One of this month’s FM spotlights is Martin Sillen, Vice President of Facilities and Procurement at Ogilvy CommonHealth. Martin is an accomplished facilities professional who has had articles written about him and won numerous awards. Not only did Building Magazine write an article about him but he was also awarded the IFMA New York City Distinguished Professional Member of the Year award in 2005!
“As Chief Financial Officer, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of Facilities Professionals for almost 30 years and Marty Sillen is the best Facilities Manager I have ever worked with. Marty exhibits a level of expertise, intelligence and personal concern for everyone that I feel is unmatched in the industry.” - Robert Saporito - EVP, Chief Financial Officer, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“Folks don’t know that for 15 seasons I was a High School football and basketball official. I am also involved with the charity Beautiful People. Beautiful People provides sports programs and activities for children with disabilities. I am also involved with the American Heart Association. I have helped to raise over $100,000 for these two organizations in the last two years!”
How did you start your career?
“I am the last of a dying breed that can actually say I worked my up from the mailroom. I started out as a printer/mail clerk at Pace University. I then moved on to Bergdorf-Goodman then Facilities in Blue Ridge Winkler, Colt Industries, Willis, Coty Beauty and Zenith Optimedia.
Currently I have the best job working for the best company in the world, Ogilvy CommonHealth.
I can truly say I remember rotary phones, plug-in switch boards and when having a type writer with memory was a luxury!”
You have had quite the career. What type of projects have you worked on?
“I have worked on many office construction projects, company moves and space restacks (both growing and shrinking). My projects have included spaces as large as 400,000 sq. ft. and as small as 8,000 sq. ft.”
What is your greatest success story?
“When I think of my greatest success stories, two projects come to mind. The first was getting my company fully functional 24 hours after 9/11. My other success would be keeping our company operating in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. We couldn’t get back into our building for eight days! But we managed to keep the company moving forward using alternate space and systems”
What are some challenges and obstacles that you have experienced?
“Every day in the wonderful world of Facilities brings a new challenge. There is no such thing as an obstacle, only a challenge.
If you are confident in what you are doing and have a well trained staff, there are no obstacles, just challenges.
Lucky for me, I have been blessed with some of the best trained and knowledgeable facilities staffs in the industry.”
What advice would you give future FM’s?
“I have so much advice to give today’s FM’s and future FM’s.
Never lose your cool. Always treat the people you work with and the people who work for you with respect and dignity. Remember when colleagues yell at you because of a facilities problem, you didn’t cause it, you are there to fix it and prevent it from happening again.
Be tough, but fair with your vendors.
Always create a “we are a team” culture with Facilities and IT.
Do not ever think you are the end all who can never learn a new trick.
Never bring the job problems home with you.
Always say to yourself that my actions didn’t cause anyone to lose their life today, so it wasn’t a bad day.
And always, always, don’t be afraid to call one of your fellow IFMA members for advice. They will be happy to help you.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary.