Facilities Management is a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, places, process and technology.
Facilities Management has core competencies including communication, finance and business, human factors, leadership and strategy, operations and maintenance, project management, quality, real estate and property management, and technology to name a few. These fields are prominently growing and each sector is continuing to add female roles to these positions.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Teena Shouse, who has played a prominent role in facilities management for almost 30 years. Her leadership as Chairman of the IFMA Board of Directors and Chair of Global FM BOD enabled her to influence FM on a global basis. Her technical expertise grew as the Employee Services FM at Spring HQ for 18 years and as the VP of Client Services for FEA until February 2017 when she formed FM Transitions.
Currently, she is a consultant for businesses in the FM space as well as does speaking engagements across the globe, such as the NFMT where I had the pleasure of meeting her in Orlando 2017.
This interview focuses around how facilities management is changing and the integration of women in various roles within the facilities industry. Teena takes us through how she started in the business, where she sees maintenance now, and where she sees FM in the future.
Women in Facilities Management
- Question: How has the facility management industry changed from when you started to today?
Answer: I started 30 years ago in the FM world, and I worked in the administrative services department working on shipping, copying, and other admin duties. Divisions such as engineering and administrative services seldom came together but it became apparent as years went on how the two could help one another. The departments then began to merge and learn the different services that each provided closing the knowledge gap between new hires, current employees, and increased the on-boarding process for companies.
- Question: Speaking of the knowledge gap, how do you overcome that in facilities? Answer: In order for your staff to adopt something new or even just to bridge that gap between the new and the old you need to have early engagement, constant communication, and ask yourself why is this important to your staff and how will this benefit them in the long run. You need to create the vision how this will be a positive outcome for them, walk them through the process of how this technology or tool will benefit them in the workplace.
- Question: Where would you like to see women take a more prominent role in FM? Answer: In my experience, women have that financial knowledge that would help facility managers understand the true value of their assets. Facility managers don’t usually speak the financial language which causes roadblocks for engineers and managers because they don’t know how to get that ROI. Strategic planning should be a proactive approach rather than a reactive one.
- Question: What is your advice for women trying to break into the FM world? Answer: I would say not only for women but for anyone looking to break into the field that there are now degrees in facility management that weren’t when I was in school. It would be wonderful to see women in internal FM positions because right now within the FMCC certification it is predominately 60/40 male to female ratio when it comes to positions in facilities management.
- Question: What do you love most about your job? Answer: I would say learning. I went from working for Sprint helping build a billion dollar institution to now teaching, speaking, and consulting around the world doing what I love. I say to anyone who asks, ” Do what you love and love what you do.” I get to choose my clients and have the flexibility to go where I want and that is an amazing experience and honor.
- Question: Last but not least, what does the future of FM look like to you? Answer: It is about adaptation, staying on top of data, technology, and being progressive. I would love to see more people studying FM in school, making it a profession of choice and not something that an individual feels they are being thrown into and becoming a craftsman of your skill. The future is ever changing and you need to stay relevant as a business and a worker and try to keep up with technology the best you can otherwise you will be left behind.
Facilities management continues to change and evolve and as Teena Shouse pointed out those that do not adapt will be left behind. Women have the opportunity to excel in their fields by obtaining a degree in FM, working that corporate ladder, and expanding their knowledge within the FM space.