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Paul Gingold

DNA of a VP of Construction

Paul Gingold HeadshotWith 25 years of New York City construction experience, Paul Gingold leads CMA’s New Business and Pre Construction Services Team. He combines his understanding of the New York market, planning ingenuity, and construction expertise to deliver superior results for clients in the tri-state area. Paul began his career at the NYC Department of Parks Recreation, Capital Projects Division, moving on to the Restoration of Historic Grand Central Terminal, and the New York Public Library.  This was followed by leading several successful project teams in various Hotel, Institutional, and Residential Projects around NYC.  Working with CMA for almost 5 years, he and his team have had the opportunity to deliver many outstanding projects.  He he strives to maintain relationships throughout the life cycle of the project.  His ultimate goal is the satisfied client and repeat business.

Paul Gingold
Vice President
CM & Associates

CMLogoHave you always aspired to becoming a VP of a construction company?

I wouldn’t say I always specifically aspired to be a VP but I always aspired to build good jobs. The perks of being a VP is that I get to see a project from start to finish and that I can be involved in multiple projects at once. Overseeing that bigger picture has its challenges, but it’s also more rewarding when it all comes together.

Was construction always your career path?

I’ve wanted to be in construction my whole life. From digging in the backyard, to playing with Lego, to being a carpenter in College. It’s what I studied at college so I went straight from graduation into the business. 

Have you ever second guessed your career path?

Yes, when I was a project manager and still learning on the ropes. I think it’s normal at that stage of your career. You’re not an expert yet and your career path can seem daunting or unclear. I was lucky, I had some really good mentors. I had some fairly intense learning situations – which were especially challenging at the time, but once I had gotten through them it showed me that I had the ability to succeed in this industry. These mistakes and learning experiences made me a better, more supportive manager and team leader here at CM & Associates. 

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

Balancing competing priorities and opinions is often a challenge. In the past I’ve seen a team end up accommodating one person’s vision rather than finding what might be the best solution for the project or company. 

You always try to communicate your thoughts and reasons, but it can be hard to do. At CM & Associates we’re very conscious of welcoming ideas from every level and I personally have an open door and open mind policy. We have an extremely good attrition rate here. We rarely have anyone leave once they come here and I think a lot of that is to do with the culture that we’ve created. We want everyone to feel that their ideas and insights are valued.

What technical skills do you think are integral?

I think there are different skills at each level, but I would sum it up as overseeing your domain. Take responsibility for what you oversee, no matter your level. As a junior person, you should know the drawings better than anyone. At the mid-level you should know all the major components of the project, all the moving pieces. As the senior manager, you’re running the ship. You have to have a good grasp on your group. You need to know that the different people that are in charge of the different parts of the project are doing their job.

What do you believe is integral to the leadership role?

You need to have that open door policy. There are a lot of people that are moving up the ladder and you have to invite them into the conversation. If your company is growing then soon they will be at the table, making decisions, and if you haven’t let them in on how those decisions get made then you won’t get the best out of them. Every scenario has alternatives, there’s rarely a situation that has only one right answer. Challenge your teams to bring you new ideas, ask them tough questions, encourage them to challenge your decisions. They’ll start thinking like leaders, and you might get some new ideas that will improve how you do business. 

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

Return phone calls. If a junior person asks a question, answer it. Someday down the line when you’re old, that guy or girl may end up being your boss. The worst thing is when younger people feel like they don’t matter or aren’t being heard. They should be heard and should feel like they matter. Anyone who thinks that progressing means leaving the junior employees behind isn’t ready for management.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

The excitement of getting new business up and running. You’re helping the owner make the decision to invest $50 to $60 million in this new project. It’s like buying a new house – everyone is excited and it’s my job to make sure everything goes smoothly. That’s what I’m best at and I enjoy it. 

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

I think it comes down to trust and responsibility. People need to be about to trust you and know that you’re accountable. If someone on my team makes a mistake, that comes back to me and I take responsibility for that. The client might come back and say “Paul, you said it was going to cost X, so why this big change order?” Now I don’t do the take offs, but that comes back to me, so it’s my problem. My team is me, and I’m in the position to take that responsibility. How you handle it next will depend on the situation, but your team and your client need to know that you’ll step up and deal directly with the problem.

In your opinion, how important is networking? 

Networking is very important. If you meet one good person, they can introduce you to ten new people. Those ten new people could bring ten more people each. Sometimes people mistake networking with making friends. I have some great friends in the industry, but even if you don’t get along with someone, you still need to respect them and maintain a professional relationship.  

It’s played a huge role in my career and my business. Owners may give us projects without bidding, sub contractors like us they’re willing to give us a good price without an aggravation tax, architects recommend us as a group. That’s not luck. That’s about connections and reputation. Eventually the market will slow down. When that happens there will still be some developers that keep building. We want to be the guys they come to at that time. When the music stops, we want a chair to sit on.  

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

I would say ten years ago, people at my level were much more closed off to the company. There was an unnecessary hierarchy in many companies where the senior people were unreachable or unapproachable. 

My generation, or at least here ar CMA, we do things differently. I always encourage an open dialogue environment where no one is too intimidated to discuss their ideas or opinions. We just want to get the job done as best as possible. Everyone rolls up their sleeves. If I have to sit here and do a take-off, I’ll do it. I write scopes still or makes copies, if I have to.  

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

I think it all comes down to two things: be responsible and maintain relationships. The industry has been around forever. The guys that have been and are successful, are the ones that keep responsibility and maintain relationships. The ones that aren’t doing that aren’t successful. Do what you say and say what you do.