Ken Abrahams – CareCentrix

Janet Acevedo – Hedge Fund

Luis Acevedo – Major League Soccer

Jacqueline Anderson – Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP

Kelcia Azevedo – Standard Chartered Bank

Vito Bacarella – UBS

John Barrie – Soros Fund Management LLC

Ken Beck – Société Générale

Gene Boniberger – Rudin Management

John Boyd – Liveramp

Christian Bryan – IAC

Chris Butterick – LinkedIn

John Buzzeo – NFL

James Camille – Blackrock

Katie Campofelice – LinkedIn

Robert Capua – Alliance Bernstein, L.P

Larry Charlip – Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.

Jonathan Coun – Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc.

Daniel Crespo – Facilities Management Professional

Steven Daza – Uber

Jim Derasmo – AIG

Jay Feiertag – Fedcap Rehabilitation Services, Inc.

Emily Feld – Datadog

Gary Fescine – BlackRock

Sally Fisher – American Red Cross

Brian Foreman – IPG, Mediabrands Worldwide

Mark Freda – Soros Fund Management

Saeid Garebaglow – WeWork

Pamela Georges-Cohen – The CDM Group

Rick Goff – SiriusXM Radio

Stuart Goldberg – SiriusXM Radio

Paul Haley – Wolters Kluwer

Phillip Henry Jr. – Coty

Rosie Hobbs – Flatiron Health

Frank Horak – Arnold & Porter LLP

Kiley Larsen – Dentsu Aegis Network

Alex Liz – Duff & Phelps

Peter Lorenz – Kaye Scholer, LLP

Edward Luciano – Endurance

Michael McCabe – Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP

Teri Meek – Skidmore Owings & Merrill, LLP

Andrea Megnin - Barclays

Ayda Melo-Taveras – WeWork

Rosalie Mignano – IMG Worldwide

Thomas Miner – Kaplan

Colleen Moran – NBCUniversal

Nancy Ng – The Rockefeller Foundation

Anne O’Driscoll – Young & Rubicam

Lorien Olsen – OnDeck

Katy Ostrander – The Community Preservation Corporation

Lawrence Palfini – Tiffany & Company

Daniel Pego – Con Edison of NY

Joseph Portelli – Marubeni America Corporation

Floyd Primavera – GroupM

Irving Ramos – Kantar

Michelle Reynolds – Robert Half

Marc Rubin – Moet Hennessy USA

Gabrielle Rubin Deveaux – BuzzFeed

Joe Russo – Conde Nast

Larry Sadler – AOL/Oath

Audrey Schultz – Pratt

Martin Sillen – Ogilvy CommonHealth

Lydell Simmons – E*TRADE Financial

Carl Thomas – Kaplan

Sherrylynn Trotta – Proskauer Rose LLP

John Vazquez – Verizon

Annette Vega – Comcast NBC Universal

Erick Velez – Yext

Richard Warner – Evercore

Brigitte Zaki – Apollo Global Management, LLC

Jill Zunshine – Hewlett-Packard Company

Michael Zwang – BDO

FM Spotlight

Erick Velez – Yext

Erick Velez has been with Yext since 2012 and has helped create the Facilities Department from the ground up. His responsibilities include overseeing Facilities Operations, Space Planning and Construction for all Yext offices. His focus is to ensure that Facilities is continually looking to improve processes, increase levels of service and evolve as the workplace strategy continues to change.

“Erick has dedicated six years to help build Yext’s facilities standard, and I don’t use the word “dedicated” loosely; of Erick’s many strengths are his strong work ethic and service skills. Managing our 95,000 square foot NYC headquarters, Erick has worked with leadership to keep up with a growing headcount, orchestrating the logistics to occupy our current space and nimbly adapting to changing needs to continually shift teams to support effective workplace strategies. Additionally, he’s taken the lead to open our Chicago and San Francisco offices.” John Houfe, Senior Director, Real Estate & Facilities at Yext

What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“I have a deep love for rescuing animals in Puerto Rico. Every year, I volunteer my time to work with a sanctuary to rescue strays from the streets—including my dog, Fe (Faith in Spanish).

Something else that people don’t know about me is that I was born and raised in Chelsea, New York. Growing up, I worked in the Meatpacking District, when it was still an actual Meatpacking District and my greatest memory was working at Frank’s Meat, where the Apple store is now!”

How did you get into the Facilities/Real Estate field? 
“When I started as a maintenance worker for Time Inc. supporting all of the Magazine Groups, I was gifted the opportunity to see firsthand what it entailed to manage 40 floors and was always thinking of ways to improve the level of customer service we provided for the company. Right there, I knew then that I wanted to have a career in Facilities. It felt so natural to me. So, to understand the full scope and help me take it to the next level, I took jobs as a receptionist, Facilities coordinator and studio manager to learn the business of Facilities from the ground up and I never looked back!”

Tell us about a favorite project highlight. 
“One of my favorite projects was helping to visualize and build a video studio for the Yext marketing team, along with being the first to be interviewed by the video producer! Since I managed a photo studio previously, my decision making came natural in the buildout process on everything from vignettes to video to photography – what a great experience!”

What is your greatest success story?
“I would say simply, the trajectory of my career at Yext. When I joined in December 2012, there were roughly 100 employees at our then Chelsea Market home. I was tasked with a move that would take place that January 2013 in a space that was only 25,000 square feet of space, so I only had a few weeks to prepare. Then afterwards, I was tasked to assist in building out 75,000 square feet of raw office space while still managing the remaining 25,000 square feet of occupied space; having no disruption to the business and meeting all deadlines, along with building out a team from scratch.

Fast forward, we are now over 1,000 employees and growing fast. The secret is not to take any day for granted. Stay humble and continue to challenge yourself daily to exceed expectations to support the growth of the company.”

Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“The biggest challenge I face as a Facilities Manager is continuing to establish a real estate plan when new teams and products are developed, and forecasting is not in place. In a growing company you hope that all stakeholders subscribe to your vision when putting in a plan of action for space.”

What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s?
“Stay humble and respect all building services, security guards, coordinators and cleaning staff. At the end of the day, you need their support to be successful.

I would also say my advice is to have honest conversations, treat everyone you meet like a family member and always remember that everyone has loved ones like you do. We are humans. Dig deep and reflect. We are all the same at the end of the day.”

Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary