Senior Vice President, Construction
for a privately held, national real estate developer

Helbling was retained by a privately held real estate investment organization to secure a Senior Vice President, Construction. The successful candidate has quickly become a valuable member of the company's senior leadership team by applying his understanding of the real estate market, extensive design and construction experience, innovative mindset, and financial savvy to prudently control design and construction costs so that project requirements are attainable.

Our client is involved in the hospitality, residential, industrial, and retail sectors. Headquartered in a major U.S. metropolitan area, it owns and operates properties across the U.S.

The firm’s Senior Vice President of Construction (SVP) role is significant within its corporate structure because it leads all design and construction operations. Reporting to the President & Chief Executive Officer, the SVP is responsible for working with financial, development, and leasing partners to determine the viability of projects.

The role demands a professional who understands the real estate development realm, has extensive design and construction experience, an innovative mindset, and financial savvy to prudently control design and construction costs so that project requirements are attainable. Our client’s objectives also commanded that the SVP have the skills to attract and develop a management team to successfully build complicated residential and hospitality projects.

In conducting the assignment, there were two primary complexities. One was the limited talent pool within our client’s metropolitan area. Due to the level of its organization and its portfolio of projects, there are few professionals who have the necessary capabilities, experience, and intangible qualities to be successful, and even fewer who are attainable.

The second complexity was that the search was being conducted for a confidential replacement. Therefore, all search activities had to be performed with the utmost discretion.

We worked in high collaboration with our client’s President & Chief Executive Officer with whom we have had a professional relationship for more than two decades. Initially, we considered our extensive network of contacts, and researched the real estate developers and real estate investment trusts in the metropolitan area. We then closely analyzed the talent within other organizations that was in a similar capacity of the SVP role.

We targeted individuals who had residential and hospitality experience who were currently managing a similar portfolio of projects and who had the intrinsic qualities that the role demanded. Once we identified preliminary prospective candidates, we personally met with our client and discussed who the professionals were in the respective firms. Together, we agreed upon the individuals in which we had a mutual interest and who we thought would be receptive to exploring the role. In getting to know these candidates, we assessed their experiences, qualifications, motivations, and interest levels, as well as their cultural fits within our client’s organization.

Our search generated 12 potential candidates who had different depths of experiences performing residential and hospitality projects. We moved forward with three final candidates, and to more thoroughly assess the professionals, we performed extensive references on each while our client conducted talent profiles. Additionally, we had numerous conversations with the candidates on how they individually perceived the SVP role and what they believed they could contribute to the position and the organization.

Our client selected a professional who has more than 25 years of experience, and was the Director of Construction with another large real estate owner and developer within the metropolitan area. He was chosen for his credentials, experiences, stage of career, references, and his assessment profile, which our client considered “ideal."

In speaking with his references, the executive was described as being “capable across the full spectrum in dealing with the highest of high-end and complicated personalities that are common within owners and developers to workers on the construction site." He has a high level of emotional intelligence that is reinforced with strong technical knowledge and deep experience.

The new SVP’s skills and abilities quickly became evident upon joining our client’s organization. Within a short time frame, he has developed strong relationships with his leadership colleagues, as well as with employees at all levels. His collaborative management style has allowed him to significantly impact the design and construction team, and its strategies and processes. The company now pursues customers and projects as an integrated team with its development partners and leasing managers. Together, they analyze the scope and viability of projects, which streamlines operations and enhances profitability.

At the writing of this case study, the SVP is managing upwards of 15 residential and hospitality development projects. Because of the level of sophistication that he has brought to our client’s design and development team, they recently secured a major player in the international hospitality market.

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The selected candidate's collaborative management style has allowed him to significantly impact the design and construction team, and its strategies and processes. The company now pursues customers and projects as an integrated team with its development partners and leasing managers. Together, they analyze the scope and viability of projects, which streamlines operations and enhances profitability.
Tom Helbling, President

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