Yves Diacon

MAS in Real Estate Management

Yves Diacon

“It makes a huge difference whether the owners are actively involved in a company or just an employee is the managing director.”

Yves Diacon, our Head of Real Estate Development and Transactions Centre-West and Centre-East, has been working for HRS for the past nine years. In an interview, he tells us what the best thing about his job is and what role HRS CEO Martin Kull plays in his working life.

How did you first start working in the real-estate industry?
I’m originally from the commercial sector. Thanks to my father, I was involved in real estate early on in my career, albeit not in construction. That’s probably why I am now involved in development and planning at HRS rather than implementation. Before coming to HRS, I studied real-estate management at St. Gallen University of Applied Sciences and later construction economics in Lucerne in parallel to my work.

When did you start at HRS?
Just over nine years ago. At the time, Martin Kull was the CEO and joint head of the Development department. I was hired to support him with this. This collaboration with him was very close and I learnt a great deal. In the end, I think it taught me more than any continuing training could have.

What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is that it is extremely varied. As the overall project manager, I am responsible for ensuring that a project works from a legal, environmental and economic perspective. Of course it must always satisfy the developer’s expectations and eventually be accepted on the market.
The nicest thing about this is that I’m in contact with so many different people for each project. There are the people in the immediate vicinity, politicians, the media, all the planners, etc.

That sounds like a job for a complete all-rounder with management skills.
Definitely. You have to be a good listener and be able to network well. You also need certain managerial skills. But the most important thing is that you consider projects holistically, bring together everyone involved and interest them in projects, all with the aim of ensuring the project meets everyone’s expectations.

HRS is considered one of the driving forces in the real-estate industry in Switzerland. Why do you think HRS manages to keep being innovative?
We have very short decision-making pathways at HRS. That makes us a very dynamic business. For me, that’s a basic condition in order to be innovative. It makes a huge difference whether the owners are actively involved in a company or just an employee is the managing director. At HRS, you can sense that the owners are always there to address their employees’ concerns. I think that this very agile organisation is what enables us to be innovative over and over again, whether in project planning itself or the development of real-estate strategies. One prime example of this in my view is the Ensemble project in Zurich. After all the failed projects to build a new football stadium, nobody would have dreamt that a stadium project could get majority backing anymore. And yet the former Hardturm site has become a new quarter, complete with association buildings, two high-rise apartment blocks and a real football stadium.

Everyone needs inspiration in their career. What inspires you?

Many things inspire me. On the one hand, it is people like Martin Kulll and Rebecca Kull, who inspire me anew every single day. Especially the close cooperation with Martin Kull, whose great dedication and passion brings projects to life, has had a significant impact on my professional career. On the other hand, it is the projects. If you get an opportunity to work on so many projects that contribute to our society, that’s both an enormous responsibility and pure inspiration. After all, your work is doing nothing less than helping to shape the image of Switzerland.

What would you advise someone thinking about applying to work at HRS?
What always helped me is what the Swiss call “nöd uf d Schnurre sitze,” namely speaking your mind. At HRS, we are looking for people who have their own opinions, can defend these opinions and can therefore provide new impetus. But having your own opinion isn’t enough. You must also always be open to the ideas of your fellow team-members. This is the only way you can create something good; something everyone can be proud of at the end of the day.

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