Romanian-born asset manager Vlad Valcea was Atterbury Europe’s first non-South African team member and as such has a very unique take on what will contribute to the company’s success in Europe. He shares his insights.

You had your first summer holiday in South Africa recently. Tell us more about the trip – your highlights, and your impressions of the country?
We travelled around Cape Town, Stellenbosch and the Garden Route and it was amazing. I was really impressed with the beautiful coastline of green mountain ranges and white sandy beaches. I definitely plan to return!

Your job requires regular travel between three countries – and if you forget your passport you’ll miss your meeting. How did you adapt the typical 9 to 5 schedule to accommodate this? What is the hardest part of this?
Actually, it’s four countries if you include the Netherlands, plus an occasional flight layover somewhere else along the way! In my case, the 9 to 6 concept can apply if I’m back “at the base” in the Leiden headquarters. Otherwise, while travelling I spend my time with the local teams inside and outside the office. I adapted to this schedule by keeping flexible and looking at the positives of all the different cities where our properties are.

What do you never travel without, aside from your laptop and chargers?
Earphones, toothbrush and clean shirts, at the very least.

What can you tell us about the experience of working for a foreign-based company in the property-development sphere – there must be distinct benefits and also challenges?
Having the opportunity to operate on an international arena says it all for me. That’s what gets me going every day and clearly I consider that the benefits completely outweigh the difficult challenges faced at times.

The Mall of Cyprus was handed over late last year after the massive expansion project. What were the most valuable learnings you took from the handover?
To pro-actively lead the process until the ribbon-cutting moment and to always have a contingency plan.

How much work still needs to be done with asset management on Iulius Mall, which is nearing completion in Timisoara in your home country?
The cinema is the last piece of the expansion and due to open in May. However, aside from having completed the main leasing tasks, I’d say that our work with asset management in Iulius Town is about to get more challenging during the following years, in order to deliver on all performance targets expected by all stakeholders.

What is top of your priority list for 2020? What lessons learnt from the Cyprus and Timisoara developments will you be applying to the opening of the new mall in Belgrade, Serbia?
The opening of Beo Mall in Belgrade in Serbia is coming up very soon, in April, and we are all very excited about the project, as over 98% of it is already leased. Other priorities this year revolve around the redevelopment of Mall of Engomi in Cyprus and a possible expansion of Iulius Mall Suceava in Romania.