Tom Bruister’s father had been a real estate broker for 25 years. He grew up helping him renovate homes, and while it was rewarding providing remodeled homes to new owners, Bruister knew it wasn’t the role for him. “Sometimes, I’d be working on the roof in 110-degree heat,” Bruister recalls, “so I knew I didn’t want to be on the construction side.”
Instead, Bruister pursued roles in the finance industry early on in his professional career. On one hand, he enjoyed the finance realm, but he also missed creating something real—something where he could see the strong impact he was making on peoples’ lives.
That’s when he decided to return to his real estate roots. It didn’t mean, though, that he wasn’t using what he had learned from the finance industry.
Along the way, Bruister obtained valuable knowledge on how to structure corporate deals, manage transactions, collaborate, and negotiate. He also gained experience working with stakeholders, learning their priorities, and understanding how to work with limited resources to deliver the most value possible to an organization.
By 2016, that path led him to Quantcast, which uses big data and machine learning to help marketers develop innovative, unified, and customized solutions.
Starting as the director of global real estate, facilities, and construction management, Bruister recently took on additional responsibilities as director of people acquisition and places. He sat down with American Builders Quarterly to discuss the recent change in his title, the company’s new headquarters, and how both events are strategically tied to the company’s priorities and ongoing success.
Quantcast recently moved into the former headquarters of Twitter. Can you tell me about some of the new features that will help support Quantcast and its team?
We’ve increased our size by one-third compared to the old location. We now have three floors that total 95,000 square feet. There are no cubes and just two private offices. Instead, we’ve created more intimate and collaborative neighborhoods with areas set aside for couches and soft seating, where a group of engineers or members or any of our other teams can informally grab a whiteboard at the spur of the moment to work on a new idea. There are about 250 of those touchdown areas where people
There’s also a town hall that can accommodate 150 people for community gatherings such as announcements from our CEO, team meetings, or tech talks from outside speakers. We built a second-floor lounge that has a very tavern-like feel to it. And, on the technology side, we have conference rooms with integrated video conferencing capabilities like built-in speakers, microphones, and cameras. There are also animated mural walls that add a lot to the overall atmosphere. We worked very closely with our IT team to make sure all of the technology pieces were done right. All in all, every one of the features I mentioned was developed very thoughtfully and specifically to address how our workforce operates.
You’ve also had a change in your title recently. How has that impacted your role at Quantcast?
I still manage the global real estate team, but my scope has been broadened because talent acquisition and recruiting are now part of my responsibilities. Organizing the team that way demonstrates how we view the human component of the company as being directly connected to the physical spaces. By building that perspective into our operations, we can address how people work together and also support and facilitate the efforts of our engineers, product teams, and sales and marketing groups to innovate. It also helps guide us to create exceptional workplace experiences, and that aids in attracting and retaining talent. All of that is reflected in my title, which, quite literally, puts people and places all under one roof.
What does that approach look like on a daily basis?
First, it breaks down silos so that there is no separation between the hiring managers and providing appropriate work spaces. Everything operates more efficiently because there’s such a direct connection between them. From there, we can carry out a strategy that includes working with key stakeholders to understand their needs and priorities. That enables us to gain better insight into the company’s growth trajectory and to adapt the real estate portfolio to place resources more efficiently and effectively.
Can you tell me more about how people acquisition relates to your title?
The way facilities support work styles, general operations, and the creation of positive first impressions is critically important to talent acquisition and to building new business relationships. So, for example, when a potential new hire walks into our headquarters, they are reacting as much to the feel of the space as they are to the people they come in contact with. We moved into our new headquarters in December 2016, and a tremendous amount of thought went into creating an environment that would not only be light, bright, and promote a sense of community and collaboration, but one that would also reflect a successful and mature organization that prides itself on, and is driven by, innovation. We work with a very high bar when it comes to attracting the best talent and high-quality, substantive customers. The new space does a very good job of inviting them in and accurately reflecting who we are as a company.
It sounds as though your new position and title have brought together all your skills, experiences, and priorities.
They really have, especially being able to take on these responsibilities at Quantcast, which is a smaller environment than I’ve worked in in the past—and one that I much prefer. I’m much closer to the business and feel like I can affect the trajectory of the company and add value in a much more direct way. In working on the new headquarters, I met with senior leadership on a weekly basis, and was able to see the plans go from concept and designs on a page to a space where hundreds of people are working and innovating and succeeding—a space that you can see they enjoy and are engaged with. That’s the magical part of what I do—and the piece that I love. I help develop the product and get to experience the value it delivers with a large group of people. It doesn’t get much more tangible or satisfying than that.