This month’s FM spotlight is Jonathan Coun, Associate Director CRE at one of the "big four" global advertising holding companies - Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (IPG). Jonathan is a member of both IFMA and CoreNet.
“Jon has been with Interpublic for nine years and has been an invaluable part of our department’s contribution to IPG’s improved results. He brings a wealth of real estate knowledge to the group and has been successful in concluding a number of high-profile transactions both in North America and internationally.” - Michael Liscio III, Vice President Global Real Estate- Interpublic Group
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“I am a foodie. When I was in Korea, I was with one of my coworkers from the US and we went for a traditional Korean meal. We sat down and our waitress could not speak English and we could not speak Korean. The menu turned out to be the Korean version of a small plates tasting menu, so we ordered the ‘medium’ selection and beer, and didn't know what was coming out and when it would end. It was a great experience.”
How did you get into the Facilities field?
“I received my Engineering degree from Rutgers. I was a summer intern for two summers in Prudential’s facilities department and my first job was as Supervising Engineer at Prudential’s Corporate Headquarters in Newark. So I literally started my career in the boiler room.”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“When I was with Prudential, I oversaw the development of a 450K rsf building at one of Prudential’s corporate campuses. I also managed the sale leaseback of the site, while the building was under construction. At IPG, I facilitated a number of city consolidations projects. Most notably six businesses to a single 100K rsf location in Shanghai and three businesses in four buildings to a 300+K rsf lease in the Hancock building in Chicago.”
What is your greatest success story?
“I am a big believer in team effort; which was demonstrated when IPG’s CRE group worked with our BU’s and reduced our space metric on a global level by 55RSF/FTE over the past six years. With an employee base of 48K, this is annual cost avoidance of approximately $113M which has helped contribute to IPG’s improved margins."
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“I would have to say managing projects and establishing a working relationship and trust with my BU partners remotely. For my first seven years at IPG, I was responsible for working with our groups outside of the US, I am now responsible for our North America portfolio. It takes time, some late nights and clear understanding of roles and responsibilities to successfully manage projects overseas while based in NYC.”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s?
“You need to take a calculated chance every now and then, when managing your career. I am where I am now because I took a chance at being an ‘internet’ guy in 2000 during the first dot.com boom. This did not work out but it was a great learning experience and it led me to the next job that put me in the position where I am today.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary.