Today, Sammy Soliman is exactly where he’s meant to be – working in the construction sector. Even as a young boy, it was all he wanted to do. “My father was an engineer and builder, and ever since I was a child, I can remember always wanting to follow in his footsteps,” he grins.
“While I was on school holidays, I’d go with him to work, nagging him about what I could do to help.” From those formative years spent observing his dad onsite and behind the scenes, Sammy’s love for the industry only increased, so that once he was faced with the decision about which career he’d pursue, the answer was obvious.
After completing his Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Technology Sydney, he leapt headfirst into the industry. “I’ve been involved with the property construction sector for more than 30 years now,” Sammy says.
“I started my career as a structural engineer and have had broad experience in the construction sector, property development, as well as investments and asset management.
My project portfolio extends across award-winning hotels, large developments and large-scale, high-rise developments.” And there’s no denying he made the right choice all those years ago. Sammy tells The CEO Magazine that his passion has only increased over time.
“I’ve always loved the industry, the challenges we face daily and how we address those obstacles really drives me,” he says.
It might sound like a cliche, but our culture is really not like any other – everybody in the team genuinely cares about the business and each other.
“No one day is the same, that’s for sure! And in challenging moments, you really see the best in people come out. One of the most rewarding aspects to me is creating something from a vision – seeing it develop daily, and then witnessing the satisfaction of the team on completion. It’s not my success; it’s the success of Piety, the whole team. Everyone’s had a say and played a part in it.”
When Sammy joined Sydney-based vertically integrated property company Piety Group as CEO in 2019, it was a seamless transition – a perfect match, thanks to the alignment of his own beliefs with the company Founder Bill El-Cheikh, who has instilled a strong culture and great team environment.
“The way I look at it, culture is the difference between a business that can make money or a business that creates people who are building a future with integrity, with the quality we want, and is a great place to work,” he says.
“It’s something that has been a number one priority for us. It might sound like a cliche, but our culture is really not like any other – everybody in the team genuinely cares about the business and each other, and we’re all in sync with the same goals and aspirations. There’s nothing more satisfying than walking into head office or on site and seeing all the staff with genuine smiles on their faces, really loving what they do.”
This culture extends into Piety’s relationships with partners, subcontractors and suppliers as well, with the business intentionally cultivating the sense that they’re “part of the family”.
Offering turnkey solutions, the business manages operations from beginning to end, meaning that reliable, long-term partners are essential cogs in the Piety wheel. “We’re always seeking advice from them because they’re on the ground, they’re onsite,” Sammy explains.
“Communication is a key objective to better our product and the way we operate. Part of our innovative process is to go out and seek these opportunities with industry leaders and stay ahead of the game. Our subcontractors are very loyal to us, as we are to them. We consider them as part of our community.”
Sammy adds that a priority for Piety is ensuring that, as the company continues to grow and flourish, there is no compromising on sustainability practices. Rather, it provides an even bigger opportunity to make a difference.
“It comes back to innovation, and how rapidly things are changing in our industry,” he says. “We have to be really in tune with what’s going on around us and how we can make our buildings more sustainable. Innovation is what sets us apart from the average developer and builder.
For example, we’re teaming up with the University of Technology Sydney in the recycling of waste. We’re looking at wastewater technology and how it can be used as fertiliser, which will save huge amounts of water, in turn decreasing consumption and providing a great outcome for the environment.
Those are all things we’re really passionate about.” Going forward, Sammy is certain that by continuing to focus on exceptional quality and this emphasis on a people-first attitude, Piety has nowhere to go but up.
“We’ve stepped up our design quality assurance process, which leaves no room for error and ensures that we achieve superior quality,” he reveals. “This obviously costs the business more money, but these sorts of investments are well worth it for both us and the homeowners.
“The vision for Piety isn’t a quantum but, instead, is about integrity and quality. It’s being an industry leader in time frame and delivery, but more importantly, it’s building for the future through our staff, our investors, our customers and our communities that we build for.
It’s about having a vision and understanding the expectations.” At the end of the day, Sammy believes his strength as a leader lies in his ability to communicate openly and effectively with his team – a quality he has nurtured over his three decades in the industry. “There’s no secret to success,” he smiles.
“But listening to your staff and their input is invaluable. You really need to empower them with their own creativity and ideas, which gives them a sense of achievement and ownership without micromanaging them or pushing your own ideas onto them. People really shine when you give them that opportunity.”
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