Vice President of Real Estate & Asset Management
for a non-profit organization

Helbling represented a non-profit organization that provides community-based services to individuals with disabilities in conducting an executive search to secure a Vice President of Real Estate & Asset Management (VP). The role's objectives are to effectively manage real estate assets and to improve service delivery. While the position demands a strong business acumen and solid financial skills, it also requires an understanding of cultural, religious, and disability issues. The selected professional has a mission-centered mindset with experience working in real estate and non-profit organizations. Thus far in her tenure, she has made significant progress in refining processes, which has resulted in efficiency, reduced costs, and enhanced transparency.

Our client needed to secure a Vice President of Real Estate & Asset Management who would be responsible for all aspects of its facilities, construction projects, and real estate portfolio. The objectives of the role include improving systems, processes, and procedures; and enhancing the group’s financial management and overall professionalism.

To initiate the assignment, our consultant traveled to the organization’s headquarters to personally meet the individuals with whom we would be working to learn more about the organization, its culture and goals, and the challenges and opportunities of the VP role. During these early conversations, the many dynamics of the position were identified.

Most importantly, the organization’s senior leadership and end-users believed that the real estate function was underperforming. End-users did not understand the schedule and budget constraints being put on facilities management, and there was a need to improve practices when dealing with late requests and changes initiated by customers. Therefore, some of the main intentions of the VP role were to analyze and enhance the real estate component, provide transparency, and improve communication and relationships with end-users.

The new VP would also be expected to assess the effectiveness of current practices and systems, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies to standardize and streamline processes to facilitate effective management and responsive service delivery.

In considering all of these factors that would impact the role, we were able to understand the technical and intangible qualifications needed in potential candidates. Our client preferred prospective candidates to have master-level degrees in planning, architecture, engineering, construction management, or a related field; and 10 to 15 years of experience in capital planning and project management, with an emphasis in healthcare, long-term living, and education facilities. Ideal professionals would also have backgrounds in real estate, including purchase and sale processes and documents; commercial and residential lease processes and documents; building permits; and zoning requirements.

The position demands a strong business acumen, knowledge of sophisticated financial systems, negotiating and strategic management skills, as well as an understanding of cultural, religious, racial, disability, and gender issues. Excellent leadership and communication skills are also essential due to the VP dedicating a significant amount of time building relationships with operational leaders, funders, vendors, landlords, and governmental officials and regulators. 

Helbling’s consultant responsible for the search is highly networked in our client’s area so to begin recruitment, he reached out to his industry network for referrals of talented professionals. He performed extensive research to identify additional qualified candidates, focusing on leaders of facilities, real estate, or construction, or a combination thereof, with mission-driven organizations, such as other non-profit entities and service organizations, higher education institutions, and healthcare organizations, all within the local market.

To ensure a comprehensive pool of candidates, also considered were individuals in companies that specialize in facilities management and real estate services.

Working closely with our client’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, our consultant identified several candidates who were highly qualified with the technical expertise for the VP role. However, a certain individual stood apart from the others for her experience and roles within real estate development and property management firms, as well as non-profits and prominent higher education institutions. 

This individual was especially attractive to our client because of her heavy involvement in public service and participation as a board member for a non-profit organization that protected women. Her experience, compassion, and dedication to human services made her a natural match for the VP role. She was ultimately selected for her expertise, personality, and mission-driven mindset.

In follow-up conversations, our client has expressed many positive comments about the new VP’s technical capabilities and her intangible qualities. Thus far, she has made significant progress refining the organization’s construction processes and procedures, which have increased efficiency, reduced costs, and provided more transparency. Her leadership abilities and management style have allowed her to build strong relationships with her team and to enhance overall engagement and productivity.

When speaking with the VP, she has expressed that the spirit and mission of our client’s organization is something that is "near and dear" to her heart. She had always wanted a career in which she could apply her knowledge of real estate to a mission-driven organization that supports people in need. As such, the VP role is a perfect opportunity for her. 

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We secured an individual who was especially attractive to our client because of her heavy involvement in public service and participation as a board member for a non-profit organization that protected women. Her experience, compassion, and dedication to human services made her a natural match for the VP role. She was ultimately selected for her expertise, personality, and mission-driven mindset.
Jim Lord, Executive Director - Northeast

Learn about Helbling’s search process