CEO on Leadership: Joseph Stettinius, Jr., CEO of the Americas, DTZ
By: Ron Derven, contributing editor, Development
Insights from the new Americas leader of DTZ and former CEO of Cassidy Turley, which merged with DTZ earlier this year.
FORMER CEO OF Cassidy Turley, Joseph Stettinius, Jr. became chief executive of the Americas for the global property services firm DTZ on January 5, 2015, following the completion of the acquisition of Cassidy Turley by a private equity investment consortium backed by TPG Capital, PAG Asia Capital and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. This consortium acquired DTZ in November 2014. The combination of Cassidy Turley and DTZ “creates a global top-three commercial real estate services company,” according to the firm. Cassidy Turley brings a legacy of strong local market leadership and penetration in the U.S., while DTZ offers an established full-service global platform. The combined company has 260 offices in 50 countries, represents $2.9 billion in annual revenues, has more than 28,000 employees and manages 3.3 billion square feet of space.
Development: Would you tell us about your background? How did you get into real estate and how did you join Cassidy Turley?
Stettinius: My first job in real estate was purchasing agent for a hotel developer. After a year on the job, I realized that I loved real estate and the service business, but that there were huge capital requirements to be in the hotel business. I decided to focus instead on an area where I did not have to raise or control a lot of capital. I went to work for what was then Jones Lang Wootten as an analyst. I worked there for five years, learning about investment sales, valuation and the leasing business.
In 1994, I went to work for Trammell Crow, where I became one of the firm’s top-producing leasing agents. In 2003, the company reorganized, making commercial real estate services instead of development its core business, and went public. I was picked to lead its mid-Atlantic region, which I managed for several years. Around the time that CBRE purchased Trammell Crow, I was offered the position of CEO at Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers in Washington, D.C. I was excited about the chance to be part of a highly regarded local boutique that could be grown and diversified in terms of service lines and clients.
In 2008, four firms — Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers, Colliers Turley Martin Tucker in the central U.S., Colliers Pinkard in Baltimore and Colliers ABR in New York City — consolidated into one to form Cassidy Turley, a national, full-service firm that acquired additional commercial real estate services companies. Cassidy Turley launched in May 2010. By 2012, we saw that a critical next step was to go global. We looked at our options as we continued to build Cassidy Turley.
Development: Cassidy Turley has been a highly sought-after company. What made DTZ the appropriate “partner” for you?
Stettinius: We wanted the ability to grow a global platform that was agnostic of geography so that we could serve our clients wherever they wanted. We discovered DTZ, which had a strong presence in Europe and Asia, but a relatively small presence in the U.S. outside of its facilities management business. We thought that the two companies would make a great combination because there was not a lot of overlap.
Private equity ownership by the TPG-led consortium was also appealing because it represented sophisticated capital. TPG Capital and its partners, PAG Asia Capital and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, form a world-class investment consortium that gives us both exposure to and an understanding of China and, indeed, all of Asia. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is one of the most revered pension funds in the world. All of a sudden, we have a solid partner to help the new DTZ grow through acquisitions and adding top talent in the geographies that are important to our clients. We have three investors who are not only fluent in our industry, but also fluent in the cultures that are growing most quickly around the world. Candidly, access to capital has a halo effect on our business.
Development: According to the press release announcing the merger, the combined company will be named DTZ. Why DTZ and not Cassidy Turley, which is better known in the U.S.?
Stettinius: Cassidy Turley had about 4,000 people who carried that brand. DTZ had about 24,000. Further, DTZ is one of the oldest and most respected brands in our industry, so the decision was made that the DTZ brand would survive, the Cassidy Turley brand would “sunset” and we would all effectively come together in a new company with an old name, old roots and an old culture.
Development: What will the merger mean for employees?
Stettinius: One of the key reasons for doing this is to create new opportunities for employees and to create better, deeper services for our clients. The vast majority of our employees will have more opportunities and more options going forward. I do not think it will impact them dramatically, except that they will have new business cards.
Development: Could you provide an update on your work with Tod Lickerman and Brett White to “develop a plan to integrate the Americas business and create an innovative market-leading platform”?
Stettinius: Tod and I have worked closely together as our teams have worked to create systems and integrate processes. From a chemistry perspective, that relationship has been tremendous. Tod remains DTZ’s global CEO, and I am now chief executive of the Americas. Brett, formerly CEO of CBRE Group, will become executive chairman in March. Regional leadership in the Americas includes Mike Kamm, U.S. West; Dean Mueller, U.S. Central; Guillermo Sepulveda, Mexico/Latin America; and Colin Ross, Canada. (U.S. East leadership is still to be announced.) Our global headquarters is in Chicago, and our Americas headquarters is now located in Washington, D.C. We will build a company that can compete and win anywhere in the world, anywhere in the industry.
Development: How will your leadership of the Americas with DTZ differ from your leadership of Cassidy Turley in the U.S.?
Stettinius: The simplistic view would be to say that DTZ in Europe and Asia are virtually unchanged, and DTZ in the Americas becomes what was Cassidy Turley. The reality is that we are doing a top-to-bottom analysis of the business to make it incredibly relevant for the opportunities that we see in 2015 and beyond.
Development: During your first year as chief executive of the Americas, where do you believe you will invest most of your time?
Stettinius: There will be a lot of focus internally on consistent processes and systems, so that we can communicate effectively as a single team across geographies. Equally as important is an external focus on clients and understanding where we have the opportunity to deliver more or better services. Our whole organizational structure is being designed so that all of us can get closer to the business and to the clients and have more impact on their success.
Development: What do you look for when hiring senior leadership?
Stettinius: This is one of the most important responsibilities of my role. I look for people who are a cultural fit. Naturally, the person needs to have the talent, capability and bandwidth for whatever the position might be. I also look for people who can play multiple roles or move among roles that are important in our business. I place a premium on fact-based decision making and the ability to make the right decisions quickly. Great communications skills are also critical. And I value leadership skills: Although management skills are important in our industry, leadership skills are the differentiator.
Development: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned over the course of your real estate career?
Stettinius: The most valuable lesson I have learned is to set goals. The goals you set need to be aspirational goals, because once you have set them, it is amazing how often you can reach them.