Nanak Malhotra, C.D. Smith Construction

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Nanak Malhotra, business development manager, C.D. Smith Construction.
Nanak Malhotra Headsot

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

One of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of my job is speaking to the entirety of C.D. Smith Construction’s project experience and operational reach.

As one of Wisconsin’s largest general contractors, we employ around 600 skilled tradespeople, allowing us to self-perform 17 construction trades. We have completed some of Wisconsin’s most prestigious and complex projects. Additionally, our operational reach has taken us out of state, as far west as Washington and as far east as Maine. Throughout 85 years of operation, the company has developed an impressive portfolio of completed projects spanning nine vertical markets.

The tough part about this is deciphering the best information to share or projects to reference when introducing our company. The rewarding part is I am reminded daily about how amazing our company and people are. It is a good problem to have when you have so much positive information to share!

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

One person I admire in business is author and founder of the Table Group, Patrick Lencioni. We always say that construction is the ultimate team sport. There are so many entities working together to deliver a project successfully. I appreciate Patrick’s value for teamwork and drive to help companies be successful by improving organizational health. He is an excellent thought leader who provides a lot of great insights. My favorite quote of his is, “Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.”

What has been the high point of your career so far?

Having an opportunity to work in business development for C.D. Smith Construction has been a high point. I feel humbled to be on the C.D. Smith Construction team. The company has been in business for 85 years and has a stellar reputation. Being entrusted with the opportunity is a high honor, and I feel proud to represent the company in the Madison area.

Also, my role is very fitting for my personality and strengths. I’ve always had a passion for construction, meeting new people, and learning about different businesses. Many times, a customer or partner has a problem they need solving. It is very fulfilling to learn about others and their needs and share how C.D. Smith Construction can be a partner to help.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Two things. First, avoid comparison. I believe that great success comes when you can find your calling or “lane” in life and embrace your authentic strengths and weaknesses! When you are comparing yourself to others, you can easily experience a false sense of pride or feelings of inadequacy, both of which can direct you off course and out of your “lane”!

The second is to live in the present. Dale Carnegie says it best: “To live in day-tight compartments.” Looking back, I know I’ve wasted too much time worrying about the future, limiting me from giving my full attention to what was in front of me.

What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

I love the high quality of life we enjoy in Dane County. You can get to most places without spending a lot of time driving. We are fortunate to have many “big city” amenities close by while living in an area that still feels like a small town. I love that we can go to a Badger game or show downtown and run into so many familiar faces along the way!

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I have been known to have an “elephant memory.” Often, I will meet someone for the first time and have a great conversation while getting to know them. After not seeing them for MANY years, we will randomly cross paths, and I usually remember them and EVERYTHING they shared. It has been a great way to build relationships with many in the Madison area.

Sometimes, I think I’ve scared some people though by the level of detail that I remember between conversations!

What are your guilty pleasures?

Pickleball has become a guilty pleasure. I’ve always enjoyed racquet sports like tennis and racquetball, which made pickleball easy to love. What I love most is how easy the sport is to learn, which has made for a fun networking activity and something to share with friends and colleagues.

Golf has also quickly become a guilty pleasure. I recently picked up clubs again after many years and am hooked! I love the discipline and precision that the sport requires. It has been a great sport to allow me to connect with different people. Also, every great shot feeds the addiction to get out and keep playing!

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