Insight

Facilities Management: From Practitioners to Professionals

by Sami Barry
conference room

Helbling's Senior Managing Consultant Joe Wargo and Managing Consultant Wendy Zang will be attending the National Business Officers Association (NBOA) 2018 Annual Meeting in Nashville next month. An organization made up of independent schools across the country, NBOA will be covering a variety of topics impacting these institutions during its 3-day event. Undoubtedly, facilities management, as well as capital planning, will be among subjects that speakers and professionals will be discussing.

Facilities management is the second highest line item for most academic institutions, which signifies this function’s importance to overall goals and strategies. Within progressive independent schools, facilities leaders work in partnership with senior administration, leading institutional efforts as they relate to: 

  • balancing capital programs with maintenance andoperations;
  • analyzing costs, benefits, and returns on investment of initiatives;
  • integrating new trends in building design while maintaining historic architecture; 
  • leveraging technological advancements in sustainability and energy management; and
  • implementing safety and security programs.

Facilities management has evolved to encompass these types of responsibilities. Therefore, it is critical that professionals have diverse technical and tangible skills, such as:

  • strong business acumen and financial aptitude;
  • knowledge of space planning, green building, and alternative construction methods; 
  • understanding of sustainability programs and how to encourage community engagement;
  • comprehension of utilities/energy management, and building automation systems; and
  • ability to analyze equipment, perform preventative maintenance, and determine life cycle costs.

As executive search consultants who partner extensively with independent schools across the country in attracting and securing mid- to senior-level facilities professionals, Helbling appreciates the value that executives with the above skills can offer an academic institution. We also realize that certain intangible traits can take strong technical capabilities even further. Foremost, it is imperative for facilities leaders to have the ability to effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas to directors, boards, end users, local communities, shareholders, senior administration, and sometimes even governmental entities to illustrate how facilities management concepts and approaches directly correlate to long-term goals.

Additional important soft skills are:

  • solid decision-making;
  • innovative mindset;
  • leadership abilities; 
  • complex problem-solving; 
  • patience and persistence; 
  • customer service orientation; 
  • adaptability to changing trends and conditions; 
  • self-awareness, which lends itself to emotional intelligence; 
  • communication skills (written, verbal, listening, and persuasion); and 
  • ability to hire, train, motivate and empower staff, and to build collaborative teams.

If you are a hiring manager in an independent school, we recommend closely analyzing the above traits in prospective candidates. These skills can add immediate strength to your facilities department and provide value to your institution going forward.

Attending NBOA's annual meeting? Stop by our booth #29, and meet Joe and Wendy! If you'd like to connect with them before the conference, feel free to email them directly!