Last you read about Ann Klee was in September, when she had left General Electric but wanted to stay in Boston.
Klee has landed at the most Boston of Boston companies: Suffolk, the multibillion-dollar construction business led by John Fish.
Klee, 58, starts Monday as an executive vice president overseeing national business development and government affairs for Suffolk. She is the second GE alum to join the company; Puneet Mahajan came aboard last year as chief financial officer.
Klee spent more than 11 years at GE in multiple roles, including vice president of environment, health, and safety; vice president of Boston development and operations; and president of the GE Foundation. She also headed the search for a new GE headquarters, which resulted in the industrial conglomerate relocating from suburban Connecticut to Boston in 2016.
“What I did in Boston, my experience in the public and private sectors, building relationships and building teams . . . it felt like a perfect fit for me,” Klee told me.
Klee, an environmental lawyer by training who also worked in the George W. Bush administration, considered opportunities in government, as well as the technology and energy sectors, ranging from fledgling startups to public companies. Most of all, however, she wanted to stay in Boston. She fell in love with the city when she moved here with GE and bought a condo in the Seaport District.
Fish, Suffolk’s CEO, was one of the first people Klee met when GE moved to town. She also got to know him when Suffolk was chosen as general contractor for the new GE tower, though ultimately that did not get built.
“Building relationships and trust with clients, communities, and government is critical to long-term success in our industry, so I am thrilled Ann has joined the Suffolk family,” Fish said in a press release.
Klee arrives as Suffolk rolls out a new brand and a line of services designed to help the company evolve from traditional construction company to full-service development and real estate firm. Suffolk is a big player in Boston, having built projects like Millennium Tower, One Dalton, and the Encore Boston Harbor casino. But over the past decade it has more aggressively expanded its national footprint: Suffolk has 2,400 employees and now ranks among the 25 largest US construction companies. Its other offices are in New York, Florida, Texas, and California.
Suffolk has been known as a landing spot for prominent local leaders, including former state senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Boston Globe publisher Chris Mayer, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce executive Katy O’Neil, and David Passafaro, a top aide to the late Boston mayor Tom Menino. (Mayer and Passafaro have since left Suffolk.)
But over the past three years, as Suffolk raises its profile outside of New England, Fish has recruited senior leaders from nationally renowned companies including Jit Kee Chin as its chief data officer (formerly of McKinsey & Co.), Lea Stendahl as chief marketing officer (formerly of E*Trade), and Dennis Berger as chief culture officer (formerly of CDW Corp.).
“That’s a huge attraction. It’s such a great leadership team,” Klee said. “That’s part of John’s vision. . . . He is trying to do something that is different."
Klee is the type of leader Boston should want to keep. I’m glad she’s staying. Our city will be better for it.
Shirley Leung is a Business columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.