Gilman Partners Launches Real Estate & Economic Development Practice

October 11, 2016 –

Executive search firm Gilman Partners has formed a new commercial real estate / economic development recruiting practice led by partner Karen Finan. Ms. Finan joined Gilman Partners after a career with Duke Realty Corporation and Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (Tri-ED). 

After years of conducting local and regional searches in the sector, the firm decided to formalize the practice, and now plans to expand its services throughout the Midwest and to Southeast. It will continue to focus on mid to upper management positions in areas related to commercial real estate development, construction and economic development, including ancillary industries like architecture and engineering.

Fortified with an extensive background in a variety of industries, Ms. Finan led new economic development efforts at Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corporation. She previously directed national marketing and new business efforts at Duke Realty Corporation and Duke Construction.

She will leverage her affiliations with organizations including the Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC) and Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW). She will also maintain her role within the search firm’s non-profit practice and will continue in her overall responsibilities for business development. She is the board chair for the region’s leading female entrepreneurial organization, Bad Girl Ventures (BGV), and was recently appointed to the board of Tri-ED.

Downturn Leads to Opportunity  

“The commercial real estate downturn several years ago forced many long-time professionals out of the industry,” said Ms. Finan. “As economic development and real estate rebound, organizations are finding it more challenging than ever to fill mid to senior level positions. Our extensive industry and business expertise provide clients value throughout the hiring process.”

Gilman Partners has placed several leadership roles in the space, including a CFO, a regional president, CRE development leader, and a property manager within a variety of public- and private-sector businesses and organizations.  

It is no secret that the real estate market has suffered in certain locales over the last several years. Improvements within the industry are evident, but there is still a dire need for executive talent in the real estate field, say recruiters — namely, executives who’ve been through the last downturn but who now have a vision for more prosperous times ahead.

According to the 2016 ‘Real Estate Hiring Forecast’ report released by recruiters Ferguson Partners, 93 percent of the largest real estate companies either forecast an increase in hiring or maintaining their same level of hiring. In prior years, there was much higher demand for executives who could either invest or raise capital. This year’s report found much more of a focus on individuals who can drive value and cash flow in assets.

Gilman Partners serves clients throughout the Midwest from its Cincinnati headquarters and its Chicago office. Many of its clients are family owned or privately held. Of the senior leaders placed by Gilman Partners, 96 percent are still with the same organization three years later, according to the latest statistics provided by the firm.

Recent Expansion

Gilman Partners’ commercial real estate & economic development offering is the second practice area launched by the firm in recent months. Gilman formed a non-profit leadership practice led by partner Barry Elkus as well as Ms. Finan. They work with non-profit organizations to identify, screen, and attract talent for mission critical roles including CEO, COO, CFO, executive director, and chief development officer. Mr. Elkus and Ms. Finan have led more than a dozen searches for key leadership roles since 2015 and have experience working with boards and search committees to attract talent from the business and non-profit communities. 

In September, Gilman Partners added Debra Savage to specialize in accounting and finance searches with a focus on CFO, controller, human resources and strategic planning roles. She has more than 30 years of experience with companies that include Deloitte, Ursuline Academy of Cincinnati, and Sirrus. Ms. Savage has herself held several senior level leadership roles, including CFO, controller, director of HR, and business manager. 

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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