A Look at London and the U.K.
Hemant Jolly (HJ), managing director of Otis, U.K., talks about why he is upbeat about the market.
EW: Which features distinguish the London and U.K. markets?
HJ: When it comes to new construction, London and the U.K. are high-end markets. There is a lot of focus on quality and high-end features and aesthetics. That clearly stands out in the U.K. and more so in London. The adoption of new technology, such as destination dispatch, is also higher than it is in some other markets. In a high-density urban market such as London, moving people efficiently via systems that implement high-end specifications is the norm. Our CompassPlusTM destination-dispatch system has been a strong seller here.
On the maintenance side, London and the U.K. are fairly large markets, because their urban history is quite long.
London is a very exciting market for us. Here, we introduce new technology related to both new construction and maintenance that will be part of our global digitization strategy that lays the groundwork for our next generation of equipment and service.
Globally, we are about 55% service and modernization, with the balance being new equipment. The ratio is similar in the U.K., although the new-equipment market has been growing much faster than maintenance over the past few years. Growth in the maintenance market is steadier and more gradual.
EW: Geographically, in which areas is Otis seeing the most activity?
HJ: London. There are almost 400 buildings taller than 20 stories either recently completed or in various stages of construction in London. The skyline is changing quite dramatically. It’s happening pretty much across the city. In terms of hotspots, especially on the commercial side, Canary Wharf is seeing a lot of activity. This is being driven by improving transportation infrastructure as more and more people come to the city. As the city becomes more accessible, tall buildings multiply. Our challenge continues to be moving people as efficiently as possible throughout those buildings.
EW: What are a couple of notable recently completed or upcoming projects?
HJ: One of the biggest projects we are working on is the Crossrail project in London awarded to us a few years back (ELEVATOR WORLD, October 2013). Here, we are providing 100 units, including some of the London Tube’s longest escalators. The first phase is expected to open around 2019. We have certainly been winning a lot of work around London. Pretty soon we will make some major announcements, particularly ones involving very large commercial buildings.
EW: How is Brexit affecting the industry and things like hiring for Otis? If it isn’t, why not?
HJ: Brexit is an evolving situation, and I’m not a political expert who can comment with authority on where it’s going to go. Since we established ourselves in the U.K. in a leadership position 33 years ago, we have kept our ear to the ground. We continue to invest in this important market, in product technology and in people, in talent.
As new buildings come into our portfolio, older ones cycle into the maintenance side, and we have to deliver here, as well. A particular focus is establishing talent centers in the U.K. that draw experts from throughout Europe to help my team deliver on complex, major projects to stay on top of the growth we’re seeing. For us, Brexit is something associated with the external environment. Elevators are a long-cycle business, and the outlook for us is very positive.
EW: What is on the drawing board for Otis in the U.K.? What is the outlook?
HJ: We are focused on taking care of current demand and investing in the future. With growth comes the need to attract future talent. Along those lines, we started our apprenticeship program in the U.K. and have hired approximately 100 employees directly through it.
I foresee steady growth in the near term. As I have said, we are focused on maintaining elevators and providing service for the life of a system, and we are digitizing our workforce, which is servicing elevators around the country. These are investments that will ultimately bring good to our customers and result in a more accessible, more efficient urban transportation system.
About Hemant Jolly
Born and raised in Delhi, India, Hemant Jolly relocated with his wife and two daughters to London in early 2016 to assume his role as managing director for Otis, U.K. and Ireland. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delhi and an MBA from the International Management Institute, both in New Delhi.
Prior to moving to the U.K., he was United Technologies Corp. (UTC) managing director for Singapore and Guam for approximately two years, based in Singapore. In this role, he was responsible for overall leadership, direction and operating performance for UTC divisions Carrier, Otis and Chubb (fire and security).
Jolly joined UTC in 1998 at Carrier India, holding positions of increasing responsibility in marketing, sales and management over the next 10 years at Carrier and Lenel Systems International, a division focused on access control and security. In 2011, he was appointed director of Marketing, Strategy & Business Development for Otis’ Pacific Asia region.
Jolly describes London as “a great multicultural melting pot of various nationalities and customers.” The biggest challenge about living there so far, he says, is adjusting from the consistently warm Singapore climate to chillier weather.
As a child, Jolly never envisioned himself in the elevator industry but is happy he is part of it now, stating, “This industry has many business lines, which continue to keep things interesting.”
He says he learns the most from interacting with people, stating:
“I take inspiration from my environment. A lot of people inspire me — my children, friends and colleagues. I really couldn’t pin down one person who has had the greatest impact on me professionally. I have had the good fortune of working with very interesting senior people at major corporations, and each one has taught me or inspired me in some way. What’s made me who I am today is like a jambalaya or curry made of various ingredients, all equally important.”