Big Boss Energy: Hari V. Krishnan, CEO and Managing Director, PropertyGuru

by Portfolio Magazine
Photo courtesy of PropertyGuru
15 Feb 2024

What are the new rules of business that today’s generation of business leaders follow? In this month’s edition of PORTFOLIO, big bosses from various industries like technology, F&B, and hospitality dish leadership advise and reveal how they walk the talk.

What changes and trends are you anticipating in your industry for 2024? What kind of preparations are you making for it?
The world around us is changing in myriad ways. Ranging from dynamic macroeconomic conditions and rapid technological innovations to social shifts in our communities and geopolitical tensions, we are facing a complex reality that demands businesses to be more nimble and agile.

Consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable and eco-friendly living solutions like energy-efficient homes and green spaces. As property developers navigate the market and cater to these needs, PropertyGuru is investing in technology and data to enhance our Market Insights and Intelligence capabilities that can guide our customers with actionable insights to make informed decisions. For instance, we have created a risk evaluation tool that can assess flood risk in various cities of Malaysia and guide urban planners and developers to evaluate environmental risks alongside consumer housing demand.

In a study conducted by EY, it was found that an overwhelming number of consumers in Asia (82%) hold companies responsible and transparent for their environmental impact and 28% are willing to pay more in support of sustainable goods and services. For property seekers in Singapore, we provide a Green Score along with each listing – a sustainability rating that empowers property seekers with insights to prioritize sustainably-planned housing when they are looking to rent or purchase.

Like in every other industry, continued integration of technology in real estate is front and center. Central to our strategy is the use of Generative AI and machine learning, which are poised to have an outsized impact on consumer facing technologies and for businesses. For instance, we use Gen AI to help our customers (agents) generate their listing descriptions. Another feature we launched, called ‘GuruPicks’, is a personalized feed of property listings based on machine learning algorithms.

Our ability to continue to enhance and elevate the experience of everyone in the property journey process can only happen with our continued investment. For this to take place, we have built a financially sustainable business and have remained operationally profitable since 2018. We continue to invest prudently while being ready for an upturn in 2024 in some of our key markets, especially Vietnam.

(Related: Big Boss Energy - Simon Kim, CEO, Gracious Hospitality Management and Founder of COTE Korean Steakhouse)

Based on personal experience, what makes a good leader in today’s context? What kind of skills are essential to be able to lead a team now?
In today’s ever-changing economic and social environment, the most important skill a leader can have is curiosity, and this translates to an eagerness to learn. Curiosity leads to an open mind, which positions the leader to be more flexible. This agility is what helps navigate uncertainties and dynamic situations and possibly turn every challenge into an opportunity.

My mantra for being a good leader is simple – set your ego aside, be more curious to learn from those around you, and be flexible.

What are the rules of business that you abide by? As a leader, what kind of rules do you set for yourself and your team?
I am driven by values. For me, core values remain unchanged. They form the foundation of how we conduct business, and all our Gurus subscribe to these core values. They have anchored us over the many phases of growth as a company. Values, such as “We own it and deliver it”, “We push beyond good”, and “We create what’s next”, reinforce our commitment to increasing the value we create for our customers and communities. We are a technology company, and these values inspire us to consistently innovate. As for values that are more employee engagement-driven, “We respect and care for each other” and “We have fun and celebrate success”, they are reminders to value coworkers and to build a thriving work environment.

(Related: Hegen Founder, Yvon Bock, aims to change the lives of mothers around the world)

Do you have a mentor? If so, what did you learn from them that has proven beneficial in your professional journey?
I believe in learning from different people, which includes my team, so I do not have one mentor per se. For instance, when I was younger, I learnt the value of time management from those around me – they taught me how to be present and responsive. From another mentor, I learnt how to be an inspiring storyteller and how to communicate, connect with, and inspire people. A valuable lesson I picked up along the way in my journey has been ‘systems thinking’ – being able to connect the different elements in my company to the environment we’re in to unlock hidden potential.

As we move into the future and navigate constantly shifting trends and mindsets, what is the best way to keep up and stay informed?
To be well informed, I believe in having many touchpoints that can provide objective pieces of insights, devoid of bias. This network for me includes a mix of trusted allies and media sources that I have grown to trust over time.

I find it crucial to educate myself from a variety of views, even those that I may not agree with, and most importantly, to listen rather than talk. When we listen more consciously, we can talk to each other (not at each other) and break out of echo chambers, opening ourselves to understanding different motivations and agendas.

I’m heading into 2024 with the powerful realization that my ability to inspire and connect with others comes from being able to listen. Hence, a big mission I have for this year is to commit to my strengths as a storyteller, and to invest time in listening more.