This month’s FM spotlight is Alexandra Liz, Director, Global Real Estate & Facilities at premier global valuation and corporate finance advisor, Duff & Phelps. Alex is a big supporter of IFMA NYC and won the Facilities Management Achievement: Facilities Management and Project Planning Award at this year's IFMA NYC Awards for Excellence Dinner.
“Our real estate and facilities expense is one of the most significant line items in the Company. Alex has done an excellent job managing that expense while also introducing a forward thinking office and space planning model that benefits the company and its employees.”- Brett Marschke, the Chief Operating Officer, Duff & Phelps
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“As a mom I enjoy working on art projects with my three daughters - a 10 year old, and 7 year old twins. As a free-spirited adult I enjoy a fine brandy and good cigar.”
How did you get into the Facilities field?
“I graduated from Cooper Union with a BA in Architecture in 2000. After working in a small architectural firm, I realized that I wanted to take my career to a new level and apply my knowledge and abilities in the “built environment” side of the business. Over the span of the next 8 years, I worked as a project manager with the Department of Homeless Services renovating shelters and as a project manager with the University of Medicine & Dentistry in New Jersey designing clinical suites and renovating study halls. I then moved onto a more creative position in design and planning at Meadows Office Furniture.
In 2008, I took a very big step in my career and accepted a position as a consultant at Duff & Phelps, a premier global valuation and corporate finance advisor. I had the good fortune of working with a wonderful mentor and leader, Melissa Armenti. Over the past year, Melissa moved on in her career and that opened the door for my advancement at Duff & Phelps. I’m so proud to be working with such a great team and such a great company at Duff & Phelps, and I was honored when they offered me a promotion to the level of Director of the Global Real Estate & Facilities Group.
I now manage a portfolio with 75 locations consisting of 700,000 SF. My responsibilities include Real Estate, Facilities Management, Design and Construction, and Workplace Planning and Management.”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“When you are managing 75 properties worldwide, it is hard to select one location over another. I have recently completed important projects in London, Singapore, Los Angeles, and New York. One project that does stand out is the work we completed in our Hong Kong office this past summer. It was very special as it combined many facets and intrigue including the integration of Duff & Phelps with two other companies, which we acquired earlier this year.
Understanding the intricacies of each group, managing expectations along side of the client’s restrictions, and then delivering on the user group’s wish list, resulted in a very dynamic space, which is now enjoyed by the collective larger group.”
What is your greatest success story?
“When I was called into the office of the Chief Operating Officer at Duff & Phelps, I was told that the Executive Committee had taken notice of my work over the past seven years, and they wanted to me to step into the position I am currently in as the Director of the company’s portfolio. As a young Latina female leader hearing those words meant a lot to me. It is a great professional and personal success story that I am very proud of and reminds me of how lucky we are to live in a country where you are measured by your results and provided with opportunity based upon your true potential.”
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“A key challenge for me is managing the delicate balance of the Duff & Phelps corporate brand and incorporating the local city vibe into the design of each location. My Global Real Estate team strives to ensure that the local team feels that their office represents them as a group so they take great pride in their space, which in turn helps them function and manage expectations most appropriately.”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s?
“My advice to future FM’s; continue learning, invest in yourself and dare yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Regardless of how many years of experience you may have there are always new techniques and procedures to be learned.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary.