Succession Planning: Skills and Skin in the Game

Multifamily Executive magazine recently published a story about succession planning in our industry, using the recent experiences of WinnCompanies, the Bozzuto Group and Cirrus Asset Management as a window into what can be a sensitive and difficult issue for some companies.

The article was very well done, and I thought it was worth going into a bit more detail about my thinking behind building and transitioning executive-level management. One of the principles on which I founded the company is that our people are the source of our success. We have been very fortunate to attract smart and passionate professionals who accelerate our trajectory.

My thought process when it comes to leadership planning always centers on two factors: First, I want executives who will put us in position to grow and improve as a development and management company in scale, services and professionalism. Second, I want to look two or three years down the road to identify the executive who will be the best fit where the company will want to be at that time.

It’s a risk to hire executives based on the need at the moment, because that moment passes. There is a saying in hockey that players should go to where the puck will be, not where it is. That wisdom applies to these kinds of decisions as well.

When it came time for a new CEO at WinnCompanies, it was important to have someone with both skills and skin in the game. We needed the right professional to guide the company through a critical period of investment in the technologies, systems and personnel that would allow us to continue to grow and succeed. But we also wanted to accomplish that without sacrificing the culture and values that make us the leader in the field.

Gilbert matches both of those requirements. He had the training and knowledge to be a great executive leader and he has the company’s best interests in his heart.

We could have recruited a technically expert CEO from outside the company who could manage change in a way that protected our financial bottom line. But that would have been managing for the moment. Gilbert has the technical expertise to prepare us for the future with an expert leadership team by his side. As an owner, he also will make decisions that will protect the culture and values that have always been critical to our success and growth.