Published on: October 19, 2020
Ronnie is a highly organized and detail-oriented facilities management executive with extensive operations and facilities management experience in the real estate and construction industries. He manages a real estate and operations portfolio of 17 locations, including one in London. He also develops and maintains disinfecting and sanitization protocols for each office location and ensures that they are completed to the highest standard.
He has a proven track record of successfully managing relationships with executive management, architects, engineers, lawyers, insurance brokers and city officials throughout all phases of construction projects, from initial design and development to bid submission and approval. He is also a highly skilled negotiator, able to acquire cost-effective agreements with property managers, vendors and service providers and has experience managing multimillion-dollar budgets.
“Ronnie joined Solomon Page in May of 2020 and has proven himself invaluable to us as we navigate this new world order of safety and facility compliance. He has taken complete ownership of our 17 offices and has gained the trust and admiration of the entire employee population. We are so grateful to have him as part of the team.” – Kathy Brown, Chief Human Resources Officer at Solomon Page
What is one thing no one knows about you?
“I entered and won a planksgiving competition – planking over 9 minutes at Title Boxing Club in Forest Hills. I also rescued a person who fell onto the train tracks a minute before the next train was approaching. Proof that not all heroes wear capes.”😊
How did you get into the Facilities/Workplace field?
“I started working in the mailroom as an intern for Helen Keller International, and when an opening for an office services administrator position became available, I was the first person the company wanted for the position. Since my time at Helen Keller International, I worked at the Halo Group as an office manager for a little over 2½ years and wanted to grow. I moved on from the Halo Group and worked as a facilities manager for the Vilcek Foundation and ascended to the role of chief of facilities and security in 2017. After a little more than a decade with the Vilcek Foundation, I moved onto director of facilities for Solomon Page to expand on my breadth of knowledge in real estate and facilities operations.”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“One of the coolest projects I worked on was coordinating the installation of a major exhibition of photographs and memorabilia from the ABC/Disney hit television series “LOST” for the Vilcek Foundation. It was unreal to see a Mr. Cluck’s Chicken Shack costume and the famous ocean-blue VW van that Hurley drove around the island inside the Vilcek Foundation’s gallery space during the time of the exhibition. I even got to try on a Mr. Cluck’s costume, but don’t tell any of the costume designers I did this."😊
What is your greatest success story?
“One of my greatest success stories was going to college in the evening while working full-time as a Facilities Manager. One of my mom’s last wishes was to make sure that I finished college. I wasn’t that great of a student my first few years in college because I was content with the thought of being employed without a degree, but when my mom expressed that she wanted me to complete my bachelor’s degree before she lost her battle to cancer, a fire was lit under me to make my mom proud. That was a turning point in my life, as I knew I had to dedicate every ounce of energy I had to working full time and studying part time to finish my bachelor’s degree. I eventually earned my bachelor’s degree in International Economics from Marymount Manhattan College and then got a master’s degree from Columbia University in Construction Administration.”
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“One challenge I face in the real estate/facilities world is in the construction planning process of projects. The construction process in NY is a beast of its own. There’s many moving parts from planning, design, coordination, getting permits, site surveys, reviewing drawings and submittals as well as getting everyone on the project team to meet all the deliverables on time and on budget. Given the high level of details a construction project entails it’s important to stay organized, poised and to work on building the relationships you have with everyone involved in the construction process. Construction in NY is never easy, but by cultivating and fostering deep relationships with partners needed to complete a project can go a long way in making the whole process a little bit easier and enjoyable.”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FMs?
“One learning experience that I would pass onto future FMs is to constantly educate yourself and to seek mentors within the profession to guide you along the way. I’m a lifelong learner and encourage anyone just starting in this profession to read the IFMA newsletters and publications, attend their conferences, and to subscribe to Fast Company, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, etc., as there are many places to gain valuable insights on how you can contribute and make a deep impact for your company. I’m available for coffee, a chat, or to help navigate someone through a challenge if anyone would like to connect with me.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny, MCR, Operations Director of Business Development in the Americas at Mace Group, IFMA NYC Secretary & Executive Committee Oversight for the Communications Committee