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David Gregory

DNA of a VP of Construction

David Gregory HeadshotDavid Gregory is Vice President at Bravo Builders, LLC. He has a 20-year record of success overseeing all phases of multimillion-dollar construction projects, including luxury high-rise residential, hotel, mixed-use, education and commercial buildings for private-sector clients. David’s experience includes having been a Vice President and Senior Project Manager at a Global Construction Management Firm. He has managed projects of up to $250 million, from the initial planning stages through project completion, turnover and closeout. David has strong construction industry credentials, including holding a site safety manager license and is a LEED accredited professional. He has a proven history of on-time, on-budget and high-quality project completions. David received his A.O.S in Architectural Technology from the Institute of Design and Construction in Brooklyn, New York.

David Gregory
Vice President
Bravo Builders

Bravo BuildersHave you always aspired to becoming a VP (or above) of a construction company?

No, I have always aspired to be influential but the title was secondary. When you are at the start of your career, you are more inclined to chase a title. You want to progress from an APM to a Project Manager and then again to a Senior Project Manager and so on. However, for me, as you advance in your career the title becomes less important than the tasks and responsibilities.

Was construction always your career path?

I originally wanted to work on the design side of the industry. After I completed my degree I was mainly applying for drafting roles at architectural practices, but I also applied to CM firms offering more project management oriented positions. I was offered a position with a large global construction manager and was enticed by both the prestige of the company and starting salary so I decided to give it a go. I’ve been working in construction ever since. 

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

The biggest obstacle is learning how to deal with the wide variety of people and situations that you encounter. It’s a combination of experience and thinking on your feet. If you can master that and learn to deal with any situation thrown at you, you can excel in your career. Construction knowledge is one aspect of the job but if you can’t understand people then you will never progress beyond a certain point.

I’ve always made it a habit to watch those above and around me who were successful and emulate what they did, which taught me a lot. I also received leadership training throughout my career which has taught me invaluable management skills that would apply to any industry. 

What technical skills do you think are integral to role?

One of the technical skills that is integral to a VP role is being current with technology in the industry. The younger generation understand it well so staying cutting edge is key to staying ahead of the game. You don’t need to be an expert on every technology, but you need to be familiar with new developments, and you need to hire people who are well versed in the technology that can make a difference in your business. It’s important to stay ahead and understand what separates you from your competition.

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

I think that treating people with integrity and respect is paramount.. People will gravitate towards leaders who treat them well, who give them respect, who are approachable. If you can treat everyone that way, then your circle of influence with increase. 

It is very important to remember that everyone has a human side and has family, friends, a life outside of work to go back to at the end of the day. Try and keep what your colleagues and employees want in front of your mind, rather than purely focusing on what you want. It is the same when negotiating in business – don’t make unilateral deals; try to think about what the other side wants so you can bring them on-side, and reach a compromise. 

All you have in this industry is your name, and the way you conduct yourself will dictate your reputation in the market.

Something else I would emphasize, that ties very closely to reputation and integrity, is taking responsibility for your mistakes. Owners and contractors respect this in the long run.  It helps build trust, which is very hard to come by. Taking chances and learning from some of your mistakes is integral in growing your overall self. Never be afraid to ask questions.  Challenge yourself and don’t ever settle for less.

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

I think that is key and you should always be in continuing education mode. This industry is a never-ending learning process so you should strive to learn something new every day. When you are presented with an opportunity to do or see something different, soak it up. If I know if have access to a job site where they are doing something differently to what I have previously seen, I will force myself to visit it during some spare time or a weekend and have a look around. This will, again, grow your sphere of influence.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I find no greater feeling than when a junior person comes to you with a problem, you reassure them that, irrespective of whose fault it is, it can be resolved, and then you guide them through it. Real leadership is letting those who have a problem know that they aren’t on their own; working collaboratively with people is one of the most rewarding parts of the business. You then watch them from a distance handle that same problem now, on their own, and you’re watching someone grow right in front of you; gaining experience, maturing, etc.

In your opinion, how important is networking?

Huge – as you get older, my world is getting smaller and smaller. I wish I had done more networking when I was younger, so this is one of my regrets. All the relationships with contractors, owners, architects that I have fostered throughout the years are now bearing fruit. Eventually you start to connect with people who know who you are before you’ve even met. 

It all ties back to personality. I look at it like saving money – you don’t appreciate the money you are saving or putting into your 401k in the first few years, but further down the line you see the difference in years of compounding. Networking is exactly the same. A perfect example is when I was interviewed for my role at Bravo. The person interviewing me knew my previous managers, colleagues, sub-contractors etc. and had already reached out to them, so by the time we got to interview, they were willing to hire me on that feedback alone.

Is there anything you would have differently looking back at your career path?

I would have left the larger corporation I was with sooner to pursue other opportunities. Don’t second guess yourself. When you feel it is time to move on to progress, you should follow your instinct. You shouldn’t jump around, but I outlived my stay at the previous company.  There are so many companies out there.  Find the place that you fit it, where you feel you’re accomplishing things and being recognized.  You only get one chance, so make it count.

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

In my previous VP role, the company was such a large size that the title was more of a status symbol. It was a good way of people within the business knowing that you had reached a certain level, and also made a difference to how owners, clients and contractors perceived you. 

My Vice President role at Bravo, though, is more about shaping and guiding company policy, and I have more of an ability to shape the way I want things to happen in the business. I am directly involved in all facets of the business such as pursuing and winning new work – an area I was unable to get access to previously.

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

It takes time. You have to gain the experience and create a reputation which will, ultimately speak for itself. Too many millennials instantly want to be the CEO – you can’t walk into a company and get the top level job after your 1st year; you need to put in the effort and show what you are capable of. There are no shortcuts in life.