Jobs That Let You See the World: Facilities Manager
Since my current job keeps me pretty rooted in one place, I recently interviewed a series of professionals in diverse careers whose jobs let them earn a living and see the world at the same time — the goal is to provide some information and inspiration to all the cubicle dwellers out there who are feeling restless.
I met Sara at last year’s Women in Travel Summit (WITS). She is a fellow Bostonian who is the organizer of Wanderful Boston and the operations & logistics chair for WITS 2017. Her job with an engineering firm allows her to travel frequently throughout the U.S. to oversee office openings and expansions, attend vendor meetings or conduct trainings. She recently started a blog called Time Exposed Travel to share her photo essays.
Name: Sara Weiskotten
Job: National Facilities Manager (within Operations) for an environmental engineering firm
What motivated you to pursue this job?
The position I am in now is not one I even knew existed before I was offered it a few years ago, but I can honestly say it was what I didn’t realize I had been looking for all along! I have been with my company for almost seven years now, and while holding a different position I was able to assist the person who was previously in my current role. This allowed me to be introduced to what Facility Management entailed, and when the company began expanding and my current position opened up because my predecessor was promoted, I was able to move into it with a previous understanding of what it might entail.
What are the perks of this job?
Travel and versatility! Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to travel to locations within the U.S. that I probably wouldn’t have gone to for years. This country is so vast, and is often overlooked by avid travelers who want to start far away first (I’ll be the first to admit I’m also guilty of this when planning my personal travel).
My company is spread throughout the country, with about 25 locations and always growing. Traveling to an office allows me to work face to face with many of the co-workers or teaming partners I interact with over email or phone on a day-to-day basis. Getting out of the office and being hands on when overseeing and planning an office opening or expansion project helps keep me inspired during the many months that the process takes from start to finish.
What are some of the challenges?
Overseeing and managing such a wide range of tasks that are often not taking place where I am physically located day to day can sometimes be challenging. This involves a lot of follow up and triple checking to make sure tasks are complete, whether that be during the lease review and negotiation phase, working with the construction team during an office build out, or continually checking in to ensure the schedule is on track and will be completed by the target deadline. When these projects overlap, as they often do, I could be working on one stage for one location, and on a completely different one for another, so being organized is key to staying on top of it all.
Do you have any advice for others considering this job?
If you have an interest in both the real estate and facilities management world, this type of position is something that might interest you. Every company with office space has someone who does this, or a team of people, whether it be internally or contracted externally. It does involve a good deal of work outside of “normal” business hours, but if you are the type of personality who works until something is completed, and enjoy that, then this career path would be something to consider.
The travel is a huge benefit in my eyes, because it not only gives me a visual of the space I’m working on, but also I’m able to have a more personable interaction with the vendors I’m working with as well as the local staff.
What’s one lesson that you’ve learned in all of your work-related travels?
Take it all in. Often times when traveling for work there are meetings you are rushing to or agenda items you are focused on completing that take top priority. Don’t forget to stop and take a look around at this new part of the world you are now lucky enough to be visiting. This could be as simple as taking the time to look up a great restaurant locals would recommend or finding one with a great view of the city, rather than just grabbing food from the first place you see.
Also, if you have options on what time of day you fly, consider flying in earlier in the day or taking the last flight out that night so you can have a few hours to get a taste for the city you are in.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Traveling can be exhausting, especially when business travel is often times jam-packed from start to finish. Make sure to take care of yourself during the trip by remembering to stay hydrated, going for a walk in the hotel gym (or better yet outside if the weather allows) and getting as much sleep as possible.
Travel is a privilege that I do not take lightly, and although the day to day grind can sometimes make some trips seem less than glamorous, I’m still able to get out and explore a new corner of the world!
Banner image: Sara in Ireland