One of the most well attended NFMT workshops is the Women in Facilities Management round table. The focus of the round table discussion centered on these topics. Not only among the three professional women on the panel but with the attendees’ participation as well. Three women who have been in the field for several years and grown through a series of job changes and promotions spoke about how they navigated through a field typically inhabited and managed by men. Although their environments were different, the overall method they used for advancement was education and training. Entry level jobs were soon outgrown and the way up to a sustainable wage was to get a degree or certificate, combined with learning everything about the desired job and then acquiring more skills needed for that position. Vigilantly watch for job postings and then apply. It is difficult for a rejection notice to come when the skills and experience are there.
This career philosophy will fit into any career path or occupation. However, a few of the drawbacks to this strategy include the need to be open to more education, to have the time, funds, and ability to complete it, and to be targeting a field that values education and training as an advancement strategy. Some of these drawbacks are diminished through various programs. College scholarships are available for women in particular industries. Opportunities for certificates exist that document skills but do not take as much time and money to complete. On the job training programs present opportunities for advancement upon completion. Some employers may provide mentorship opportunities for women who are employed in buildings and often provide fertile ground for career development. There are several methods of identifying next steps within an organization and acquiring the skills to be qualified.
The other side of the equation is educating the existing management structure to allow these newly educated and skilled women to move up in their organizations. Much has been written about the skill gaps that will become reality as older senior managers and workers retire and leave behind a huge number of jobs that require a variety of skills and experience to fill. In 2018, there were 5.6 million buildings in the US, with 87 billion sq. ft. of space that needs to be managed. Combine that with the number of buildings that are being planned, and that paints an employment picture of emergency proportions from the owner’s side and a beautiful array of opportunity from the applicant side. Owners have to be ready to make opportunities available to a skilled applicant base.
Thank you NFMT and Sodexo for offering the occasion for women who are in the facilities field looking for advancement to hear advice and insights from top flight professionals. Thank you Telva M. McGruder, Audrey Schultz, and Celina Wilder for sharing the stories of the directions and shape of their career paths.