Early in Ryan Magnuson’s career, he discovered that growing within a company does not always mean moving up the ladder. He started as a real estate analyst for McDonald’s Corporation, but was willing to learn and grow in his position to become an expert at real estate development.
Wanting to test his skills in various environments while working with different stakeholder groups, Magnuson seized any opportunity to move laterally to take on slightly different responsibilities in different parts of the US. Over a 12-year period, he moved swiftly across and up the ladder to eventually to help lead a centralized construction procurement team for the colossal brand.
At McDonald’s, Magnuson oversaw projects to build, renovate, and maintain restaurants across the country; expanded the growth and revenue of the company; and became adept at pinpointing recurring problems in the industry then strategizing methods to fix them accordingly. His discovery while using these tactics was that most projects embody the same challenges, which taught him how to adequately approach any undertaking and—most importantly—to always expect the unexpected.
Magnuson’s decision to move to the University of Chicago Medicine (UCMC) was inspired by an avidity to work closely with his community and touch the lives of the people he interacts with daily. He also wanted the opportunity to channel his personal experiences with healthcare to deliver optimal services to other affected community members through his work.
“UCMC has such strong roots in the Chicago community, specifically on the South Side, and I wanted to get in a position where I could make my work more immediately tangible—do something that affects my neighbors and my community and improves my immediate surroundings,” he explains. “I wanted to improve the lives of patients, caregivers, and family members to alleviate the stresses that come with these periods of our lives.”
As he moved into his new role as director of real estate procurement and contracting at UCMC, he was tasked with managing the organization’s facilities and the portfolios of each division under UCMC’s umbrella. His most recent undertaking has been leading the site selection and negotiation efforts of the organization’s newest care center in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. The goal in building the center was to deliver a patient-centered facility that relocated existing clinics currently located in downtown Chicago to a more visible and accessible space, while providing the medical center with more real estate to expand its service offerings.
“This is our first foray into an urgent care in the River East,” Magnuson says, referring to Chicago’s emerging neighborhood, located in between the Loop and Streeterville along the Chicago River. “We’ll be able to provide care for people on a daily basis and use our design as a way to heighten our patient experience by changing the expectation created by traditional medical offices from check-in all the way to the exam room.
“I wanted to improve the lives of patients, caregivers, and family members to alleviate the stresses that come with these periods of our lives.”
Magnuson believes that it is important for companies to consider their facilities as a driver of their strategic plan. During his previous work in the retail industry, he learned the impact that a clear location strategy and branded design had on customers and potential customers. This principle becomes more relevant in his current work as he works with his team to match the facility to Chicago’s vibrant, dynamic culture.
By early 2020, the Center will be open to welcome guests from all walks of life that congregate daily in downtown Chicago. Throughout the building process of this massive project, Magnuson has used his 16 years of real estate experience to stay attentive to the details of the development while providing focus to the project team as it heads toward the Center’s opening.
While it is vital to pay attention to the minutiae involved in each process, Magnuson reminds his team that every move they make must be relevant and beneficial—they must assign value to everything.
“As a development person, I think of facilities not just as physical assets, but as something that delivers strategic goals of the organization,” he says. “It is important to be purposeful with a design, especially for a public space. We seek to ensure that every improvement we’re putting into our space is thoughtful, so we can provide return on investment to the organization and prompt our guests to create a positive perception.”
Despite the complexities that come with any big project, Magnuson says that finding and celebrating small, everyday wins are the most rewarding aspects of his job. When the Center officially opens, UCMC will share the Care Center as a creation crafted by hundreds of priceless details that will grant thousands an exceptional experience.