Scott Levitan, the new CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation which oversees the RTP, is walking into an extreme challenge: Implementing the strategic plan calling for the utter transformation of the Park. And he’s eager to get started. In an exclusive conversation, Levitan talks about the plan, why he took the job, and much more.
The Foundation announced Levitan’s hiring on Tuesday.
- What’s your timeline for starting to deliver results?
It is too early for me to begin making promises–over the next 90 days I will be drinking from the proverbial “fire hose” learning and evaluating as much as I can. My first goal is to connect with and meet as many of our stakeholders across the community as possible.
- Are you daunted at all by the scope of the RTP plan?
Not so much daunted as energized—we have a strong Board of Directors and committed Staff that have been working on this vision and plan for a while now. It’s now time to pull together and begin to execute.
- What are the key strengths you believe that you bring to the position? I would think your experience in Baltimore with the growth of that mixed use project at Johns Hopkins over time seems to mesh well with what RTP is trying to do here.
I am most interested in transformational development—taking an underused property and creating something visionary that has a positive impact on the community and area.
Every project is unique and success depends on listening to stakeholders and determining a collective, feasible strategy. It’s never an easy, straight-forward process – but I enjoy working with stakeholders and partners to solve big challenges and create “win-wins” for everyone involved.
- Given your work experience as well as your tenure at Georgia Tech, how familiar were you with RTP, its history, and its new strategic plan before you accepted this position? How has RTP’s success over the years influenced you (if at all) in your career across similar campus developments?
Having worked with research parks for most of my career, The Research Triangle Park has always been a shining example, the standard to which research parks aspire.
Much of RTP’s success over the years has been due to its close work with its neighboring universities and economic development partners. This type of collaboration is similar to what we did in Atlanta with Georgia Tech and most recently in Baltimore with Johns Hopkins.
- What are the top reasons you decided to accept the RTP position?
The RTP has a wonderful, reputation across the globe. Its impact on North Carolina’s economy over the past half century has been unparalleled. But there is a wonderful opportunity here to unlock even more potential in the Park and create an even larger economic impact on the state.
I think with the ingredients we’ve got here–our team’s combined experience, the support of the Board of Directors, the Master Plan work that has been done to this point, and our committed partners, there is no reason why we can’t create an even larger impact over the next 50 years.
- Were you approached by a recruiting firm or did you apply for the job?
I was approached by Patti Gillenwater, the CEO of Elinvar, an executive search and leadership development firm in Raleigh. Patti, the RTF staff and Board conducted a very creative and informative process.
I feel well primed to understand the priorities, opportunities and promise for RTP’s future.