Directors of Facilities Operations for a healthcare system

Our client is a world-renowned healthcare system in a major metropolitan area that brings together internationally recognized physicians and researchers. Its leadership is dedicated to the continuous advancement of the institution and providing a physical environment that reflects its commitment to excellence in patient care, research, education, and community service. 

Working closely with this organization for decades, we were retained to secure a Director of Facilities Operations for each of their two flagship campuses. The Directors are responsible for co-leading a multi-faceted facilities organization, holding primary responsibility for the system’s physical assets of 13 buildings spanning 3.5M gross square feet and the maintenance and operations of these facilities. They are also at the forefront of developing and executing a comprehensive and strategic approach to improving the physical plant. Most importantly, the system is in the midst of a multi-year capital plan valued at more than $3B, in which these Directors play a key role in the next stage of its plan.  

Despite the roles sharing responsibilities for major objectives, and having similar day-to-day duties, each campus had its own unique talent needs. One campus demands a professional with high-level engineering and technical skills to manage a complex infrastructure environment; develop, implement, and manage preventative and deferred maintenance programs; and enhance the leadership and culture of the facilities operations team. Due to the size and expanse of that campus, and understanding the region and respective talent pool as we do, we knew that there were very few individuals who would fit our client’s needs, and be willing to assume responsibility for a program of that magnitude where the role is not only forward facing but holds accountability for a large portfolio of space.   
The Director position for the second campus commands a professional who, along with being technically savvy, possesses a high degree of business acumen, an empowering leadership style, and exceptional soft skills who can work closely with the hospital’s executive leadership and sophisticate the internal facilities department. Due to this campus’s unique built environment, state-of-the-art equipment, and distinct level of care that is provided, it requires a professional who is capable of strategically managing the infrastructure, maintenance, and plant operations, while recognizing and expanding upon existing standards of excellence in accordance with the overall mission of the organization.  
The primary challenge in conducting these assignments was the fact that there are few organizations in the region similar to our client in size and progressiveness, which meant there was a finite group of professionals who could successfully assume these roles. The secondary challenges centered around attracting individuals who had the necessary skills, and who were also motivated to take on the tremendous objectives and initiatives, all within a complex urban environment.     

Since it was necessary for candidates to understand local and state regulations, we focused primarily on candidates who were with other regional healthcare entities, third-party providers of facilities services, and groups who would have similar qualities within their built environments, such as pharmaceutical corporations. We developed a broad talent pool by conducting direct outreach to professionals at the Director and Vice President levels. 
Homing in on candidates’ technical skills, educational credentials, and experiences initially, we then delved into their emotional intelligence, and intangible skills and traits. When speaking with and recruiting candidates, we highlighted the fact that the positions play instrumental roles in shaping and guiding the system’s overall strategic plan, which piqued the interest of individuals who had the level of talent we sought and professional traits to succeed within its culture and environment.
Our long-term relationship with the system and its senior leadership team, and understanding its internal culture, dynamics, and environment as we do, helped us immensely when evaluating and attracting candidates who would complement its team. We were ultimately successful in completing both searches by securing professionals who have vastly different personalities and skill sets from one another.    

For the first campus, we attracted a licensed Professional Engineer who has a solid understanding of complex infrastructure environments, having spent 25 years within the healthcare sector in the region and leading facilities operations for another major healthcare system. Because of his knowledge, he brought immediate value to our client, and has gained the trust and respect of his team, significantly enhancing its camaraderie.  

The second professional secured had been with a subsidiary hospital within our client’s system earlier in his career who had transitioned to lead all facilities and capital for a major community health system. In follow-up calls with our client, they expressed that his business and finance background, and strong business acumen allows him to effectively manage across of levels, which has been extremely beneficial in building strong relationships with the senior leaders of the system. 

As we continue working closely with this client in securing key professionals for its facilities and capital development team, we are helping them to achieve their goal of enhancing the sophistication of how their facilities and capital programs are being managed and lead at its two largest campuses. 

Learn more about Helbling's search process