The Leader Magazine

DEC 2018

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the lea D er December 2018 23 C reative problem-solving might best summarize Ron Zappile's approach to work. Throughout the four decades of his global career in real estate and finance, he has often been credited with recognizing a need that hasn't yet been addressed and finding a sure-fire way to address it – and then passing that solution along to others. His career spanned 30 years with United Technologies Corp. (UTC) where he served in his last role as president of United Technologies Realty (UTR) and Director, Global Real Estate Operations. As evidence of his broad professional skill set, he also spent time at UTC as global CFO of Otis Engineering Centers. For UTC's Otis Engineering Centers, his solution was a financial planning and reporting system that helped the UTC unit make more sense of complex and under-supported financial operations. The system that Zappile developed and implemented was so successful in redirecting the financial, administrative, project-management and project- reporting functions for Otis, it was awarded an Application Technology Award by Computerworld magazine in the late 1980s. George Gibson, to whom Zappile reported at the time, said, "What struck me was that he had a sense of diligence, of the importance of what he was working on. He knew he had to report to a chain; he was interested in the job. "He came in as things were getting complicated; there was a lot involved," added Gibson, who now is an independent elevator consultant. "Ron dug into it and within a short period he made recommendations on how to come into the 20th century." In addition, Gibson said, Zappile's work ethic was supported by a management style everyone could get behind. "He teaches people," Gibson said. "He had several clerical and administrative people reporting to him and he mentored them in a way that was productive. And when he left, they were able to continue on." Real estate consultant Michael A. P. Casolo, MCR, who worked in a service-provider role with Zappile for about 10 years, describes him as "one of the strongest and most fair clients I've ever worked with," noting the ability to balance these personal characteristics along with a focus on what was important to his own company. "He always put his company's needs first but treated the service-provider firm fairly and reasonably. He held us accountable; he pushed us to do new and different things." Again, new and different. Creative. As founder and president of UTR, he developed, also from the ground up, the company's first formal corporate real estate function with the goal of corralling a scattered portfolio of about 108 million square feet (10 million sq. m.) of space at some 5,000 properties located globally. As part of the effort, Zappile standardized all real estate functions – acquisitions, space planning, leasing, dispositions, etc. – across the company's handful of business units and produced a "Strategic Real Estate" handbook to document those processes. This was critical for senior executives, including those from the C-Suite, who were competing against one another for limited resources and managing their own real estate processes. For buy-in across those business units, Zappile leveraged the significant management support he was able to attain, and put in place strategic checkpoints throughout the organization's processes to force compliance. A provision in the UTC Financial Manual, for example, was included to restrict any real estate deal from being performed without the expressed consent from him on the capital appropriation request. For the crux of the program, he and his sparse staff developed an outsourced service-delivery model that is credited with saving UTC nearly $365 million. Described by Zappile himself once as "centralized management with local deployment," the model is still recognized today as a best practice and is followed by corporate real estate executives around the world. During the first three years of implementation, from 2001 to 2004, his team performed 37 consolidations and eliminated 11 million square feet (1 million sq. m.) of space, just in North America. In addition to his credentials in financial management and CRE, Zappile is considered a subject-matter expert on process management, quality control and innovative global sourcing. He has extensive experience in teaching and mentoring, and has been a lecturer for New York University's Schack Institute of Real Estate, for Auburn University, and for The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey's International Studies Program. His career has taken him around the globe with work to Europe, from Portugal and Spain, to France, Italy, Germany and Russia. He also lived in Singapore for five years and traveled extensively as part of his responsibilities throughout the Asia Pacific Region, including to India, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Korea and China, amongst others. After his retirement from United Technologies Corp., Zappile formed an independent consulting group and served briefly as CoreNet Global's interim CEO. "When I retired from UTC and was asked by the CoreNet Global Board Chairman at the time if I would be willing to step into the role of interim CEO of CoreNet Global, there was no hesitation," Zappile said. "This request was my opportunity to give back to CoreNet Global, the staff, and the members that helped me in my journey at UTR/UTC. It was a privilege to be asked and I gladly accepted." Zappile stabilized the organization through better financial controls and by restructuring project- and process-management and reporting. "Ron was passionate about CoreNet Global's success and took the interim helm of the association following the Global Financial Crisis," said Lee Utke, MCR.h, Partner, Roseview Group LLC., and former CoreNet Global Chair at the time. "We needed a steady hand to keep the organization going at a difficult time in the association's history. He was instrumental in helping hire a new CEO and providing the board with a clear assessment of challenges and opportunities for the future. It's members like Ron who epitomize the spirit of volunteerism and leadership that has pushed CoreNet Global forward." Current CEO Angela Cain adds: "It was clear upon assuming the position that Ron had left his mark on the association. His leadership style and emphasis on metrics, accountability and business improvement were so informative early in my tenure." Previously, Zappile served as the association's Treasurer and as a Global Board Director. He also held leadership positions within the Connecticut- Westchester Chapter, including Chair, and the Eastern Regional Symposium planning committee. He is also a founder of Bench Core LLC, a real estate benchmarking and analytics service, where he presently serves as Director of Operations and COO. In this capacity he collaborated with CoreNet Global in 2014 to deploy innovative benchmarking services for corporate real estate. The service later became BenchCoRE, the brand offering of Bench Core LLC. The service allows CRE professionals to benchmark real estate portfolios against the world's best portfolios to promote efficiency, cost savings and strategic value. Now positioned to continue giving back to the CRE profession and association, Zappile says: "During my 40-plus-year career, CoreNet Global was a significant partner in helping me reach career goals and successes during my tenure at United Technologies Realty (UTR). Upon assuming the CRE role at United Technologies Corporation (UTC) and establishing UTR, I immediately turned to CoreNet Global for insight, knowledge, networking and counsel. CoreNet Global was an invaluable asset in my achieving the success I did in the real estate role at UTR, and overall in the corporate real estate profession. "I am humbled by the recognition and thank the Distinguished Leaders Circle selection committee, the staff at CoreNet Global, and my nominator, Michael Casolo, all of whom facilitated the process of my selection." Ronald (Ron) Zappile, Sr.

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