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Executive Profile – Kirt Gilliland

When Kirt Gilliland joined the staff at Irving Hughes, he worked from a card table in the break room for the first six months.

Gilliland had approached Craig Irving and Jason Hughes about adding a construction management division to their commercial real estate brokerage.

Twelve years later, Gilliland has moved up from the break room and now runs the project management division at Irving Hughes. He has worked on notable build-to-suit projects such as AMN Healthcare’s corporate headquarters and an $8 million expansion at Francis Parker School, and started work on the San Diego Children’s Museum in May, considering it one of his greatest opportunities.

“We have the opportunity to help our clients through a difficult design and construction process,” he said. “They’re well-educated, smart, intelligent people but you wouldn’t think of doing your corporate taxes by yourself.”

The nearly native Gilliland moved to San Diego when he was 6 months old and, with the exception of his college years in Los Angeles, has spent most of his life in San Diego.

Although Gilliland had always wanted to work in construction, a degree in civil engineering was the closest he could come, but he was able to quickly work his way up the corporate ladder into the construction industry. In 2006, Irving Hughes’ project management division generated $550,000 in revenues.


Name: Kirt Gilliland.

Company: Irving Hughes.

Title: Principal.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in construction, University of Southern California.

Birthplace: Lincoln, Neb.

Age: 44.

Current residence: Rancho Bernardo.

Family: Wife Tiffany; son Tyler, 13; and daughter Hailey, 10.


Essential business philosophy: Add value to each and every project process in a fair and team-oriented fashion.

Best way to keep a competitive edge: Keep your clients happy and do a great job. Reputation and good references cannot be made up.

Guiding principles: At the end of the day all I have is who I am, so I try to conduct business in a way that will reflect my faith and beliefs.

Yardstick of success: If I can help my clients, provide for my family and still have time to spend with my family and friends, then I must have it right!

Goals yet to be achieved: Retirement.


Best business decision: Approaching Craig Irving and Jason Hughes 12 years ago and convincing them to let me start a project management group at Irving Hughes.

Worst business decision: Underestimating the value I bring to the table.

Toughest business decision: Leaving my regular paying job to start my business at Irving Hughes.

Mentors: My parents, Mary and John Gilliland.

Word that describes you: Caring.


What you like best about your job: Helping people through the difficult and challenging tasks of designing and constructing a project.

What you like least about your job: Clients that have unrealistic expectations, or that are just downright rude.

Most important business lesson learned: If I am avoiding calling a client because he or she might ask for something or complain about something, it is probably time to pick up the phone and call them.

Person most interested in meeting: Abraham Lincoln.

Three greatest passions: My wife, my kids and anything to do with hanging out with my friends.

First choice for a new career: Stay-at-home dad.

Type of car you drive: Infiniti G35.


Favorite quote: “And the world will be better for this, that one man, scorned and covered with scars, still strove with his last ounce of courage, to reach the unreachable star.”

Most influential books: The Bible and “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie.

Favorite restaurants: The ones my wife likes and wants to spend time with me at.

Favorite vacation spot: Kona Village, Hawaii.

Favorite way to spend time: Spending time with my family or friends.


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