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Joseph Rigazio

DNA of a VP of Construction

Joseph Rigazio HeadshotTalisen Construction Corporation was founded by Joseph Rigazio and Robert Knox in 2009. Methodically built through one of the toughest economic periods, Talisen has established itself as a foremost authority in New York construction. Now in our seventh full year of business, our team prides themselves on developing new methods that differentiate us from our competitors with respect to service, communication, and technological processes. Valuing the contribution of every member of the project team guides us in consistently exceeding our client’s expectations. With safety first and a focus on customer advocacy, our aim is to stand out as a true collaborator; turning visions into reality is what we do.

Joseph Rigazio
Principal & CEO
Talisen Construction

Talisen Construction LogoWhat attributes/characteristics do believe are integral to the role?

Beyond technical skills or experience you need to be a leader. There are a lot of different pieces that fit together to make a leader, it’s not just one characteristic. You have to be able to assess and develop employees. Most people can manage a team - assign duties, assess performance - but leading a team is beyond just the operational side. You need to be able to motivate those around you, to inspire them. 

I think employee development is crucial. One of the most satisfying parts of my role is watching people I’ve led excel in their careers. 

Another trait that goes with leadership, and with employee development, is vision. Being the person who doesn’t just execute the plan, but who comes up with it. Seeing the potential in a junior employee. Knowing where your company could go in five or 10 years. That vision of the future is what motivates me, it’s what motivates my team and my company. Having something to aim for is half the battle.

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

I cannot stress communication skills enough. You need to be able to communicate with a wide variety of people, in a wide variety of means. In person, on the phone, email, social media, texting - there are more ways to communicate now than there were when I started in business, and they all matter. The ability to listen is often underappreciated. Half of communication is listening. First make sure you understand what others are trying to tell you, then being able to articulate clearly and concisely to avoid misunderstandings.

Secondly I think everyone needs to develop their business acumen. Do you understand the dollars and cents of your business? Not just of your team or department, but the whole company. How does your area fit into the overall picture? I suggest getting involved in value engineering. Look at your accountabilities and assess the ratio of cost to function. Consider where you can make improvements in efficiency or productivity, and calculate the value that brings to the company. 

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

It’s vital. As I said, you need to know how all the different functions fit together within the organization. Understand each function’s job description, how they are measured, and the mutual dependencies between them. This will make you a better business leader. Even before you reach a senior leadership position, developing this kind of holistic business understanding will make you better at your job because you will understand how you contribute to your colleagues, and how they contribute to your success. 

What is the one thing you have to have to be a VP (or above) of a construction company in your opinion? 

Ethics are important in this business. You have to walk the talk. Consistency and transparency are particularly important to me. When you’re a business leader, a people leader, your message has to be clear and you have to be able to scale that message as your company grows. Ask yourself: “What do I stand for? What does my company stand for?” and if you should be able to answer it in one sentence. That’s your compass. Reward people who embody that in their daily professional lives. 

In your opinion, how important is social media for networking/helping one achieve their career goals?

On a scale of one to 10 I would say it’s a seven. It’s important to stay connected to people within the industry and social media is one tool for that. If you don’t use any online tools already you should prioritize this and develop your online networking brand. In some ways construction is still a “who you know” industry and your reputation is important. Your online presence can connect you with more people so next time you’re hiring or looking for work or building client relationships it gives you a firm foundation.

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

1. Know your company’s mission and what they stand for. A lot of people talk about values but few live by them. Find a company that lives their values and embrace them, embody them. This will give you a core mission to motivate you, and that you can rely on to guide you.

2. 40 hours a week is your job. Every hour past 40 should be an investment in your career. If that additional time is adding value, be happy with that. If it’s not then you need to ask yourself why you’re putting in that time and what you’re going to get out of it.