Lessons My Clients Taught Me

…And how those lessons turned me from a project manager to an owner’s representative

My two career passions: working with firms who are using cutting edge scientific discovery to create products that make people’s lives better, and planning and managing the creation of new or expanded environments for our partners and clients to thrive in.

My first assignment when I moved from the UK to Cambridge was with a burgeoning biotechnology firm. I worked with them to plan and build their headquarters near Kendall Square, and many projects followed as they grew over the next decade. I collaborated with the most interesting people, fueled by a desire to take our understanding of genetics deeper, finding therapies that could change people’s lives. Once exposed to that, I was hooked and needed to know and learn everything I could.

Since then I have worked on and delivered many life science projects for a myriad of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies (as well as client-partners in many other industries) and have gained a deeper understanding of the challenges these clients face. Along the way, this is what I’ve learned from them:

Understand your client’s business

What is their mission, their product and who will benefit from it? Know their operational goals and understand how to achieve alignment. A strategic advisor needs to delve deep into the day-to-day rewards and challenges that the client encounters. The best way to represent the owner in their real estate initiative is to have a firm knowledge of the scientific and technical requirements of the business. As Owner’s Reps, we pride ourselves on quickly gaining a thorough understanding of our client’s facilities and operational needs – regardless of the sector or market that client is in.

Ensure that your client is set up for success and protected

Commitment to deliver on commercial and legal diligence during the setup of design and construction contracts is paramount. Using our experience to guide the compilation of contracts, insurances and budgets, we look out for our client’s best interests. These things are totally un-sexy in the realm of design and construction, but I’ve learned that clients want a representative that puts those at the forefront of the project’s delivery, giving them peace of mind that you will see them through to the finish line.  

Don’t Be Afraid to Be a Disrupter

Our clients work on the cutting edge of technology and innovation, their spaces should reflect that. Bring the owner’s vision to the forefront of design and apply the same spirit of innovation to project execution. Enable the design and construction team the latitude to present new ideas and techniques.

Be there at the start

They only way to fully protect your owner is to be involved in operational, financial and timeline planning from the very beginning. We need to be excellent communicators and facilitators – understanding the needs and challenges of the design and construction team, and bringing those to the Owner, while also ensuring the Owner’s needs are fully appreciated by the project execution team. Become a diplomatic go-between who is respected and trusted by both sides.

An Owner’s Rep knows the world of design and construction inside and out. We know the process and the players, as well as the obligations of the core members of a development team. We also know contract types and project delivery methodologies – so from lease through procurement of the architect, contractor and other vendors, the Owner’s Rep guides the owner and provides the expertise to successfully set up the commercial aspects of the project at the front- end.

An Owner’s Representative is a valuable resource and advocate – years of experience leads to expertise – but truly seasoned veterans know that some of the best lessons will be learned from their clients.


Patrick Gallagher has well over 25 years of experience in the design and construction industry. He founded Hereva in 2014 inspired by a commitment to bringing a strategic project planning and management approach to businesses undertaking new or expanded commercial real estate initiatives.


Hereva is a consultancy providing dynamic leadership, technical knowledge and experience in representing clients on new projects and/or facilities expansion. Founded in project management methodology, with on-going education and training, and real-world experience in delivering projects, Hereva brings leadership and accountability to all phases of a project. We are inspired by the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of our clients and are committed to representing their interests.