FM Spotlight

Sabrina Biancaniello – MSD Capital

Sabrina oversees three offices, approximately 60K square feet, with an annual budget of over $7 million. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations, working directly with the Chief Operating Officer on the needs of the business, such as spacing requirements for each department within the organization. Sabrina is responsible for managing all of the vendors that MSD Capital is contracted with in all three offices, along with interacting with the landlords for each location. She is always focused on reducing her firm’s costs and becoming more efficient in all areas without compromising the integrity of the space or firm’s needs.

“Sabrina’s attention to detail and work ethic are beyond compare. Sabrina seeks to understand problems and issues at the empirical level to ensure that she solves for a problem holistically. The quality of her work reflects this thoughtfulness and thorough approach. Plus, she has a great sense of humor! Sabrina has done a tremendous job creating a well oiled function in her current role through her diligence and hard work.”  — Jenny Killeen, Managing Director – Head of Human Capital – MSD Capital, L.P.

What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“I’m really shy; most people think it’s crazy because I’m very personable, but I hate being the center of attention.”

How did you get into the Facilities/Workplace field?
“I got into the Facilities/Real Estate field by accident to be honest; I never really planned on it. I was studying finance in undergrad and always thought I would be in the financial sector doing something with finance. Back in 2005, I was working in an organization where a large renovation project was going on. There was an issue with the general contractor and subs for the job, so I ended up calling a bunch of my friends and family who are in the construction business and hired them to finish the job. I realized then that my network was large due to my personal connections, and it gave me a huge advantage.”

Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“One favorite project highlight that stands out the most was when I was building out an office in Florida. The laws are very different down there. The company I was working for forgot to file a business license with the city, and we couldn’t begin construction (file permits) until the business license was approved. I was on such a tight deadline and, because  everything in Florida moves much slower than in New York, I literally walked into the town’s office and met with the officials; the next day we had our license.”

What is your greatest success story?
“My biggest success story was when I came into one project at the tail end; it was a huge, 20-million-dollar, 50K-square-foot project. So many things were going wrong. Some of the decisions that had been made weren’t conducive for the work environment we were in, and some of the materials they selected weren’t sustainable. When I arrived, they basically said, “We are going to redo the majority of the space; here is your budget; fix it.”

Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“I think one of the biggest challenges is being a woman in the industry. I grew up in a family where all of the men were in some type of blue-collar work: plumbing, electrical, engineering, carpentry, painting, excavating, etc. That’s how I became so knowledgeable about all of the different facets of Facilities. However, people always looked at me funny because they didn’t trust that I knew what I was doing. I had to work extra hard because there was always doubt because I am a woman.”

What learning experience would you pass onto future FMs?
“Be a sponge and try and learn everything; no one expects you to become a master at all, but having a foundation is key. Also, never accept “no” as an answer; I feel like, when you get noes, you are just speaking to the wrong person.”

Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary