This month’s FM spotlight is Irving Ramos, the North America Facilities Director for Kantar (A WPP Company). Irving oversees approximately 410,000 square feet and annual cost of $10 million. His overview of daily activities includes working for WPP Real Estate division and other senior management to understand and anticipate business needs and review space requirements for each of the 12 operation brands within the Kantar Group. In addition to this role, his responsibilities include building out new offices, space planning, restacking, contract negotiations, vendor management, repair, maintenance and leasehold improvements, HVAC and managing the Emergency management notification response system IRIS ALERT (Immediate Response Information System).
"Irving has been working with me for the past 8 years. He is exceptionally knowledgeable and talented in facilities management, very thorough in his work and approaches every project and responsibility thoughtfully and strategically, always keeping the company's objectives and best interests in mind. But in addition to all this, Irving always finds time to also look after the employees and through his role, is constantly pursuing ways to improve the employee work experience. He is an absolute pleasure and we are very lucky to have him on our team." – Amy Silverstein, CFO, Kantar Media North America & Global Vermeer
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“I am not an expert by any means nor pretend to be but I love listening to Classical music. I find it that it is stimulating. It also relaxes me, improves my sleep, reduces stress and I believe it helps me lower my blood pressure.”
How did you get into the Facilities field?
“I began my professional career as a Paralegal working at the MTA law department located at 130 Livingston St. while also attending John Jay College. It was during that time I was assigned a project in which I had to do some research on properties that they were trying to see if they can sell. Being that I was new and had some real estate questions, I didn’t want to go back to my boss with what I thought were basic questions. Lucky for me, I had made friends with the Facilities Manager and was able to pick his brain. After he helped and mentored me several times, I knew I wanted to get into this field. Managing and fixing properties caught my eye.
As I had no experience in Facilities, I took an office services manager/facilities clerk job at Esanu Katsky Korins & Siger (now it’s called Katsky Korins) and as they say the rest is history. Through dedication and a lot of hard work, I have managed to progress in all my jobs since then and worked my way up to where I am today."
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“There have been several project highlights throughout my career. Whenever you can see a project from the ground up to completion it’s a great achievement. Especially when you have a say or serious involvement in the design and construction, building out new space or re-stacking, procurement process, space planning, food services, security, AV, medical services, contract negotiations, vendor management, maintenance, etc... That’s when you get that proud feeling of owning the project!
But, if I need to narrow it down to one project I would say that it would be my current colocation project that has GroupM and Kantar moving into 3 WTC in August 2018. Kantar is taking up 80k not including all the shared amenities spaces. The combined total Square footage of the entire space is about 750k. This will turn out to be a beautiful and well thought out project.”
What is your greatest success story?
“In addition to my wonderful wife and three beautiful daughters? I would have to say earning the respect of the staff, senior managers and the organization. I have become a valuable asset to the organization seeking my input and opinions on mostly all facility related matters across North America.”
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“One of the challenges I face while working with the 12 different operating brands under the Kantar Umbrella is that all of them have very different personalities. Dealing with a dissatisfied Stakeholder can be challenging so I try to put myself in their shoes and fully understand where they're coming from. At the same time I logically inform them of the rules and policies which are set in place and explain the specific reasoning behind them.”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s?
“Educate yourself! Take as many Facility educational courses that you can. Get your IMFA certification. Keep up with the ever-changing environment and the newest trends. Keep meticulous records and be organized. Know your organization inside and out. Surround yourself with talented workers. What really worked for me was that I surrounded myself with a very knowledgeable network of facilities managers and directors that I can pick their brains when needed.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary