Executive Director of Planning, Design & Construction
for a healthcare system

Representing a renowned medical institution that had recently restructured its facilities department, Helbling secured a professional who has brought an empowering and inspirational leadership style that was desperately needed for the department to progress.
Our client is a world-renowned, single-mission, not-for-profit research and academic healthcare system in the southern United States. Prior to retaining Helbling to conduct this search, the organization had implemented a major restructuring of its Facilities department, which entailed merging the architectural, design, and engineering services teams that had been within the separate departments of Administrative Facilities and Campus Operations; Patient Care and Prevention Facilities Research; and Education Facilities. The Executive Director who was in place was experiencing difficulties with the merger as the three teams continued to operate relatively independently of one another. Because the organization was committed to making the centralized structure work, the decision was made to search for a new Executive Director who would effectively lead the newly merged Facilities Planning, Design & Construction department through the transition.  

Understanding the challenge our client was facing and the fact that the merger was a critical initiative that must be successful, we knew it was imperative to find a strong leader who possessed the technical expertise necessary, as well as strong interpersonal and communication skills. The individual would need to understand how to motivate the newly merged team and encourage collaboration and synergy so that it would function as a high-performing cohesive unit. 

Partnering with the Director of Executive Recruitment and the Vice President of Facilities, we developed a search strategy that entailed identifying individuals who were with leading healthcare entities and academic institutions with medical schools as well as architectural, engineering, construction management, and program management firms. We focused our efforts on professionals who also had experience managing large departments and/or project teams.

We provided our client with a diverse slate of candidates who possessed extensive experience within facilities planning and capital projects and who were with corporations, higher education institutions, and other healthcare systems. 

Along with the search committee, the Vice President of Facilities selected an individual who spent more than 20 years with the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps, working extensively with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), U.S. Navy Seabees, and a variety of commands around the globe. While in the Navy, the professional was the Program Lead and the Resident Officer in Charge of Construction for the award-winning $563M Camp Pendleton Hospital Replacement Program. Most recently, he was with a global engineering, architectural, and construction management firm as program manager responsible for healthcare and education programs up to $425M.

The consensus among the search committee members was that, in addition to being technically qualified for the position, the selected candidate would bring an empowering and inspirational leadership style which would enable him to effectively implement change and create a collaborative, productive work environment that the Planning, Design & Construction department desperately needed. The individual’s experience was highly applicable because he spent his career providing strategic definition to large, multi-project programs requiring development and implementation of extensive organizational structure and workable methodologies. 

During his first 15 months with our client, the successful candidate has developed a highly collaborative department. He has fostered strong relationships throughout the department where people feel empowered to give their opinions and know their opinions are truly being heard. He has also implemented a new training program for his team and enhanced communication by implementing daily stand-up meetings with his direct reports and weekly stand-up meetings with his entire 140-person department. 

In follow-up conversations, the Vice President of Facilities has articulated that the new Executive Director has been a tremendous hire who is well respected across the organization beyond facilities management. His high energy level and positive attitude/demeanor are exactly what the department needed. He empowers teams through his mission- and people-focused leadership style and has significantly boosted morale.  

The Executive Director has received dozens of emails from employees within the organization complimenting his efforts and expressing that he’s doing a better job than anyone they have ever seen in the role, and they are so grateful to have him. Needless to say, he is enjoying his new position and his team, and is looking forward to making a continued positive impact within his department and on the organization as a whole.   

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The Executive Director’s empowering and inclusive leadership style enabled him to quickly transform his newly merged department into a highly collaborative and cohesive group. The implementation of daily stand-up meetings with his direct reports and weekly stand-up meetings with his entire 140-person department where opinions are freely expressed and strongly considered strengthened his team and significantly increased morale and productivity.
Joe Wargo, Senior Managing Consultant

Learn more about Helbling's search process