FM Spotlight

Brian Foreman – IPG, Mediabrands Worldwide

This month’s FM spotlight is Brian Foreman, Director of Real Estate for the publicly traded advertising company – IPG, Mediabrands Worldwide.

Brian oversees approximately 1,000,000 square feet, and annual costs in the region of $25,000,000. His overview of daily activities includes working with senior management to understand and anticipate business needs and review space requirements for each business unit within the IPG Mediabrands group. In addition, he examines how to optimize the efficiency of occupied leased facilities and capitalize on benefits from surplus assets while coordinating the safe, secure, and environmentally-sound operations and maintenance of assets to reduce operating expenses. Through focused management he has reduced costs, improved the space utilization and working conditions, and returned capital for investment in core business activities.

“Brian’s vast knowledge of both real estate and the media business he supports makes him an indispensable member our BU partnership team. IPG’s Mediabrands group has been in the forefront of challenging how they occupy their space and what this means for delivering award winning solutions to the clients. Brian’s involvement in bridging the business and real estate needs, has led to Mediabrands successfully delivering an open-address real estate solution for one of their businesses and this is now being adopted by Mediabrands other groups.” - Jonathan Coun, Associate Director CRE, Interpublic Group

What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“When I graduated from high school and before going to university, I wanted to be a pilot in the Royal Naval Fleet Air Arm. My cousin had done this and I thought it to be exciting and an adventure. Schoolboy attitude, serve my country and be a patriot. So I decided to apply to the Royal Naval College in Hampshire, England. I arrived excited. Anticipated a glamourous career travelling the world and flying at 600 mph. Unfortunately, following my medical examination, I was told that I am red/green color blind and this would prevent me being able to land on an aircraft carrier at night. In fact, it would create a problem trying to land anywhere at night.”

How did you get into the Facilities field?
“I went to university and studied real estate management, finance and town planning. Following an internship with a local municipality and a three-year stint overseas for a real estate company, I was offered a job with the Canadian Government, upon my return to London. This job was to oversee Canadian Government offices and real estate operations in a region and on an as needed basis, assist with other related entities. Although I was a United Kingdom citizen, they decided my experience was a perfect fit for their operation out of London, even though I was not Canadian.”

Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“I was contracted to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), for 5 years. This position entailed the liquidation of real estate and leased assets in a $2.3 billion receivership. The process required analysis of real estate sale reviews, appraisals, lease agreements and appropriate legal documentation enabling evaluation of legal opinions to determine correct actions. Careful oversight was needed in the monitoring of marketing and asset management issues, especially regarding implementing procedures for tax abatements. Finally, recommendations were presented to the committee for appropriate and inexpensive ways to collect on distressed assets for maximum present value with the earliest practical collection period. The final result, liquidation was complete in under four years at a recovery rate between 65% and 70% of original value.”

What is your greatest success story?
“This has been to assist in accommodating the needs of IPG Mediabrands throughout North America and Canada. As an example, IPG leased the 4th floor at 100 West 33rd Street and we designed this floor to accommodate 570 people in an open plan free address, free seating design. Breakout rooms were provided for meetings and private telephone rooms for sensitive conversations. In addition, there is a grand stand seating area for town hall meetings, concerts and lectures as well as a café, and a beer garden to enhance teamwork. The challenge was convincing staff to leave their offices. The success of this and other redesigned office spaces has resulted in better internal collaboration between functions, business units and individual staff members. This project was nominated and won the Innovation Award at the 2016 IFMA NYC Awards for Excellence."

Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“The biggest challenge continues to be balancing the needs of our corporate leadership by incorporating new design, open plan offices and technology to support their business objectives and to do so on time and on budget.”

What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s?
“Be open minded, flexible and above all, patient.”

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