What has been your experience in the industry?
While going to Columbia to Graduate School, I worked for the College Board as a Facilities Manager with responsibilities that included MAC’s (Moves Adds and Changes). I liked the logistics of moves and I liked working with people. After the College Board, I worked for several other companies handling their moves with the most complex move being for a newspaper publishing company who produced and printed 5 daily newspapers and 4 weekly newspapers. Coordinating the intricacies of working with the hard deadlines of newspapers, plus overseeing the installation of the first full-color newspaper printing presses, was thrilling to me. So many elements to coordinate, so many people depending on a flawless move, so much furniture to install, so much change for employees – so challenging and so rewarding when it all went so well.
After the newspaper moves, just working in Facilities seems dull, so I decided to start my own Relocation Management Company: Freeman Enterprises. We were extraordinarily successful and I had the opportunity to work in all sorts of businesses from cancer hospitals and ivy league colleges to accounting and law firms, creative firms and non-profits. The diversity of businesses was electrifying and educational.
What are you looking forward to in your role as Director of Workplace Strategy at Certified?
I am looking forward to many things: Organization and Logistics. I love seeing a project go from paper to being a full occupied space. Design, construction and full functioning of a new space are elements of the process that offer diverse opportunities: Implementing and installing walls and furniture; working with corporate managers and their employees to implement Change Management. Workplace Strategy to me is, the supplemental aspects that allow corporations, employees and their space to function successfully and in support of growth and profit.
Workplace Strategy Solutions: what are some daily challenges faced by your clients?
The most consistent challenge with all clients is to find a clear channel of communication to let employees know what will be happening because of their new work environment. Generally, a vision of how the workplace will function is developed by either senior management or the real estate team. Then, the actual plan of how the new space will work and how employees will work within that space needs to be developed with a solid delivery vehicle. Whether a full Change Management strategy is developed or simple information about how the new space will work, management and employees need to be educated and included in the action plans.
Once communication channels are open, there are still challenges in enlisting participants to embrace the changes that will take place. Generally, people don’t like to be told they need to change. To get them to change, they must be enlisted in the process.
How do you prioritize developing solutions to conflicts in a large corporate environment?
The priority is always to get support from senior management. Once that is established, working with the employees who will be the most affected becomes the priority.
What was your overall experience at PepsiCo – how was your experience working with Certified?
Working at PepsiCo on a $250M project was so interesting in many perspectives. We took an iconic building on beautiful sculpture gardens and stripped it to its core. This was not only symbolic of the new beginning (on its 50th Anniversary) in a totally new space, but also created the opportunity to institute a new way of working. The completely open space, without offices, has plenty of private space all the while encouraging collaboration and teamwork. Was it a lot of work making this building a success? Yes, but there were many contributors to the success.
Among the contributors was Certified. We purchased about 2500 workstations as well as millions of dollars of case goods, including cafeteria furniture and fitness center equipment. While the systems furniture was from one manufacturer, everything else was from dozens of manufacturers. As on many large products, building completion was accomplished floor by floor—there were 21 floors. Without Certified managing the warehousing, precise delivery schedule and installation of all the furniture, we would have needed to coordinate thousands of details with hundreds of vendors. Certified was our one source. They handled all the details, all the issues and supervised a flawless installation on time and on budget. They were a phenomenal resource.