David Gialanella has his work cut out for him. But where some might describe a challenge, he insists on using the word opportunity.
“I think our tagline right now, unfortunately, is we’re the least-known biggest company in the industry,” the newly-appointed head of DTZ in the New York Tri-State region told Real Estate Weekly.
Sitting in his office in the Time and Life Building on Sixth Avenue, Gialanella rattled off statistics about his new employer: Two billion dollars in revenue. Offices around the world. Hundreds of global corporate accounts. More than 40,000 employees. “To have all of that without having brand recognition in a major market is pretty unique,” he said.
DTZ is far from a household name in New York, but its origins can be traced to England in the 1700’s. The Australian company UGL acquired DTZ in 2011, part of a string of acquisition that included the Chicago-based Equis Corporation in 2006 and the Boston-based facilities services business, Unicco Service Company, in 2007. Last year, UGL’s property services business and DTZ were re-branded as ‘DTZ, a UGL company’, and DTZ will soon be listed independently on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Gialanella hails from Newark, but he feels at home in a company with world-wide reach.
After a stint in corporate consulting and a brief flirtation with the world of politics in Washington, D.C., he started his real estate career at Cushman & Wakefield in the 1980s, where he was part of the team that arranged C&W’s merger with the British firm, Healey & Baker.
After 20 years with C&W he moved on to CBRE, where he stayed for seven years and held a number of roles, starting out as head of the Global Corporate Services transaction management business.
Looking back on his career so far, he said, “What stands out is watching the industry change… Particularly in the early years at C&W, watching it go from an industry that couldn’t spell the word global, to an industry that really is build upon globalization and the ability to build global platforms.”
There was a moment of clarity, he said, when he was having dinner with Healey & Baker’s senior partner. They were using different terms and language, the challenges and goals of the businesses were the same.
“Whether you’re running a real estate business in London or Paris or Hong Kong or the U.S., it’s about people, it’s about technology, it’s about systems, it’s about information, it’s about managing across those verticals, it’s about managing client relationships, it’s about the people interaction with that,” he said. “Anywhere in the universe I think you could have that.”
Gialanella’s plan is to make DTZ’s New York office a new hub for the company’s operations around the world. “We’ll be the go-to resource for our clients in other parts of the world who need access to the capital and intellect of New York,” he said. They’ll not be the largest brokerage in the city, he said, but they are recruiting talent, with an eye towards subject area expertise. Currently there are about 55 people in the New York office and 15 in New Jersey. Six months from now, Gialanella said, that number might be over 100.
In his free time, Gialanella plays the electric bass, jamming and even recording with musician friends he’s known since elementary and high school years.
“I grew up wanting to be Bruce Springsteen,” he said.
Gialanella still lives in New Jersey, in Westfield. He has two grown sons. His wife, Kathleen, is a health care attorney. For a year between leaving CBRE and starting with DTZ, Gialanella worked with his wife to start a new company providing continuing education for nursing professionals.
He has an easy laugh, and frequently mentions his colleagues and mentors from his time at C&W and CBRE — the relationships that have helped him along the way. “I consider myself to be a really lucky guy,” he said.
“Success; you make it, you work at it, but some of it is luck. And I like to think I did really well on the luck factor… I wish I could say I was the smartest guy in the world and had it all planned out. I didn’t.”