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As hundreds of audience members have discovered at our big annual NFMT Baltimore conferences, one of the most stimulating of the many fine presentations is the “Women in FM” panel discussion, which is planned and moderated by my BOM colleague Naomi Millan. At last month's conference, listeners couldn’t help but chuckle at a comment referencing the continuing issue of widespread Baby Boomer retirements among facility managers and the need to replace them with a new generation of FMs.
One of the panelists, Laurie Gilmer, vice president of Facility Services at Facility Engineering Associates, humorously observed that somehow, youngsters just don’t put facility management on their list of “What I want to be when I grow up” jobs. Unlike becoming, for example, a fireman, a star athlete, or a world-famous pop singer.
Hard to argue with that. But as a relative newcomer to the world of facility management as a journalist, I’ve been impressed by the kind of jobs, and the number of jobs, to be had in this field. Anyone listening to last month’s panel discussion would have to be inspired by how interesting and ever-changing the day-to-day job of an FM can be.
As one of the panelists noted, IFMA is addressing the retirement problem, and that organization probably doesn’t need any more advice from a trade journalist. But I hope they’re trying to get the message about “good careers in FM” out to the level of guidance counselors in high schools, as well as career counselors at the college level. I’m not sure the level of general awareness of this field as an appealing career choice is anywhere near where it needs to be among these counselors.
FM is just not on the career radar screen yet in a big enough way. When I think about the types of minds drawn to my own field of journalism, many of these individuals could also succeed at FM, if they linked their information-processing skills and curiosity to the necessary technical training — and if they even knew about the field, which is doubtful. In forsaking journalism for facility management, they would also avoid what has become an increasingly compressed industry and a precarious career.
This Quick Read was compiled by Ronald Kovach, Managing Editor of Building Operating Management magazine, email@example.com.