Published on: February 17, 2015
This month’s FM spotlight is Pamela Georges-Cohen, Senior Vice President, Director of Facilities & Office Services at leading global healthcare advertising communications company – The CDM Group. Pam is on the Board of Directors for NAMI (National Alliance Mental Illnesses) and an active fundraiser for the American Heart Association.
“Pam is a top notch facilities professional. She is smart, talented, well-liked by all and truly understands the value of customer service. Pam is an effective manager. Her team has scored amongst the top of the agency in employee satisfaction survey results every year since she came on board. Pam is an asset to any company and I hope to have the pleasure of working with her again in the future.” - Kit Tomaselli Kempler, Human Resources Director at BGB New York (Worked with Pam at the CDM Group)
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“I was a learning disabilities teacher by education. I always wanted to be a journalist. I LOVE ANIMALS and support many causes that benefit them.
How did you get into the Facilities field?
“I began my facilities and office services career in 1992 at what was then Coopers & Lybrand (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers) as an Office Services Supervisor. I worked at 1251 6th Avenue which was then the National Headquarters with the Practice Office located at 1301 6th Ave.
In my role as Office Services Supervisor I interacted with Senior Leadership (Chairman, Vice Chairs, CFO, EA's and their respective teams). I had no experience in Office Services, but I knew how to work with all levels, manage priorities and manage a budget.
The first three months of my job, I spent working with the Senior Leadership team and their staff to raise the service bar and find ways to get their needs met. It was a very exciting fast paced career opportunity. We managed over one million square feet of real estate. I worked in conjunction with the Real Estate, Construction, Travel and Purchasing Departments as well.”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“In addition to growing my career from a supervisor to a manager, I had the opportunity to be involved in many cutting edge facilities projects, such as participating in exploring and defining the concept of implementing ‘Hoteling work spaces ‘ of staff who traveled more than 70% of the time. As part of that project we worked closely with our phone service provider to create and evaluate what we needed from a phone system to support this.
This led to the creation and installation of an online reservation system, along with on-site Kiosks where you checked in. Once checked in, your phone extension was automatically switched to the location you would be sitting at for the day, week etc. As hard as it is to fathom today.....computers were in their infancy during this time.”
What is your greatest success story?
“At NEWSWEEK magazine, I was part of the team that created, managed and implemented a Business Continuity Plan. This was during a very challenging time right after 9/11. There were anthrax scares with Hazmat suits, the FBI and several outstanding groups of NYC first responders and emergency services teams. We had mail sterilization machines and mail opening rooms. I was one of the first, Facilities leaders to have photoluminescence tape installed on and in the stair ways before it became part of post 9/11 building code. We had food, water, flash lights and emergency supplies to shelter in place should we need to.
During the blackout, we had about 125 people who couldn't get home. I worked with great people and had amazing people on my teams. And during all of the craziness of that time period, we were always able to work and never missed publishing our magazine.”
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“I have always worked in male dominated industries but have always had the good fortune to have worked for incredibly smart talented women. I have also chosen not to focus on the issue of gender.”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s?
“My advice to future FM’s is to remember that above all, your most important asset and the key to your overall success, is the people on your team. I say and mean this, that I am only as good as they are. Thank them. Give them credit for their contributions and make sure that when you have the opportunity to showcase their talents to the stakeholders, that you do.
Listening is critical, as I believe that you can learn something from every person and experience you encounter. Look at any problem or challenge as an opportunity to make someone else’s life better!
Treat people nicely and with respect no matter what position they hold. Build relationships and remember to be flexible and open. We are working in world that is constantly changing, we need to be able to move with the changes and be open to new ideas and finding other solutions.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary.