A private research university, ranked among the top 10 national universities by U.S. News and World Report, sought a Chief Real Estate Officer in preparation for a retirement. The university receives more federal research and development funding than any other in the United States, has an endowment exceeding $4B, and is comprised of 10 academic and research divisions and numerous centers, institutes, and affiliated entities.
Its Facilities & Real Estate office handles the development of new projects, leasing of space, asset/property management, and the sale and purchase of real estate for the university and its corresponding health system. The departure of the Executive Director provided an opportunity to restructure and elevate this leadership position. As the new position was highly visible, the individual would need to be comfortable as a public face, voice, and champion of the office.
The university wanted to attract a candidate with a strong reputation and track record in complex and large-scale real estate development. In addition to experience in planning, design, financing, construction, property management, and asset management, the individual had to have leadership skills with at least ten years of experience managing a department, team, or division and the ability to work alongside the university board, internal customers, and external stakeholders.
The ideal candidate would also be mission-driven—not just profit-driven—with the tact and diplomacy to operate in an academic environment and make business decisions that align with the university’s mission, vision, and values. With those parameters in mind, the client selected Helbling to conduct the search because of our combined expertise in higher education facilities management and in real estate development. The client also valued our ability to provide hands-on collaboration at all stages of the search process.