FMA communications committee member Sonya Verny recently had the pleasure of meeting with the renowned John Buzzeo, NFL Vice President of Human Resources and Administration. After almost 2 hours together, she can attest to the fact that he is much more than just the man who coordinated the construction and design of the NFL’s new office space on Park Avenue in New York City. He is truly the embodiment of the NFL spirit and vision.
The NFL’s New York Headquarters were designed by Ted Moudis Associates. Here’s what Ted Moudis has to say about John Buzzeo: “I have known John for over 25 years and friendship aside, he is one of my greatest clients. From eating and breathing the NFL, to knowing how to put together the right team, John is someone who is forward thinking, can make anyone laugh, and truly knows how to motivate the people on his team to succeed.”
John is a fascinating raconteur who keeps you on the edge of your seat and inspires you with his amazing journey.
John grew up in up Corona, New York and holds both a bachelors and master’s degree from St. John's University. Although he has been with the NFL for the past 26 years, John’s career began at CIT Service Leasing, where he was involved in commercial auto leasing. Through hard work and tenacity, John learned to follow his instincts and intuition, eventually moving to CBS where he became their first Fleet Administrator. He was essentially responsible for all company owned and leased vehicles for every division throughout the U.S.
John spent 15 years at CBS in various capacities within the Corporate, Purchasing and Publishing divisions. Ultimately, John transitioned to Human Resources within the CBS Publishing Division. He served as the Employee Relations Manager and then as Director of HR, Administration and Facilities.
When CBS decided to sell their publishing division, as the senior HR executive, John was instrumental in assisting over 1200 employees in their career transition.
How did John end up at the NFL? After applying for a position as the Director of HR for a “major entertainment organization” and sitting through five interviews, John was one of the top 2 candidates out of a field of several hundred candidates. However, initially he did not get the position. Through a strange twist of fate, two weeks later John was called back for yet another interview and eventually landed the job. The rest is history.
What do you love about working for the NFL?
“Obviously, as an HR professional, I am a people person. This is what I love about the NFL; our employees are passionate about the business and are consistently challenging the status quo. My role allows me to interact with just about everyone in the organization and this is what drives me. I have worked under three different NFL commissioners and it has been an outstanding experience for me. What sets our organization apart is that we have a dynamic and innovative environment and that we truly care about our people and our fans. Many of our important initiatives revolve around player safety and the fan experience, which demonstrates the NFL’s commitment to its people.”
What are you focused on in your current role?
“A large portion of my focus is on strategic HR initiatives relative to the performance management process, employee development and promotion, as well as employee satisfaction. In my administrative role I direct worldwide real estate strategy, facilities and office services functions, T&E Policy and procedures, company store, procurement and the travel department. I have a diverse set of responsibilities that consistently keeps me challenged. I am able to manage a large scope of responsibilities with the assistance of a very diverse and talented team of employees.”
What is the greatest challenge or obstacle that you face?
“I am entrusted with making decisions that will impact the employee environment and experience. I have to ensure that every contract I negotiate is the best possible deal for the NFL. My challenge is to show value and ensure quality in every aspect of my business. I need to demonstrate that I am spending the owner’s money as if it were my own.”
How do you accomplish that?
“First, I focus on building solid relationships and outstanding teammates. Also, I have learned that you can accomplish much more by being positive rather than negative. My role requires me to be a good negotiator and to be firm. I have learned that it is important to deliver difficult messages in a positive manner.”
Your space won the 2013 IFMA Design & Construction of a New Facility award. Tell me about your space.
“In the process of creating a space that was representative of the NFL culture, I built a construction and design team that was second to none. The team included Ted Moudis Associates, J.T. Megan and Company, Robert Director Associates, Jack Morton Worldwide Design and our own in-house creative and facilities teams, which made the project truly collaborative. We wanted the space to unique. However, working with budget constraints we had to be both resourceful and creative.
Each floor represents a different aspect of the football culture. We have over 200,000 square feet with different themes on each floor.
The 5th floor is designed around the Game with conference rooms named Combine, Draft, Training Camp, Kickoff and Playoffs along with a pillar mural representing NFL legends from each of the 32 clubs.
The 6th floor is based on the NFL Teams. Some of the conference rooms are named the League Board Room, the Press Box and Hall of Fame, to name a few.
The theme for the 7th Floor is the Fans with a mural highlighting Fan Favorites with at least 1 player from each of the 32 clubs. The conference rooms are named Fan Cave, Tailgate, Stadium and International.
The 8th Floor is based on Innovation and features a mural showing the innovators of the game, including coaches and players. The conference rooms are named Fan Generation, Forward Progress and Future Football.”
What are some secrets to your success that you can share with the FM community?
“My best advice is to ‘Go with your gut’ and hire diverse people that you deem to be better than yourself. The truth is I like to work with people who are ethical, strategic, and innovative and have a sense of humor.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary.