In this executive Q&A, Kent Elliott, principal at RETS Associates, a leading national real estate recruiting firm, and Amy D’Olimpio, vice president of human resources at Regency Centers, a grocery-anchored retail center owner, operator and developer, discuss the advisory partnership that developed between the two companies for recruiting. D’Olimpio dives deep into Regency’s hiring approach and success as the organization has rebuilt its teams over the past seven years.
Kent Elliott (KE): Please describe Regency Centers’ current activity on the West Coast.
Amy D’Olimpio (AD): We are currently focused on developing and redeveloping our portfolio by looking at the merchandising, placemaking and connecting mix of each property, through our Fresh Look® strategy. We’ve hired an architect and a mixed-use development expert in our Los Angeles office to responsibly address the experiential elements of our properties nationally.
KE: Since working with a recruiting firm like RETS, what have been the most important contributions that the relationship has made to your recruiting process?
AD: I have a long history in human resources and have realized in the last few years that working with the right recruiting firm brings more value to the table than just qualified candidates. In addition to providing top talent, we rely on the expertise of a partner like RETS to keep us informed about what is going on in the market, advise us on recalibrating compensation packages, provide tips on how to best market the organization to recruit top talent, and more. We want an extra set of eyes and ears in the marketplace that will candidly advises us on all things hiring and retention. For me, it’s much more than recruiting – it’s a relationship that supports our corporate growth nationwide.
KE: Please describe your company culture and how it drives your recruiting efforts in today’s CRE landscape.
AD: Our founders always placed a priority on culture when hiring for any position in the company. Our current CEO, and son of the founders, places the same value on culture and inspires our entire team to hire for character. For us, it’s not just about the candidate’s alma mater or accomplishments. With this in mind, we have an in-depth hiring process that begins with a definitive job description, an assessment of internal leaders who may grow into the position, and close collaboration with RETS for the remainder of the process. Once the firm presents us with a panel of well-matched candidates, we narrow the selection to the top two or three and bring them back for a behavioral assessment that will shape questions a hiring manager will ask in a second interview. These questions are specifically catered to each candidate and are meant to uncover how he or she functions in the workplace, how social or accommodating he or she is, and more. Beyond that, a couple key team members may take the top candidate to breakfast or lunch to observe interpersonal behavior. We deeply care about how our employees interact with others and want to ensure we all have the same values and goals.
It may appear to be a long process, but by executing each search step-by-step and having the knowledge from a recruiting partner, we have built excellent teams nationwide.
KE: Please tell me more about the outcome of this type of search process and the impact it’s had on the growth of Regency?
AD: Coming out of the recession, we began rebuilding our teams in 2009 with RETS as a partner in the process. The collaboration with them has built stronger teams because the candidates have been on point with our values, vision and requirements. Without the guidance from a partner like RETS, we were throwing darts. The process and investment has proven itself when you see the results. We have employees who have been with us since 2009 and have endured the competitive war for talent that the commercial real estate industry is experiencing. With each new hire, we have found our “match” and laid the foundation for a long-term relationship. These recent mid‑level hires are excelling in their careers, getting promoted, and helping us build a stronger company. We believe that these recent hires will remain with us for many years to come. Through these experiences over the last seven years, RETS has become a trusted extension of our support team. That is the most important piece to the puzzle and the reason why it works.