Jochen Schaefer, SVP, Director of Marketing & Business Development
Jochen Schaefer is Baumann’s Director of Marketing and Business Development–the man behind the company’s strategic planning and marketing programs. He joined Baumann’s Washington, DC office in 2006, the year the company was founded. As the first official employee, aside from Founder Oliver Baumann, Jochen played a key role in shaping the company. In this blog article, Jochen goes down memory lane and reminisces about his first days at Baumann, past roles, and the lasting impact it has had on this career.
Almost to the day, 15 years ago, I met Oliver through mutual friends. He was introduced to me as “the German who wanted to start his company in Washington”, which was quite a first impression. Although we didn’t speak too much about his business idea that evening, I was curious, nevertheless. We reconnected when Oliver came back to the US a few months later and met to further discuss his new business venture; little did I know what would come out of my first meeting with Oliver.
As we talked more about his business idea, I was immediately intrigued by his vision. Although the wording was different back then, the message is still the same now “elevate high-performance buildings from a niche to the standard”. Optimizing building operations to improve functionality and thermal comfort while reducing energy consumption is quite a different focus from that of my previous position. I was a mechanical design engineer for a chemical company and, though it was interesting from an engineering perspective, the environmental impacts of my work always bothered me.
After that, things moved quickly and a few weeks later, I started as the first Baumann employee and worked in the basement of a row house on Pennsylvania Avenue SE behind the Capitol, close to the Eastern Market. At first, it took some adjusting to my new work environment–working VERY closely in the basement with my boss. It was quite a contrast to my previous job—one gigantic site with more than 40,000 employees. This close working relationship exposed me to a lot more than just engineering and opened my eyes to the whole business cycle. It is easy to take the bi-weekly paycheck for granted, but I quickly learned that it is directly connected to finishing projects within budget and on time to be able to send out invoices.
In my first years, I wore many different hats to support the company’s objectives. Besides the day-to-day engineering and consulting work, I learned about market research and identifying industry needs and trends. I also was involved in talent acquisition to find staff with unique expertise, which would allow the company to offer new services, as well as expand our capacity. I also had my share of trivial tasks including creating templates, setting up our server and data infrastructure, and even helping make decisions on how to handle unused sick days at the end of the year. Well, the latter one actually wasn’t that trivial.
A few years later, in 2010, we were looking for a new office space to accommodate our growing staff and decided on a space on 15th Street, just around the White House. As the team for our sustainability services grew, I became Head of Baumann’s Green Building Management Group. In this role, I managed and oversaw more than 40 LEED certification projects in the US and abroad. One of the most memorable projects involved guiding the project team through the first LEED project in Russia. The whole team didn’t see LEED as this burdensome task but as an opportunity to be creative and to come up with solutions that make sense for the building and its occupants while satisfying the LEED requirement. They were however frustrated that the manufacturing process was barely covered by LEED; this led to the development of a sustainable rating guide for the manufacturing processes for all their new facilities.
Around 2013, we opened two additional offices in Chicago and Frankfurt, Germany becoming a transatlantic company. With Oliver moving to Chicago to oversee the new office, I became the office director for the DC office. At that point, I realized how connected I was with the company and how much I wanted it to succeed. It gave me the responsibility and opportunity to continue to lead our office in the right direction and contribute to the company’s overall success.
In 2018, I took on yet another role as Baumann’s Director of Marketing & Business Development. After 13 years it was easy to talk to clients about our services, our experience, and the unique qualities and expertise that sets Baumann apart from other firms. This definitely came in handy when it came to selling our services whether it was on a proposal, a presentation, or a LinkedIn post. Nevertheless, I had to learn a lot and am still learning about marketing strategies and tools. Also, having three offices in different markets has afforded me the opportunity to expand my knowledge beyond the DMV area; I have learned who the key players in those markets are, their needs, and how to develop the right strategies to help each office succeed.
My last 15 years at Baumann have been filled with new experiences, opportunities, challenges, and a lot of growth. It has given me the chance to work with a diverse group of people (our staff is from 10 different countries) with unique skills and who are experts in what they do. More importantly, my career at Baumann has allowed me to align my passion for the environment with my work by contributing to the reduction of the environmental impacts of the Real Estate industry.