Insight Blog

Executive Search Case Study: Vice President of Capital Planning & Facilities

by Katie E. Rodgers
Public Library

Helbling represented a prominent non-profit cultural organization with one of the more impressive portfolios in the New York City area to secure a Vice President of Capital Planning & Facilities (VP). In charge of developing strategic master plans for large capital projects and renovations, the role commands an empowering leader with strong interpersonal skills and executive presence. The organization’s continuous advancement demands a candidate who can provide a fresh perspective, enhance team morale, and meet end-user expectations. The selected professional has the necessary track record of transforming department culture and performing preventative maintenance to uphold the high-quality standards of our client’s brand on their 60+ properties, along with the leadership and design capabilities to execute new construction programs on-time and under budget.

Challenge

Our client is a prominent non-profit cultural organization in the New York City area. The institution needed to secure a Vice President of Capital Planning & Facilities (VP) who would be responsible for overseeing the organization’s ongoing capital program while leading, evaluating, and managing a diverse 40-person staff. As one of the largest, and most well-attended, non-profit cultural organizations in the NYC area, it was necessary for the new VP to create and manage new standards and processes for enhancing components within the facilities department, as well as engage the public for ways to resource, fund, and complete new expansive projects. Being that the organization is funded by local and state governments, and private donors, our client needed someone who was comfortable partnering with senior leadership, who was forward-facing, and who could liaise with these different external constituents related to the institution’s capital construction program.

Strategic leadership capabilities were critical, along with the ability to envision and anticipate the institution’s needs 5, 10, and 20 years down the road to shift the current facilities division from past and present to the future. Yet, the role also required a problem-solver who takes the time to truly understand how each and every one of their 60+ buildings could, and should, best be utilized. This professional had to be a master planner with a collaborative management style necessary for getting both his team and senior leadership on board.

Strategy

With the search being conducted in one of Helbling’s largest markets, we were comfortable that a local campaign would produce the level of talent that was required by the client. Working directly with the Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration and the Vice President of Human Resources, we carefully crafted a widespread search plan. Our recruiting efforts consisted of targeting individuals within various industry sectors including similar cultural institutions, higher education and healthcare institutions, government entities, and non-profits. This search effort resulted in ascertaining the interest of diverse candidates and, ultimately, our client interviewing 10 highly qualified individuals. 

This was our first, of now five assignments with the institution. To gain a better understanding of the organization’s culture and ideals and develop a relationship with management, multiple conversations and site visits occurred, which in turn allowed Helbling to become effective and trusted partners, and resulted in our client securing their ideal candidate who best matched in terms of the tangible needs of the organization and in terms of cultural fit.

Results

After a comprehensive search for an individual who could assume the extensive responsibilities of leading our client’s ongoing capital program, facilities planning, and maintenance and operations, we were successful in attracting and securing a professional with more than 25 years of relevant industry experience. Prior to joining our client, the selected candidate worked for a university where his responsibilities included the development and strategic oversight of long-range facilities initiatives, and managing the ongoing capital program and preventative maintenance plans. He is known for his communication skills and ability to recognize his audience and tailor his methods to attract listeners, which was extremely appealing to our client.  With a strong sense of design, and a unique focus on functionality and space utilization, the professional’s perspective and experience will transform the department and the ways in which they implement their standards for success. 

Since joining the organization, the VP has gained the trust and respect of senior leadership, end-users, and his internal department, and he has worked diligently to enhance the overall efficiency, accountability, and technical prowess of the department. In addition to working closely with the Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration on political and funding matters related to the ongoing capital and renovation program, the VP has also spearheaded the effort to reshape and enhance the level of talent within his organization in an effort to take more ownership and responsibility of work that can now be completed in-house. This growth has occurred both organically through various training and development mechanisms that our candidate has put in place, along with the support of Helbling to hire additional talented industry professionals to support his organization.