This month’s FM spotlight is James Camille, CFM, Managing Director and head of Global Real Estate Services at the multinational investment management corporation –BlackRock. James has held multiple board level roles with IFMA NYC and is the immediate past president.
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
"I was captain of my senior high school track team but do not enjoy running long distances. Nevertheless, I’ve still managed to run two marathons, London and Boston, because I like to challenge myself. The New York City Marathon remains on my bucket list."
How did you get into the Facilities field?
"I learned of the Facilities Management profession while pursuing a degree in architecture at the University at Buffalo. The dean of architecture told me about a pilot FM program they were developing via the School of Architecture & Planning called Facilities Management and it would require taking coursework from the schools of Business, Architecture, and Engineering. I was immediately intrigued by the prospect of building a career helping organizations adapt to ‘change’ through modernization, technology, and new ways of working.
During my summer vacations, I would attend IFMA NYC events. To this day, I still clearly remember how Cecilia Hass (Former Asst. Director Facilities Planning at Albert Einstein College) made me feel welcome and introduced me to the board.
I started my professional career as an Assistant Property Manager at a real estate management firm, while also pursuing a Master’s in Facilities Management from Pratt Institute. I had a real desire to leverage what I’d learned academically and apply it to a living, breathing organization. While completing my Master’s degree, I worked for the American Red Cross in Greater New York as the Risk and Facility Manager.
During my time with the American Red Cross, my supervisor, Brian Ostrowe (former President of IFMA NYC), was impressed with my ability to bring structure and apply my learnings from academia. When my supervisor left the American Red Cross for BlackRock in 1999, he invited me to join him. Looking back, I had no idea how my decision to join BlackRock would profoundly change my life. When I joined the firm we had a handful of offices and about 500 people. Eighteen years later, we’re a global firm with 76+ offices and more than 13,000 people, and I’m just as energized by the work I get to do every day."
What is your greatest success story?
"BlackRock’s growth has led to some great opportunities for me. I really enjoyed working in Hong Kong and London, developing high performing teams and constructing new regional headquarters globally. It was a unique opportunity to see the world and understand different cultures on a deeper level. You get to learn the regional and cultural differences which need to be respected and accounted for when designing and constructing space internationally. As our world becomes more integrated, these skills will be invaluable."
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you faced when you were President of IFMA NYC?
"One of the biggest challenges when you are President is to prioritize your agenda and distill it into achievable actions during a two-year term. It was both important and satisfying to personally carry forward the culture of inclusion I had experienced when I was first introduced to IFMA. I am also encouraged by the fact we continue to encourage our young and emerging talent to take leadership roles. One area we can still improve is doing a better job promoting the mentorship programs we’ve supported over the past few years."
What changes you have seen to the industry over the years and where you think it will be in the future?
"The convergence with technology in the FM industry has never been more prevalent. It has pushed the profession to think about the entire employee or client experience beyond the four walls of the structured environment. One example is the use of mobile devices which allow people to work from anywhere. It is an exciting time to create innovative solutions to provide safe, flexible, and productive workspaces untethered to a specific location."
What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s?
"Find something to be passionate about and continue to be curious about our changing industry. One of the aspects I enjoy about being a certified facility manager is the requirement we have to continually learn and stay engaged. It is also important to network and develop a personal board of directors you may call upon to give you honest feedback on your brand and skills."
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of Colliers International, IFMA NYC Secretary