Sr. Military Planner, Aecom
How many people does your business employ?
AECOM is an international corporation with over 44,000 people world-wide. There are about 400 people in my office in Orange, CA. There are about 20 in my department (we are the federal planning group and provide environmental and planning services.) Even though I’m a consultant, I’m a Professional Member, as I started as a professional member and when I changed companies, I maintained my membership vs. my employers owning my membership. The good news is that I own my membership and it goes where I go; the bad news is that I’m not included in the IFMA directory because that promotes the services of the Associate members – oh well!
How long have you lived in SD? If not a native where did you live before and what brought you to this city?
I have lived in San Diego since 1996. Before that I lived in San Luis Obispo (for college) and before that San Francisco (where I started college). Before that – I was a military brat and moved about 15 times before I left home to go to college!
Are there any specific fields of work that you would like to see join IFMA that we don’t have members in now?
I really can’t think of anything – that’s the beauty of FM – it’s such a broad field, it encompasses so many different fields – operations, finance, capital planning, architecture, planning, construction management – and then there’s all the support services like janitorial, landscaping, furniture/carpeting, etc. etc. etc.! If I had a magic wand (!) I’d get more campus facilities people involved. I’m the Vice President of IFMA’s Academic Facilities Council, and it seems that a great many FM folks (from schools in California and Florida in particular) are members of “APPA” instead of IFMA/AFC. I’d like to see them in IFMA.
What is the most influential book you ever read and why?
Tough one – LOVE books. Many have been influential – probably the most recent really influential book I read is “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. I was dismayed that despite all the sacrifices women made in the 60s and 70s towards equality that we are still often our own worst enemy – and was heartened to read such amazing insight from such a bright, successful person. A lot of her book was directed to younger women and working moms, but I still underlined much of the book and recommended it to many people. Another is one I just recently read is “The World Peace Game” by John Hunter. I heard his “Ted Talk” and was intrigued. After reading his book, I was not only awestruck and inspired by what a dedicated teacher and all around great guy he is, but I feel much better about our future when I see the trends in how kids seem to be able to find solutions to problems that previous generations have not.
How did you end up in facility management?
I guess like everyone else, I knew when I was eight years old that I wanted to be an FM. (Just kidding!) Of course I came into it by the side door. I got a degree in architecture but knew early on that I was more interested in project management than design. I was also older (it took me 20 years to get through school) and I didn’t want to start “at the bottom” when I graduated, so I went on for an MBA. My first real job out of college (after substitute teaching and working as a switchboard operator at a credit union call center) was in the FM department at the Jack in the Box headquarters, and even though it wasn’t really architecture, I always felt I was lucky to be able to actually use both of my degrees on my job. I’m in kind of a sub-set of FM – I’m a planner. I’ve done space planning, departmental remodels/relocations, and municipal planning – but mostly I’ve done military facility planning.
What is your favorite after hours hobby and why?
That’s like asking who my favorite child is – I can’t answer that! I’m one of those people with a lot of outside interests – but I can narrow it down to a few: my dogs, cooking, and my dance troupe. And why? Because all three recharge my batteries. My dogs love me but more importantly, they let me love them. One of them is a cuddler and the other makes me laugh all the time – what more could I ask? Cooking is not only how I like to de-stress, but it’s how I like to show some love to my family, friends and co-workers. And my dance troupe (Middle Eastern) is like a family of sisters – I’ve been a member of Blue Lotus for a little over ten years now. I mostly play the drum for the troupe, but we also dance and sing some of our own accompaniment, and I make costumes.
What is one of the oddest resources you have needed during your career in facility management and explain?
After I worked at Jack in the Box for a few months, I bought a Christmas present for my boss, Roz Guthrie. I got her a crystal ball, a magic wand and a whip, suggesting that from my observation, these appeared to be the “tools of FM!” The crystal ball was for when people ask, “When is my project going to be done?” The magic wand was for the people who say “I need this done as soon as possible” (in other words, every project) and a whip was to make that magic happen!
If you could delegate one thing that is constantly on your plate, what duty would that be and why?
Typing up notes from interviews/meetings. It always but always takes me longer to do than I think it’s going to and while it is really important, it feels so “yesterday” and I’m ready to move on to the next thing.
What is your company’s most important commodity or service?
AECOM stands for “architecture, engineering, construction, operations and maintenance.” But I think the most important thing we provide is the ability for our clients to focus on what they’re best at – and to leave the rest to us.
What has been the most important aspect that has contributed to your success?
I know you’re supposed to have a five year plan and all that, but I truly believe that the single most important aspect that has contributed to my success has been that I didn’t have a plan and was willing to explore opportunities as they presented themselves. If I’d had a plan, I might have overlooked other opportunities that popped up.