Tigran Haas: Redefining Urbanism for the Future

Tigran Haas | Director/CEO | Centre for the Future of Places (CFP)
Dr. Tigran Haas | Director/CEO | Centre for the Future of Places (CFP)

Lessons for Management and Leadership

In an interview with CIO LOOK, Dr. Tigran HaasDirector/CEO of the International Centre for the Future of Places (CFP), emphasizes on his vision and achievements en route to success. He holds an expertise in current research and teaching focus on contemporary trends and paradigms in urban planning & design, new urbanism, sustainable urbanism, social housing and urban transformations, and city development and design.

CIO LOOK admire such leaders and feels pride in featuring Dr. Haas in its special edition edition, “Revolutionary CEOs, 2019“.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Kindly take us through your journey on becoming a leader. 

Leadership is definitely a complex journey of self transformation, a journey traveled by an individual who has been handed over the responsibility of guiding people towards achieving a certain business objective. Teaching Project and Strategic Management and Project Leadership for over 8 years has help me understand some of these things much better and the period of 5 years running a research Lab plus being director of three educational programs has also helped immensely. Getting things done from the team is just one part of the job of a leader and the team has to be assembled in the best possible way where the issues of competence, equality and professionalism are crucial but also the finesse to know where each person can contribute the most. At the outset of my leadership role, I started to expand and build new networks. Connection on all physical and virtual platforms was a must and continues to grow; where the inner great relationship with the team and employees is crucial and is sine qua non for the sustainable longevity of the enterprise. Winning their trust, gaining honest feedback, achieving friendships and developing mutual respect is crucial.

How do you describe your company’s purpose and entice your target audience to gain benefits from your organization’s offerings?

As an international research Centre, focusing on the relation between urban form and human behavior with a focus on public spaces, the audience is very much academic but also practitioners, policy makers and the civil society or general public. The Centre works on a few levels where the research findings are geared for a pathfinding way into policy and also passing through practice. The most important things are the highest quality outputs in research, publications, media events and societal relevance as well as links to higher, graduate and post graduate education. The pillars that the host institution of KTH has, those of sustainability, equality and internationalization are deeply embedded into the fabric of the everyday ad strategic activities of the Centre. With a strong physical and virtual staff with highest competences in the area, we believe that through the four themes of sustainable urbanism, housing and urban spaces, urban form and human behavior and urban transformations projects and research findings of high quality can and are emerging, to which our annual report 2016/2017 and the 2018 are testimonies and the 5 awards the Centre has already received from its three year work.

What are the crucial traits which every CEO must possess? 

Ability to learn from the past and from mistakes; strong communication skills and building sustainable relationships on all levels; listening, understanding and doing; optimism and risk taking to a specific degree; reading people and adapting them to necessary task in the organization; anticipating problems and thinking outside the box; eliminating threats and psychopathic personalities.

As per your opinion, what roadblocks or challenges are faced by CEOs whilst emerging as a leader? And what is your advice to overcome them? 

One of the hurdles is surely the environment one is at, the micro, meso and macro. Micro being the immediate one with all the challenges of competences, staff, tasks, immediate decisions, administration and leadership as well as conflicts; the meso being the plane of projects and partnerships and cases on the ground and the cities where the work is being done but also the products, the media, networks etc. and finally the macro with all the challenges and competition and major issues on the regional national and global level that influence the work and strategy of the place where one works. Roadblocks will be many from personal choices, communication, decisions and project and program work that brings many knowables but also many unknowables. The key thing is a tight organization with good leadership and delegation of responsibilities where the chemistry functions and all are onboard towards a common goal and where mutual benefit must prevail, nit individual gain and vanity.

What will be your future endeavors and/or where do you see yourself in the near future?

After the five-year sequel of the Centre, we will see what the future has installed for us, that is where the next focus will lie in the coming five years, either continuing in then path we have set or turning the ship into another, slightly less (un)charted destination. One thing is sure, that in the next two years the focus will be on the critical issue of rising smart and new experimental cities and issue of autonomous mobility but still having the first 3-year theme of cities for all and who owns the city in the backdrop. The main issue is that cities are getting more complex and the challenges are rising on a daily basis with multiple converging crises that seek answers for new theories, tools and approaches. The Centre will try to answer these calls as it goes into the next period.