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Andrew Cortese

DNA of a VP of Construction

Andrew Cortese Headshot Construction has always been at the center of Andrew Cortese’s life. He grew up in a family-owned construction business, and began working in the field with his father as a teenager. Andrew started his construction career during college, working as a freelance estimator for a variety of subcontractors. He graduated Pratt Institute summa cum laude in 1993 with a degree in Construction Management. John Gallin and Son is currently celebrating its 130th year of being a family owned general contractor in New York City. For 130 years, a Gallin has owned and run this company – making it the longest continuously family owned general contractor in America. Founded in 1886, John Gallin & Son provides quality, cost-effective construction management and general contracting services for commercial interiors for the New York corporate community

Andrew Cortese
Vice President
John Gallin & Son

Gallin Company LogoHave you always aspired to becoming a VP of a construction company? 

Yes, I always aspired to perform to the best of my potential and become a leader. My family have construction backgrounds so I was raised in the industry and I knew early on that I wanted to carry on that tradition. I studied Architecture with a Construction Management focus at  the Pratt Institute, which gave me a really good foundation to build on. 

Have you ever second guessed your career path? 

Never – I could not do anything else. I love building projects and being proud of the results.  

What technical skills do you think are integral to the role? 

You need an in-depth knowledge of the construction process, and good management techniques including the ability to manage both up and down. 

What is your advice to someone who is moving up the ranks in the field and wants to pursue a management/executive career? 

Do the task in front of you at the best of your ability. If you make the many small decisions you have to make on a daily basis with integrity and if you are dedicated to your responsibilities your advancement up the ladder is inevitable.  

How important is it to be exposed to all areas of the business?  

You have to understand what everyone else needs to do. It is critical to understand all the obstacles faced and responsibilities of everyone on the team. 

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

Seeing the end results of the projects after all the hard work, dedication and decisions made. 

In your opinion, how important is networking?

It is imperative to build a network of clients for future work, subcontractors for project teams and design professionals to successfully implement the design intention. This is true at all stages of your career. Even if you’re not currently looking for work or trying to hire someone, building your network today will help you in the future. If you wait until you need something to start networking you’ll wish you’d been more proactive.  

Compared to 5 or 10 years ago, in your opinion how would you say your role has evolved? 

The speed of communications has increased exponentially. This includes emails, CAD and PDF documents. This means the expectations of clients and subcontractors has increased and so has the speed of which explanations are required. You need to be able to make fast, accurate assessments and decisions. When everything is available immediately you can get bogged down thinking that everything is urgent.  The ability to prioritize in a fast-paced environment is key. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of professionals aspiring to become a construction leader? 

Be prepared to dedicate the time and effort to gain knowledge academically and through professional experience. Execute all tasks, no matter how trivial, to your fullest ability. Respect and success is earned and integrity is paramount.