Facility Champion Award winners share their steps to success. October 13, 2022
Too often, facilities management is relegated to a behind-the-scenes role. However, the reality is that facility managers are leaders in their organizations. Buildings cannot function without their hard work, creativity and critical thinking.
The Facility Champion Award celebrates these efforts by honoring eight outstanding facility managers from across the United States. At NFMT Remix, four of these winners will share their experiences and best practices during a panel discussion.
Kristin Podwojski is the COO of Variety, the Delaware Valley Children’s Charity, located outside of Philadelphia. Variety is a national nonprofit organization that empowers people with disabilities. The 77-acre campus includes a number of aging buildings as well as two greenhouses and a 99,000 gallon accessible swimming pool. The organization’s small staff and limited resources mean that Podwojski must get creative, whether recruiting a team of employees from a local big-box home improvement store to renovate the first floor of the campus farm or designing a sliding water table when pool pH levels were unsafe.
In her role as Director of Sustainability at Hinds Community College, Mindy Stevens continues to push the bar higher for energy conservation and sustainability achievement. After achieving its original goal of reducing energy consumption by 20% in less than 12 months, Hinds has achieved energy savings of over 34% (over $23 million in costs) through projects such as as LED lighting and HVAC upgrades. On the sustainability side, Hinds champions recycling and solid waste reduction efforts.
Doug Pearson, vice president of facilities planning and operations at Kent State University in Ohio, is responsible for more than 8 million square feet and more than 350 employees across 10 campuses. The university is currently in the midst of the first phase of the Kent State Gateway Master Plan, a $110 million capital improvement project that was developed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which focuses on better HVAC systems and flexible learning spaces to include remote and blended education opportunities and smaller shared workspaces.
As Chief Aesthetics Engineer for Mariott International – Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Colorado, Ethan Fitterman oversees guest service technicians, craftsmen and guest room preventative maintenance crews, as well as grounds. . He also assists investment projects and aims to improve customer satisfaction. He helped open the hotel, which is one of the largest in Colorado, and was instrumental in resolving a major crisis during the month it opened when a sewer line was discovered to be sabotaged.
NFMT: How do you define success in facility management?
Podwojsky: For me, success means customers have a safe, clean place to participate in programs, and employees in our organization have the tools they need to do their jobs. There must also be a constant effort to improve and make safer our facilities where we operate.
Steve: I define success in facilities management as providing safe, comfortable and efficient structures that our faculty, staff, students and community can use and enjoy. This can be done in many ways, but I strive to have an impact through sustainability initiatives. We strive to reduce energy consumption, reduce waste and increase recycling efforts every day.
Person: Success in facilities management exceeds your customers’ expectations. Companies expect facility managers to lead in a variety of ways – technically, socially, in times of crisis and during change. All the while, they need to control costs and improve service. Moreover, leadership in facilities management should be in all directions; down for staff, laterally for colleagues and up for senior management. We are responsible for developing the facility management service into a professional operation, training and retraining staff, establishing procedures and conducting quality assurance and performance management.
Editor: Throughout my career, I have discovered that there are two major elements to being successful in what I do in facilities management. The first element is communication. Although this is something that is done on a regular basis, it plays such an important role in day-to-day operations. I’ve found that sometimes you have to think outside the box and focus on your audience… The second element is relationship building. For me, I’ve found that taking the time to have individual projects or walks with the team has proven to have a positive impact on results. Anyone can send an email or text a picture, but is your message really getting through? Taking the time to walk with an associate can be very impactful. This is where you can really get to know someone and learn from them.
NFMT Remix will take place in Las Vegas, November 2-3, at the Paris Las Vegas Resort Conference Center. For more information, visit www.nfmt.com/vegas.