The Leader Magazine

DEC 2017

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48 DECEMBER 2017 th E l E a DER How long have you been at s teelcase, and how long have you been in corporate real estate (C re )? t ell us about your career path. My career path is not a typical one for a CRE professional. Right after I got my degree in finance and accounting, I went to work for Deloitte. I was there for about four years. Then I took a job with Steelcase in the Finance organization. I've been with Steelcase now for 23 years, and it's been a great company to work for. I was in the Finance organization for about seven years. I then was asked to join what at the time was called the Supply Chain organization within the Operations group, where I had a variety of roles. In 2008, I was asked to come back to the Finance organization during the downturn in the economy. We were looking for ways to improve our operating expenses and kicked off a number of initiatives focused on this. I provided financial support for and led a few of these projects. Some of the projects involved real estate and, after working with and supporting those projects, I was asked by the executive who headed Real Estate if I would be interested in joining the group. That was about seven years ago. I ended up taking the position and have led the group for the past four years. What do you see as your biggest accomplishment? As Steelcase reinvented itself during the financial crisis nearly a decade ago, we brought our white-collar workforce in west Michigan together onto one campus. This project, which we called Connect 12, was a major employee and Daniel (Dan) White, MCR Director, Global Real Estate & Facilities Steelcase real estate consolidation where we exited about 660,000 square feet (61,000 sq. m.) of space in our Corporate Development Center, almost 10 miles (16 km.) away from our headquarters and migrated the 750 employees to our main campus. We built out a new Innovation Center and a new WorkCafe and updated a number of other spaces on the campus to support those additional employees. The project reduced our real estate footprint by about 50 percent and it was a really challenging and interesting project from a construction, fit-out and change-management standpoint. But more important, it was the catalyst for changing the culture of our company. We introduced a new workplace mobility and collaboration strategy we called "Best Place," which gave many of our employees the option to work anywhere on campus. By changing the ways employees worked, we began to change the ways leaders managed their mobile teams. I learned a ton from that project. Now, I'm one of those people who doesn't have an assigned workstation or office, but I can find the space that supports the type of work I need to do at that moment. What's one of your favorite quotes? It's a quote I have used now for many years. It's more on the personal side rather than work or business: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." I don't know who said it first or in what context, but it's a quote I will often remind my kids of. It really hit home after we adopted our youngest child. On the day of her adoption, that quote happened to be on a small desktop calendar we had at home. What is the last book you read? I'm a big John Grisham fan. When I'm on vacation I'll pick up the latest John Grisham book, such as "Gray Mountain" or "Rogue Lawyer." What was the best advice you ever received? A few years ago, I was involved in a leadership program at Steelcase. One of the areas that program stressed was the importance of making a personal connection with the people you work with. That has really stuck with me. Developing that personal connection helps to build relationships and, ultimately, trust. Trust is key to getting things done in an organization. Having a level of trust with my team and my colleagues has enabled me to work through different situations and issues that have come up, and I'd say is some of the best advice or coaching CORPORATE PARTNER PROFILE that I've ever received. Another piece of advice I remember getting earlier in my career, as I started managing people, was the need to find what makes people tick and then figure out what kind or role or responsibility suits them. Then, give them the flexibility and trust to do their job. There is not just one way of getting things done; there is a variety of ways. Give them flexibility and trust, and you'll be amazed at what people can get done. i f not in C re , what would you be? That's a great question. I would like to say on the PGA Tour but, unfortunately, that's not very realistic. I would probably have some kind of global finance/leadership role. I am a pretty analytical guy but really enjoy working with people and cross-functional teams from around the globe. What is your favorite pastime? I love the game of golf. It is an absolute challenge for me and a lot of fun. Also, living in Michigan, we get to experience all the seasons. I enjoy the outdoors and embrace outdoor activities from each of the seasons: skiing in the winter, water sports in the summer, hiking, etc. What do you want your legacy to be? I'd really like to be remembered as a guy that people trusted to do the right thing for our employees and our company. It's as simple as that. t ell us about your family. My wife and I are blessed to have four daughters. Our oldest is 22 and the youngest is 11. There are lots of activities and events with them, and I absolutely enjoy being able to support them and their different activities. My oldest just graduated from Michigan State University, my next daughter is attending Hope College as a freshman, and my younger two are in junior high school. My wife and I have been married for 24 years. We have a very active and close family, and there's always something going on – never a dull moment around our home. To learn more about the CoreNet Global Corporate Partner program, contact David Vining at dvining@corenetglobal.org.

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