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Industry Gathers to Celebrate and Discuss Women in FM at NFMT


By Naomi Millán Facilities Management
From the left, Telva McGruder, Audrey Schultz, and Celina Wilder on the stage at NFMT.

Keeping true to your goals and forging your own path forward were some of the themes discussed in the 2019 Women in FM roundtable at NFMT in Baltimore.

The panel discussion, structured as a highly interactive conversation with the audience, featured three panelists, including Telva McGruder, director, facilities engineering and manufacturing operations, sustainable workplaces, at General Motors; Audrey Schultz, associate professor, Pratt Institute; and Celina Wilder, due diligence/ transition team member North American service operations, Sodexo.

After discussing their career paths, the panel addressed a variety of questions from the audience of over 100 NFMT attendees. Schultz, who has a PhD in facilities management, spoke to learning the value of making your career desires known to upper management. “Otherwise, they’ll be happy to keep you in the same position forever,” she said.

On strategies for overcoming obstacles, McGruder advised people “merge with the energy” of the challenges they are facing. A longtime practitioner of martial arts, she brings the lessons of the dojo to bear on her daily work. You have to work with the challenge you’re facing, because otherwise “you’re going to get hurt,” she said.

When asked about how to deal with discouraging advice from a coworker or supervisor, Wilder’s concept of a “don’t care” elixir was well-received. Once she has set her mind to achieve a goal, she doesn’t let mean-spirited negativity stop her. Early in her engineering career, Wilder says she was made to feel like a unicorn. She hopes conversations like the Women in FM panel will help someone coming up now not feel like a unicorn themselves.

The networking reception immediately following the panel was sponsored by Sodexo.

Naomi Millán is senior editor of Building Operating Management. She moderated the Women in FM panel.

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