More facilities managers moving into the C suite

The role of facility managers is expanding, enabling some to move from middle management closer to the C suite -- 11 percent are senior executives working alongside the CEO, CFO and COO.

[caption id="attachment_68711" align="alignright" width="200"] Robert Ule, president of the Redwood Empire Chapter of the International Facility Management Association based in Santa Rosa encompassing the North Bay[/caption]

“The definition, importance and scope of what we do has changed dramatically,” said Robert Ule, president of the Redwood Empire Chapter of IFMA (International Facility Management Association, based in Sonoma County.

“Companies that value professional facilities management want us to participate in decision-making and no longer see us as just running a maintenance crew. The perception of what we do is shifting from handling a cost center to having a strategic asset management and financial role.”

The 2011 IFMA Salary and Demographics Research Report showed that 54 percent of 4,353 respondents to the global survey said their responsibilities have definitely increased over the past two years. Thirty-eight percent said they are responsible for 20 or more buildings and 33 percent reported that they manage buildings with over one million square feet of space.

Being a facility manager is no longer reserved for men. Today some 33 percent are women, according to this survey.

According to Mr. Ule, the issues faced in the North Bay are unique with emphasis on sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint. 

“We must find new ways to cut or eliminate wasteful activities that produce bottom line savings while meeting environmental objectives.”

He said, “better is often cheaper in the long term, not more expensive.”

For example, local firms are installing more efficient air conditioning systems with a payback in less than three years that save half a million dollars in annual energy cost.

Recently, a representative from Aspen Filters gave a presentation to some of  the local IFMA chapter’s 62 members about saving energy when filtering the air.

“Our members are also focusing on water conservation using an aggressive rebate program that is saving hundreds of thousands of gallons a month. They are using Green Ray LED, mercury-free lighting and net zero landscaping techniques that don’t require a lot of water, tree trimming, grass cutting and clipping disposal.”

[caption id="attachment_68712" align="alignright" width="180"] Jon Martens, founder and first president of the Redwood Empire IFMA Chapter. He is also an IFMA fellow and a training instructor.[/caption]

Jon Martens, CEO of JEMCOR, Inc., and founder/first president of the Redwood Empire IFMA chapter (, said FMs are being impacted by 10 major trends.Sustainability costs top the list. “Businesses are struggling to make changes and it is hard to come up with funding that represents 30 percent of infrastructure costs -- putting a squeeze on both private and public sector budgets.”Building systems are much more complex requiring new technologies, and skills to manage them. Technology integration will be a major trend for over the next 10 years.Aging buildings require upgrade plans, yet many mechanical systems are exceeding their expected operating lives -- raising issues of whether to repair or replace, along with the impact of prolonged deferred maintenance. Plans and strategies should be formulated for decommissioning a facility in an economic and environmentally responsible way.Demand is rising for contingency plans in the event of a disruptive event, calling for emergency preparedness, damage mitigation and business continuity planning expertise as well as employee safety and security plans.The increasing quantity and complexity of data required to monitor and control advanced building systems demands new reporting protocols that can contribute to decision-making.Finding top facility manager talent is vital, since most firms can’t hire 20 different specialists, but rather a single generalist who must wear many hats.The above factors enhance the urgency for elevating the facility management function within the corporate hierarchy.At the same time, organizations are expanding expectations of FMs to include both technical as well as business acumen to improve facility performance.There is growing recognition that facility managercontributes to the health and well-being of building occupants, thereby enhancing efficiency, productivity and profitability.Today’s innovative work environments and changing work styles (open work plan arrangements, differing hours of operation, varying occupant densities, etc.) affect occupant behavior and the vacancy rate of buildings. These factors are also affected by the application of building design, and how new facilities must be operated and managed.

“More advanced training and support programs are urgently needed. You can’t find an facility manager textbook that is not at least 10 years old,” Mr. Martens said.

With the advent of new technology and computer aided facilities management (CAFM), another dimension has been added to the mix.

The IFMA Salary and Demographic Research Report also showed that 63 percent of respondents had bachelor’s degrees or higher, and that compensation tracked closely with span of supervision, educational attainment and professional certifications. 

[caption id="attachment_68713" align="alignleft" width="200"] Michael Feldman, member of the board of directors of the International Facility Management Association and chair of the IFMA Education Committee[/caption]

Michael Feldman, member of national IFMA board and chair of the education committee, said steps have been taken to fill education gaps.

IFMA has developed three credential programs: (CFM) Certified Facilities Manager, (FMP) Facility Management Professional and (SFP) Sustainability Facility Professional categories.

Also in development for 2013 is a competency course addressing continuity of governance and operations as well as the need for an Emergency Operations Center plan and trained incident commanders.

“Effective facility management is critical to business success, since it is second only to personnel costs among highest budget line items. It is essential for the provision of a safe, clean, reliable operating platform for both employees and the quality of the customer experience,” Mr. Feldman said.

IFMA continues to develop best practices that cross multiple industry lines as benchmarks for excellence.

“While outsourcing some routine functions is both cost-effective and practical, it is important to have quality assurance oversight within the organization in the hands of a facility manager equipped with the tools and metrics to ensure current performance and continuous improvement -- factors that help contain the total cost of ownership,” he added.

The IFMA has 11 chapters and 2,237 members in California. Worldwide, there are 130 chapters in 78 countries and a total of 23,000 IFMA members.

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