In Search of the Central Theme

As head of research and strategy at Prologis in Europe, Dirk Sosef is always thinking fast. Together with his team, Sosef supervises a wide range of research initiatives. He is constantly scanning which global developments have an impact on the property market. He describes his work as “realistically translating all those different developments into manageable chunks.”

Dirk Sosef

Understanding the dynamics of the European property markets and, more specifically, the factors influencing them, requires the ability to think big and communicate small. “The ultimate kick is to summarize huge amounts of information, sometimes up to a few hundred pages, in two clear-cut diagrams,” Sosef says. “It is my job to inform the target group in a swift and concise way about what he or she needs to know to gain a better understanding of our industry in order to make the right decisions.” 

All raw data and insights are converted into options. Sosef describes the process: “My aim is to present things in such a way that I can explain it to my audience in either 30 seconds, three minutes or 30 minutes. Creating multiple ready-made solutions for a case is important in this line of business. There is a growing need for understanding all the available data. Developments go super fast. It’s quite a challenge to put everything into perspective, but that is exactly what comes naturally to me. What is the trend, and what can we expect, short term and long term?”

Family Traits

Raised in the south of Limburg, Netherlands, interest in buildings has been a characteristic of Sosef ever since he was a child. In his youth, he was fascinated by urban development. “In my family the concept of structural space has always been a focal point,” he says with a smile. “One grandfather established a company in greenhouse farming in the Westland area and the other a restoration firm with assignments in historic buildings, such as St. Martin's Cathedral, also known as the Dom Church, in Utrecht; the Groote Museum Artis and the Hollandsche Manage in Amsterdam; and also St. John's Cathedral in Den Bosch.”

After his studies, Sosef worked for five years as head of research at the commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield. When he wanted to shift toward a more international perspective, he moved to Prologis, the worldwide leader in logistic property. That was in 2011, precisely when the market was accelerating rapidly.

From Niche to Growth Sector 

“Our industry was once a so-called niche market and often rather difficult to explain to outsiders,” Sosef elaborates. “But the rapid emergence and growth of the e-commerce market has changed a lot. When I’m at a party nowadays, I no longer need to explain exactly what it is I do. The penny quickly drops: ‘Ah, so Prologis also fixes those huge warehouses for organizations like Bol.com and Coolblue.’ Thanks to e-commerce, our line of business has become much more known among the public.”

Knowledge within the sector has also evolved. “The parties with which we cooperate understand the dynamics of this world perfectly. They, too, often ask the question behind the question. I constantly document all of my conclusions, for instance, in the form of a white paper, column or blog. Or I give a presentation at a logistic or property conference and investor events.”

Those lectures carry a lot of weight. “That is what I like about an organization like Prologis,” Sosef says. “When we say something about a trend, it’s nearly always taken seriously. Because, with our research department, we are capable of presenting big themes.”

Input sometimes comes from 50 different angles. “It is up to us to find the central theme,” says Sosef. And translate that message for ourselves and the customer. I feel privileged to be in charge of this organization. Or, as they say in the United States: ‘We make modern life possible.’ That is how it feels.”

Eindhoven DC3

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