Published on: February 17, 2015
This month’s FM spotlight is Ken Beck, Director, Deputy Head of Corporate Real Estate Services (CRES) for the leading financial services group – Société Générale. Ken has been with Société Générale for over 16 years and was an integral part of the highly publicized move to 245 Park Avenue.
"Ken has been with Société Générale for over 16 years and brings a unique set of skills to his new role within CRES. As the Deputy Head of Corporate Real Estate Services for the Americas Ken will be responsible for several Facilities functions including operations, planning and construction administration and security. His prior experience in Finance, cost and expense control as well as lease portfolio analysis will raise the service level bar of the department to new heights." – Phil Bottega, Head of Corporate Real Estate Services (CRES) for the Americas at Société Générale
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“I am a long time youth soccer coach and executive board member for our town soccer club.”
How did you get into the Facilities field?
“I started at my career with Société Générale in 1998. Most recently, I was the Support Function CFO reporting directly to the Americas COO. In 2004, I was part of the real estate project team whose goal was to relocate the back office support functions to the Newport Office Complex in Jersey City. This initial project was completed in 2005. However, over the subsequent two years SG continued to expand its footprint in Jersey City by adding two additional floors to the portfolio for a total of 180,000 rent-able square footage. My responsibilities for this program focused on economic and financial analysis and lease reviews.
In 2009, Société Générale began its search for a new NYC headquarters, where I was once again on the strategic relocation project team.
Once our relocation to 245 Park was completed , I was promoted to my current role of Deputy Head of Corporate Real Estate Services. This allowed me to bring my, Accounting background into the Corporate Real Estate Services space – creating the perfect blend for a full-service CRES team!”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“I have been involved in SG’s headquarters relocation program since 2009 when Société Générale began its search for our new premises. This search included evaluating numerous locations in Manhattan. Specifically, my involvement in the program at that stage was to compare and measure the financial impacts associated with each location to better enable management in its decision making process.
Once 245 Park was chosen to be our new home, my responsibilities were to engineer the accounting treatment for the building costs (capital and operating expense) over the life of the lease with our external auditors, as well as monitor the capital spent on construction and technology costs to the approved budget. At this Park Avenue location, we also had some space on the market for sub-lease where my responsibilities included financial review and analysis of all sublease deals.”
What was the biggest challenge on the project?
“There have been numerous challenges along the way. The main one was engineering the long-term accounting treatment for rent obligations, construction cost amortization, landlord improvement contributions, future restoration costs and sublease income over the life of the lease. Secondary to this was the challenges to understand and manage the large scale construction costs from a payment and processing point of view.”
What has been most fulfilling and satisfying about working on the project team?
“I’ve taken great satisfaction in knowing that I’ve helped Société Générale build a workplace for the 21st century. 245 Park is a premium space offering a better technological infrastructure than anything our organization has ever had in the US before. Our new home, in a very prestigious neighborhood of Manhattan, will provide easy access to employees and clients.”
What advice would you pass onto future FM’s?
"Celebrate success and have fun. The team must share in the leader’s vision. Every manager must be a great communicator."
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary.