Collegial Atmosphere Leads To FM Success at Rockefeller
At Rockefeller, Kogan prizes the loyalty of his facilities staff, and implicitly trusts them to get the job done.
Facilities management is a profession known for long tenures, but the folks at Rockefeller take it to another level. Kogan has oversight of both the physical plant and housing, with about 170 full-time employees. His two decades at the institution are drops in the bucket compared to some of his colleagues. An administrative assistant recently retired after 55 years. A head electrician is set to retire after 54 years. “People come and stay here and feel this is their second home, and they take great ownership and pride in working and trying to move science along,” says Kogan.
The Mayor of Rockefeller: Alex Kogan, associate vice president of plant operations and housing, leads a tight-knit facilities team in the service of science at The Rockefeller University.Photo: The Rockefeller University
But that kind of synergy and loyalty doesn’t just happen. Kogan prioritizes hiring talented individuals, and then he gets out of their way. “When we hire, I like people who roll up their sleeves, get it done, and work the way I work,” Kogan says. “I’m not a micromanager. I can see when the work is done and when it’s not done. I have very bright people. If they need me I’m here but I don’t feel like I need to be telling them what to do unless they need my help.”
Stepanchak says that trust is very freeing. “He’s not going to check behind you and have a gotcha moment,” he says. “I’ve worked for people who try to do that and it’s not fun. You’re freed up to do what your talent allows you to do. I’m a mechanical guy. I can solve technical problems. You can try something new without fear.”
In addition to giving his team the freedom to use their skills to get the job done, Kogan is also very interested in hearing everyone’s input. Often, it’s ultimately his call what direction to take but he readily offers that the best idea might not come from him. “Sometimes if I’m sitting in the back of the shop and ask the guys how they would do this particular project, sometimes the most simple answer is something nobody at the high-level thought of,” Kogan says. He recommends facility managers always find a way to hang out with the team and bounce ideas off of them.