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Networking Is Key to Success in Facility Management

Kris Byk of Wachtung Hills Regional High discusses the value of relationships in this industry

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor  

Kris Byk, director of operations for Wachtung Hills Regional Hills High School in Warren, New Jersey, never had a mentor in the facility maintenance industry, but he did have great bosses that helped shape his career. Drawing on that experience, he discusses the value of forging relationships through networking. 

FacilitiesNet: What did you think your career would be when you graduated from college/high school? 

Byk: To be honest, I really did not know what I would do as a full-time career. Growing up, I did landscaping, bodywork, general construction and masonry. It wasn't until I was 21 that I joined a masons union and was there for five years. After that, I came to the high school where I currently work now. 

FacilitiesNet: What was your first facilities-related job? 

Byk: My first facilities job was at the school that I currently work. I started as a grounds worker, then became the outside supervisor and head groundskeeper. As time went on, I became the manager of both buildings and grounds and then eventually the director of operations.  

FacilitiesNet: How important has professional networking been to you in facilities management?  

Byk: Networking is key in anything you do, especially facility management. There are others in your same position that have had the same problems and issues you have and can most definitely help. Also, I have found that by speaking and networking, you can find the difference between good and bad contractors and supply vendors. This is key to survival with even shrinking budgets. I feel one of the biggest things about networking is having the ability to have someone to vent to in order to help keep your sanity.  

FacilitiesNet: What has surprised you most about facilities management? 

Byk: The biggest things that have surprised me about facilities management are as follows: politics, public purchasing laws, regulations, compliance issues and shrinking budgets. As I stated above, I work at a public high school, and I must be in compliance across the board; i.e. safety, purchasing, regulations. All of these topics at times are not only difficult but sometimes impossible. 

If anyone tells you they are 100 percent compliant, they are lying. They can be 90 percent at best. Why, you ask? This is because many trades and laws overlap, thus making it impossible to be 100 percent. 

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The next is public bid laws. That's tough because you just can't purchase any goods or supplies without following the correct and proper procedures. Then there's all the politics and shrinking budgets. These two topics speak for themselves, and I will leave well enough alone because I could do a whole article on this topic. 

FacilitiesNet: Did you have a mentor at some point in your facilities management career? If so, how did having a mentor benefit you? 

Byk: I never had a mentor. However, I did have tons of great bosses that taught me values. Of these values, I think the biggest ones are honesty and integrity. No one likes a liar. Always be honest, no matter what and at what cost. Always maintain your integrity. You are only as good as your word and your values.  

FacilitiesNet: What would you tell someone just starting a career in facilities management? 

Byk: What I would tell someone starting a career in facilities management is to listen, learn and keep an open mind. Every facility and job has different requirements, personalities and cultures. By listening, you can find all the goods and bads of the facility. By learning the personalities and cultures, you can better serve the facility and all of its needs, thus moving it forward in a positive and creative manner. 

Dan Hounsell is the senior editor of the facilities market. 

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  posted on 4/12/2024   Article Use Policy

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