A new wind for diversity and inclusion will blow on EPRA

After three years as an EPRA Board member, Méka Brunel, Gecina CEO, is now taking the reins of the EPRA Chairmanship. Her ambitions of a more inclusive sector will not fall behind the urge to tackle the hurdles now shaking the real estate industry.

Méka Brunel

Méka Brunel is a business leader in the real estate industry. She is an ETP engineer and FRICS and has an Executive MBA from HEC. From 1996, she held a range of management positions at Simco, which later merged with Gecina. In 2006, she became Chief Executive Officer of Eurosic, before joining Ivanhoé Cambridge in 2009 as Executive President Europe. She has been a Director at Gecina since 2014 and was appointed as its Chief Executive Officer in January 2017. Fully involved in both community life and industry associations, particularly as Honorary President of the HQE-France GBC association, Vice-Chairwoman of the Palladio Foundation, Chair & Director of EPRA, Director of FSIF, Méka Brunel was appointed as a Director of Hammerson plc in November 2019. She was also President of the Greater Paris Metropolitan Authority’s Development Board from October 2017 to April 2021. Méka Brunel has been honored with the title of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. Lastly, Méka Brunel was named Professional of the Year in the 2013 and 2018 Pierres d’Or awards.

How do you see the role of EPRA Chairwoman?
It is an honour to succeed Rolf Buch as Chairman of the EPRA. Rolf has done an incredible job. I would like to warmly thank all the board members for their confidence. A Chairwoman must create dynamics and set priorities for the coming period. I will gladly put my energy and experience at the service of the EPRA members with the help of my colleagues of the Board. Thanks to the EPRA team under the leadership of Dominique Moerenhout, I know that EPRA is in good hands and I will continue to learn a lot from them as well as from the members.
What do you expect your priorities for EPRA to be in this position?
I wish to foster exchanges and cooperation between our current and future members, listed companies and investors, to support the transformation of our sector and pave the way towards the harmonisation of our practices and standards at a European level.
We need to share our best practices with each other to respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis and the major trends that are shaking up our industry: the metropolitanisation and appeal for centrality and mixed-use areas; and the deep transformation of our economies through the digital revolution and the climate emergency.
Uniquely for an EPRA Chair, you come from an investor background, given your time at Ivanhoe Cambridge. What different aspects do you think your experience on the buy-side might bring to your leadership of EPRA?
EPRA is a great platform for promoting the transparency of information and fluidity of exchanges between listed real estate companies and investors. Understanding the expectations of the investor community is always appreciated when you are running an operational company and vice versa. Mutual understanding is crucial for the times ahead with all the headwinds we will face.
You are the first woman Chair of EPRA and were instrumental a few years back in launching diversity initiatives. How do you think you can help improve diversity across the industry during your time as EPRA Chair?
EPRA should be a driving force for improving diversity and inclusion. It is something I want to embody. The diversity of profiles is a formidable lever for fostering innovation and the global challenges we face. We cannot cut ourselves off from half of humanity to rethink our production models. The issue of gender diversity is part of the more global challenge of the transformation of our organisations, as well as global diversity (skin colour, origin, culture, disabilities, …). This will give us a chance to create unity through diversity.
What would you like to see changed in the European listed market, if possible, during your tenure as Chairwoman?
Our industry has a historic opportunity to accelerate its environmental transformation. The health crisis we are experiencing in 2020 is global, as is the environmental challenge. It sounds like a warning in the face of the coming climate crisis.
Employees, who are also consumers, are becoming uncompromising on climate issues. Soon, it will be very difficult to lease an office building that is not virtuous and continuously improving on these issues. This is more than ever a transformation we have to work on and accelerate together. I need to say though that EPRA has been working hard on that side for years. Maybe what we lack is a greater sharing of rules in our countries, enabling us to enforce our capacities in these matters and create more human inclusiveness.