BY PARTNER INSIGHTS JUNE 5, 2020 12:58 PM
Lehrer Cumming, a division of Cumming, is an owner’s advisory firm providing project and cost management, and strategic guidance to owners, developers, and institutions in and around New York City, New Jersey, Boston, Washington, D.C., and South Florida. Commercial Observer’s Partner Insights team sat down with Gavin Middleton, Chief Operating Officer at Lehrer Cumming to discuss how he got started in the industry as well as the impact of women in the industry.
Commercial Observer Partner Insights: Who has had the greatest influence on your career, and why?
Gavin Middleton: My father. He was a well-respected electrician who installed fire alarms and security systems for as long as I can remember growing up. One evening after work he taught me how to read blueprints and from that moment on, I was intrigued by the world of construction. With this early interest in construction, I soon realized how fortunate I was to grow up in Glasgow, Scotland, a city with a long-standing tradition of producing some of the best architects and builders, and home to many of the top technical schools in the country. While in school, I was taken under the wing of an Irish Quantity Surveyor who helped hone my professional communication skills and approach to solving complex problems. After all of these years, I still refer back to those impactful teachable moments with my mentor almost every day of my career.
How did you get your start in the industry, and what were some initial obstacles you faced?
Middleton: I emigrated to Montreal, Canada shortly after finishing my undergraduate program in Scotland. While I was excited about my new life in Canada, I set out to tackle learning the bilingual construction environment where both French and English were equally used in most professional settings. While the language barriers were big adjustments initially, over time I settled into my job and soon became interested in the entire development process. Before I knew it, I was headed down a path to learn more about deal structures and investment objectives.
How has the growing number of women impacted the industry and what advice would you give the next generation?
Middleton: The growing number of women in the industry has significantly impacted the world of construction and development. Many of the industry-leading females I currently work with have entered the construction industry after starting a career in design education of one form or another. These women all exhibit tenacity, strong attention to detail, confidence in their ability, and provide a much-needed fresh and balanced perspective. Historic gender barriers have been torn down in recent years, and the construction industry as a whole is greatly better off as a result. My primary piece of advice would be to consider your career objectives and seek out those in the industry that can truly mentor, nurture, and encourage your growth. This is a very small industry and your career will be greatly enhanced by having effective managers at each stage of your advancement.
Join Gavin Middleton and other CRE professionals at the 4th Annual Women in Real Estate Forum on June 16, 2020. Click here for more information.