was challenging, sometimes scary, but I was surrounded with people that mentored and supported me. I am very thankful to all those fantastic individuals that contributed to what I am today. It has been a very rewarding experience!”
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“The speed of how things are changing is certainly a challenge across all industries. Think technology, speed of delivery, variety of products and choices. Looking at real estate/workplace as a weapon in the war for talent, we need to be constantly evolving to continue attracting and retaining talent while also driving superior experience and productivity for our businesses. So being adaptable, ensuring you work closely with your business to build a fit for the future function, and consistently being the trusted partner with innovative solutions that will deliver value to the business is key in facing this ongoing challenge.”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s?
“Be curious, trust yourself and your skills. Lead by example! Don’t ever be afraid of going outside of your comfort zone. Be brave, be the change. Raise your hands to challenges, as you will learn a lot from the experience and doors may open as a result. Be self-aware and always willing to receive feedback, no matter how difficult listening to constructive criticism can be at times. And make sure you have a good support system behind you. Oprah Winfrey once said ‘make sure to surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher.’ I couldn’t agree more with that statement.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary