A Conversation with Dr. Predrag B. Markovic, MBA'81

What was life like before you came to FDU?

In 1971, I came to the United States from Yugoslavia on a student visa. I was 22 and alone. I had two bags with me, $20 in my pocket, and I knew 50 words of English.

I found a job cleaning floors after construction in apartments on the Upper East Side of New York City, and learned English by taking classes at the Spanish-American Institute. This enabled me to take the entrance exams for The City University of New York, City College of New York (CCNY).

Next, I worked as a night shift mechanic for a Gnome Bakery, which helped to pay for my tuition. In Yugoslavia, I had graduated Mechanical Technical high school as a mechanical technician. I was always very good at working with my hands. I went to college during the day, taking 21 credits each semester and continuing through each summer, while also working full-time at night in the Woolworth Building Maintenance and Operations Department. Back then, there were many days when I went with little or no sleep. 

I met my wife during my last year at City College. She’s a registered nurse who came to the U.S. from the Philippines. We were both alone in this country. We got married in my last semester at CCNY. For our wedding, we invited everyone in the U.S. who helped us along the way with advice and suggestions on where to go to school, where to work and live. It was wonderful.

I then served as the operations manager for the Union Carbide Headquarters at 270 Park Avenue  in New York City. I learned how a building breathes. I can walk into a building and within a few minutes I can tell you what’s wrong and how to fix it. I was recognized for my preventative maintenance practices, which I learned from my grandfather who always said, ‘You don’t start feeding a suckling pig 2 days before Christmas.’ I had tough bosses over the years.  I built a strong reputation for organizational leadership, which led to many other opportunities.

Tell us about your construction and renovation projects.

During the mid-1980s, I managed the completion of the Jacob Javitz Convention Center in New York City. We cut $30 million in expenses and finished 3 months ahead of schedule. This led to an opportunity with the Xerox Corporation, where I managed the development of the company’s real estate portfolio consisting of 14 office buildings and two mixed-use land development sites. 

During the late '90s, I was Vice President for the firm McKissack & McKissack, where I managed the programming of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., a hospital renovation for the National Institutes of Health, and the renovation and restoration of the United States Treasury building, after a fire caused extensive damage in 1996. 

I then worked for the New York City School Construction Authority and a number of construction firms. Projects included the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts building at Lincoln Center and train station renovations for the Metro Transit Authority, as well as new facilities for universities, the U.S. Coast Guard and New Jersey State Police, among many others. I built a total of over $4 billion dollars worth of construction projects in North America.

How did FDU prepare you for your career?

FDU opened windows on the world for me. I’m very proud of the education I received from the University, and have always been impressed by the faculty in charge of the MBA program. They have real-world experiences that they bring into the classroom. The professors made us think globally on every case study we worked on, which was excellent. 

One course in particular made a significant difference in my life. It focused on the multi-national corporation, and it changed the way I thought about operations and leadership. My FDU professor shared his experience doing business with Saudi Arabia.

What are you up to these days?

I’m taking on new and exciting projects, and I’m also thinking about my legacy. I want to give back to FDU by talking with students, teaching, and sharing my great experiences and advice.  

One of FDU’s greatest strengths is providing a learning environment that focuses on innovation and global impact. I also want to help the University preserve and expand on this in any way I can.  

About Dr. Predrag B. Markovic, MBA’81

Predrag B. Markovic, MBA’81, is Chairman and CEO of P.B. Markovic Project Management, a construction and operations management consulting firm. Markovic earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from The City University of New York in 1976, and a MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Rutherford Campus in 1981. In 2015, he earned a Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.