“I have had the great pleasure of working with Ms. Annette Vega for nearly seven years in a Vendor capacity. We are very fortunate to work with someone so proactive, hardworking and highly professional. Among a long list of attributes, she has always treated our service employees with respect and dignity and seems to get the most out of all concerned on any given project. She exceeds expectations and is #1 on our charts.” - Kriss T. Gulbrandsen, President, Spectrum Building Services Inc.
This month’s FM Spotlight is Annette Vega, Facilities Operations Manager at the Global Media and Technology Company - Comcast NBC Universal. Annette has received 4 Ovation awards for her service at NBC as a Facilities Manager. Her recognitions were for Project Support during a new construction project, Customer Service just for the day-to-day client services and twice she received recognition for Above and Beyond the call of duty during two major Construction & Move projects. Annette has also been a nominee for the IFMA Awards of Excellence. Her nominations include Facilities Management Achievement and IFMA Distinguished Professional Member.
Tell us one thing that no one knows about you. “I love doing arts and crafts. I usually make all of my family and friends their holiday gifts. I can make anything from candles, beauty products and Jewelry. Whatever inspires me I will make. I am also known as being a great tarot card reader. “
How did you get into the Facilities Management world?
“My first job in this field was as an office Manager for OnHealth.com. Their start-up company was based in Seattle but they wanted to expand their sales force to New York City. They hired a woman I worked for in the past as an assistant to head up the sales team in NYC. At the time I was working at Conde Nast publications, but she contacted me none the less and asked me if I would take on the task and assist her on this new venture.
I resigned from my current job and decided to take on this new challenge. I did everything from working with the real estate brokers on obtaining a space to building out the space and having it ready in time. I have never done a startup before, but I soon came to realize that Facilities Management was my calling. Ever since then I have managed the facilities for WebMD, Oxygen Media at Chelsea Market and now Comcast NBC Universal in downtown Soho.”
Tell us about your favorite project highlight.
“One of my favorite project highlights was right after NBC acquired Oxygen and the new President of Oxygen needed to hire about 15 new employees. The project was to reconfigure a section on the 8th Floor to accommodate 15 new employees. He also wanted to move all the departments around so that the groups that worked more closely together were in the same area and not on different floors where there was minimal cross-communication. This would allow the groups to meet more as a combined team and not as an individual department.
When we sat together for the first time to discuss the matter – I remember his attitude towards me was that as if because he didn’t know me – as if I wasn’t up to the task. After we discussed his requests, he told me that he didn’t trust me and didn’t think that I was capable of handling this job by myself. My response was that I understood his concerns and he didn’t have to worry because I had a whole team and an amazing group of vendors that will make this project run smoothly. He looked at me with doubt and said – ‘this I got to see’. Of course after that discussion I was determined to make it happen. All the displaced employees were temporarily relocated into conference rooms we set up with desks, data/voice and all their needs to make sure they can continue working without interruption. I also made daily visits to the displaced employees to make sure that they were fine and if there were any issues they would be addressed immediately. All construction was done late in the evening and over the weekend.
After the completion of the project the executive called me down to his office. I have to admit I was scared at first because I immediately thought that he was going to be stubborn and no matter how well I did – he would find something negative to say. His response amazed me – he sat and looked at me and said – ‘you said you would do it and I didn’t believe you and I’m sorry that I didn’t. I’m very proud of the work you and your team accomplished’. After that he never doubted me again with any project he brought to my attention.”
What is your favorite success story?
“One of my favorite success stories was when my company was being acquired by another. Everyone in my department was just seating back and waiting for the layoffs to happen. I on the other hand decided to take matters into my own hands. I was heading out to the IFMA World Workplace Conference the following week and found out that my future boss was attending the same conference. I made it my goal to meet him and show him that I was an asset to the company and he needed to keep me. After talking to a few people, I found out that he was attending a private function with the executive board. I spoke to a couple of executive board members and explained to them my situation and they invited me to attend the cocktail party so I can meet my future boss.
When I arrived to the event – I walked over to him and introduced myself. He said that he had heard what I was up to and was curious to meet me as well. We talked for a while and I told him that I wanted him to meet me before he sat down to look at a piece of paper and start crossing names off the list and downsizing the department. At the end – I was the only one left and was asked to take over the entire department for the remote site and report directly to him. It was one of my proudest achievements.”
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Facilities Management world.“I know that you don’t want to hear this but every day is a challenge and obstacle in the world of facilities management. In facilities management, no problem is the same and every solution is completely different. That is what makes this job so much fun and challenging and it definitely keeps you on your toes!”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FM’s? “There are 3 rules I live by:
- Always acknowledge and create solid relationships with everyone from the top executive to the mailroom clerk. Strong relationships are one of the keys to a successful career.
- Never say ‘I don’t know how to do that’ – to me those are words of defeat. No one will take you seriously if you do. Take on the project/task, use your resources and your relationships as they are the keys that will help you figure out the situation, and have a successful outcome.
- Join an amazing organization like IFMA. From the Networking to the Educational programs, organizations like IFMA pave the way for someone to be successful in this field. I have developed amazing friendships and relationships with other FM’s and Vendors. These relationships have helped me shine in numerous occasions over the years.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary.