Executive Vice President of Operations
with an infrastructure construction company

Working closely with one of our long-term clients, a specialty contractor that specializes in rail construction, Helbling secured an individual who has strong credentials and experience in profit and loss, safety, operational performance, business development, and overall leadership. While these attributes are attractive, our client selected him for his cultural fit, work ethic, and integrity. Within his one-year tenure, the selected professional has demonstrated his capabilities through his involvement in many successful strategic initiatives.

When the President & Chief Executive Officer of our long-term client decided to create the new role of Executive Vice President of Operations, reporting directly to him, he engaged Helbling to conduct the executive search. His objective in adding this position to his leadership team was to have a key executive dedicated to the company’s North American construction operations, which has revenues in excess of $500M and has performed projects in more than 40 U.S. states. The President wanted to bring in an executive from another major heavy civil contractor who would critically evaluate and make appropriate changes to the company’s existing organizational structure, assess and improve operational delivery, increase profitability, and help build the depth of operational management talent.

He wanted an executive who was a capable C-level manager who was willing to thoroughly analyze the firm’s various regional operations and broad project portfolio. The individual had to possess field operations experience in a self-performance construction environment, and knowledge of safety, planning, staffing, performance excellence, business development, and client management. He/she would also need to be a polished leader with financial acumen capable of overseeing profit and loss for a $500M+ business. 

Working closely with the President & Chief Executive Officer and the Vice President of Human Resources, we discussed the types of companies that may have ideal candidates. Considering our client’s level of revenues and its business being a national operation, we focused on firms with a similar or greater scope, both financially and geographically.

The search plan called for a comprehensive national outreach that primarily targeted candidates within significant heavy civil contractors and large engineering and construction conglomerates with heavy construction business units. We also included certain layers of the architecture/engineering community as sources of potential unconventional candidates.

We approached individuals at the levels of Vice President, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer based on their companies’ sizes and organizational structures. We specifically targeted those who were running similar-sized units in a comparable capacity within large and well-respected companies.

Our client selected an individual who came from a major contractor in the Southwest where he was managing a large business unit with full responsibility for profit and loss, safety, operational performance, business development, and overall leadership. He had been with his company for more than ten years, and he had created a strong reputation for himself with peer contractors, subcontractors, and clients. He also had a proven track record of performance and a fast-track career progression that elevated him to senior executive positions quickly. Therefore, he had the ability to perform in the Executive Vice President role from day one and to also assume additional responsibilities over time.

This candidate had very strong credentials on paper, but the major driving factor that led to his selection was his cultural fit with our client's organization, which places significant value on work ethic, integrity, willingness to connect with field-staff, and executive and operational abilities. The candidate had spent the early part of his career in the field, and he understood how executive decisions impact operations from the ground up. He possessed the ability to quickly identify issues with projects, processes, procedures, and existing talent.

After one year with our client’s organization, the new Executive Vice President of Operations has been involved with many changes. Within that time, he:

  • Hired in excess of ten new key managers in various regions to help strengthen internal talent.
  • Begun to realign the organizational structure to create a more efficient, effective, and unified corporate operation across the Company’s broad geographic regions.
  • Assumed additional direct reports and responsibilities amongst the executive team. 

Our client hired the Executive Vice President of Operations with the expectation that this individual would address several known internal challenges and identify additional areas for improvement. The candidate has created positive momentum within his one-year tenure, and he has expressed optimism about continuing positive execution of plans and changes to further enhance the organization. 

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The President of one of our long-term clients created the role of Executive Vice President of Operations so that his team would have an executive who could  evaluate and make appropriate changes to the company’s existing organizational structure, assess and improve operational delivery, increase profitability, and help build the depth of operational management talent. The selected candidate has very strong credentials on paper, but the major driving factor that led to his selection was his cultural fit with our client's organization, which places significant value on work ethic, integrity, willingness to connect with field-staff, and executive and operational abilities.
Tom Dunn, Managing Director - Mid-Atlantic

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