Juniper Networks at a Glance
Manufacturing networking products and equipment
You’ve said understanding a business’s finances and its budget is important to project development. How has this helped you at Juniper?
Troy Ward: Working at a high-growth company, which Juniper is, we are continually focused on driving improved execution in the business. This places tight control on operating costs. When I joined Juniper, the company had been sitting on an 80-acre parcel in need of renovation and with potential for new construction. But as a young, fast-growing business, we couldn’t afford to make costly missteps. Calling on my past experiences; applying that experience to understand the business direction and needs; establishing relationships and collaborating with my finance support/procurement team, treasury group, and experts in the tax, legal, and fixed-assets departments, we forecast our expenses and came up with a plan to efficiently prepare the company to develop a multimillion dollars’ worth of facilities in two years.
Is your project-development team in-house or contracted?
TW: I think it’s important to keep a base of subject-matter experts aligned with the company culture. I have a small team inside of Juniper made up of two project managers and three operations staff members. As projects are approved and exceed the capacity of the internal team, we hire third-party subject-matter experts. This allows us to remain flexible and nimble to quickly supplement-to-scale a team so that, as the project’s demands change, we only incur expenses for as long as is necessary. I have utilized both this model and a larger in-house team, and I’ve found a lean staff affords you more manageable control over operating costs. With the pressure to maximize growth with minimum costs that this industry places upon us, this model allows the most flexibility and efficiency of operating budget.
What advice would you give a director of real estate looking to form the best in-house team?
TW: When assembling your in-house team, look for attributes that complement your business needs and your industry characteristics. My team comprises people that have experience with projects and operations similar to Juniper’s scale or larger. My project managers are experts in Juniper’s industry. So when we build general office space that also includes specialized, lab-specific space, our team is familiar with those unique specifications, helping us avoid mistakes and wasted resources in a very capital-intensive project.
How would you describe your management style, and why has it been successful for you and your team at Juniper?
TW: My management style is defined by information sharing and communication. An example is sharing access to budgetary information with my team. I’ve seen other managers that hold all the numbers while their staff doesn’t have the slightest idea of the limit of their resources. I prefer to empower my team with information so [that] they can be proactive in self-correcting and problem solving. Often this empowerment leads to even more creative and cost-saving ideas.
What is the most important thing for a director of real estate to remember when making the case for a project to C-Suite executives?
TW: Typically, large capital projects will need to go through the CFO, CEO, and to the board of directors for approval. It’s important to lay the groundwork with the finance controllers, treasury, and tax departments. Understand the cost impact from a cash, net-present-value, and profit-and-loss basis. Investigate any other options that may be available and vet them in comparison to the project being considered for approval. Stay agile and flexible to changing business needs by continually sounding the company’s forecasting. Socialize the concept in advance to gain understanding and consensus.
Sustainability is a commitment Juniper has made in all of its new construction, and it’s a growing trend in commercial development. How would you advise a director to become informed on sustainability?
TW: As the sustainability industry changes and more products and methods come along, directors of real estate will have to be able to adapt. There are certification programs to become educated. I attend presentations by local groups that are talking about renewable, sustainable energy sources and smart-grid apps. It’s like picking up a magazine or doing a Google search. If you have an interest in something, do your own research. I don’t think the field has completely matured yet, so being diligent and continuing your education—whether formally through college courses or informally—are key. ABQ