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Bob Kondracki

DNA of a VP of Construction

Bob Kondracki HeadshotRobert Kondracki began working summers for John Gallin & Son while attending college, and joined the company full-time after graduating. Over the past three decades, Bob has risen through the ranks, becoming Vice President and Project Manager — a position in which he has full responsibility for the management of projects and communication with clients. 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.

Robert Kondracki
Vice President
John Gallin & Son

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

I always aspired to become as successful as I could, but I actually started out as a stockbroker. I’m second generation construction so I guess this industry was in my blood. Once I started working at Gallin I knew this was the right place for me and I haven’t looked back since. 

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced along your career path and how did you overcome it?

Learning to trust other people to do their job. I think a lot of people find delegation difficult at first, it seems easier and more reliable to do things yourself. The trap there is that you start micromanaging, which means you’re not making the most of your time, and you’re not giving your team room to grow and learn. Overcoming it was a combination of working with good people and learning better management techniques. When you have good people on your team they meet or exceed your expectations and you’re comfortable giving them more responsibility the next time. And when you have the right management approach – when you are clear, concise and honest about expectations and requirements then you set people up for success.

What attributes/characteristics do believe are integral to the role?

The deadline and project focused nature of the job mean you need to be organized. The more responsibility you take on the more moving pieces you’ll be responsible for so becoming an efficient and effective decision maker is key.

I also think integrity and honesty are crucial. You have to build relationships within and outside your company, and going into those relationships with ulterior motives is a very short-sighted approach. After many years in this industry I’ve seen time and again that honesty pays off.

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

Don’t be afraid of hard work. In this industry you get out what you put in so you need to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get it done. Be proactive about finding your next project or role. You can’t expect people to be looking for you when a role comes up, you need to seek out that job, or that project or person to make sure that you’re on their radar.  

There are no shortcuts to the top in construction. If you try to rush into your next promotion or your next role before you’re ready then you won’t be doing yourself or your company any favors. You need to put in the time so you have the skills and experience to successfully lead a team and then a business.

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

It’s crucial to see a range of areas of the business. I started as a laborer in the summer and then became a Superintendent. It goes with what I was saying earlier – you can’t take shortcuts to senior management. To solve strategic problems you have to understand the trades. And if you don’t know something you have to have a network you can go to for the answers. I think the other half of delegation is knowing who to ask for help. Broad exposure to the business makes you a better leader, but you can’t know all the answers so you need to have a team and a network that has different experience and expertise.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Taking something from nothing to a beautiful space. I love being able to look at something physical and say “I built that”. 

Is there anything that the next generation should know?

You have to develop interpersonal skills. Construction is seen as a technical career path – and it definitely is at the start, but as you progress people are going to expect more and in the future and you have to be able to talk to each other. You need to be able to lead a team. 

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

You have to pay your dues, work hard and you will be rewarded.