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ALL EPISODES

Episode 75

The Future of Facility Management, IFMA and Education for Workplace Leaders

with Mayra Portalatin, SFP, LEED AP of NVE, Inc.

Mayra Portalatin, SFP, LEED AP is Vice President of Facilities Services at NVE, Inc. where she provides strategy and direction to individual facility managers spanning across 2,000,000+ square feet of multi-story offices, multi-use living quarters, scientific research laboratory space, campus-like environments and at 20 other Government-leased buildings. A long-time contributor to the show, Mayra joins with Mike Petrusky to celebrate this milestone episode of the podcast – Episode #75! They discuss the changes impacting the built environment over the past several years and explore how facility management professionals must evolve to keep up with technology in the workplace of the future. As organizations rethink the way they configure their workspace and manage the flexible office, Mayra shares her insight and experiences as an FM consultant and now practitioner. Mike and Mayra have a passion for IFMA, education, and music, which leads to a fun conversation that you won’t want to miss!

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Download the FREE “Workplace & Space Management Software” report from Verdantix: https://www.iofficecorp.com/verdantix-report-mp

Connect with Mayra on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mayraportalatin/

Hear more inspiration from Mayra: http://www.kayrellconnections.com/episode75

Watch Mike’s Ted-style talk from Dublin: https://youtu.be/DudLzQoU1X0

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikepetrusky/

Share your thoughts with Mike via email: podcast@iOFFICECORP.com

Learn more about iOFFICE’s workplace experience solutions: https://www.iOFFICECORP.com/

Read full transcript:

Mike Petrusky:

Hey, I wanted to take just a minute to tell you about a new report that was released recently. It was published by Verdantix, an independent research and consulting firm. And in it, they conducted a review of the 23 most prominent space and workplace management software companies. And guess what? iOFFICE was named the leader in two categories. iOFFICE scored highest overall and highest in workplace services. Awesome, right? So if you've been thinking about workplace and space management software, and you're just not sure which option out there is right for you, I'd like to send you a free copy of the report so you can check it out for yourself. All you need to do is go to iofficecorp.com/verdantix-report-mp. That's right, M P as in DJ Mike P. And I'll also leave this link in the show notes for you to make it easy. I hope it helps with your decision making process as you explore the available software tools that will help you elevate the employee experience in your organization.

Mayra Portalatin:

You have to be ready then to have that baseline, but then be able to evolve. And that might be through continued education or something that will help enhance what you already do, what you already know.

Mike Petrusky:

This is the Workplace Innovator Podcast, where we talk with corporate real estate and facility management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by iOFFICE, the leading employee experience-focused IWMS software that delivers real-time data and mobile tools to help you intelligently manage your digital workplace.

            Hey everyone, and welcome to episode 75 of the Workplace Innovator Podcast, another milestone episode, and I had to do something special for it. So I went back and said, I've got to get one of our favorite guests of all time. And actually, you know what, I'm not even going to try to do a proper introduction here. I'm going to say we have a mystery guest to mark the milestone. So please, before you introduce yourself, just tell us a little bit about what you do and maybe people will recognize your voice, mystery guest number one.

Mayra Portalatin:

Well, hello, everybody. It's so great to be back in the podcast with Mike. So excited to be here. For those of you who might recognize my voice, you might know me from IFMA, in particular, from the Capital chapter of IFMA. Some of you might even know me in the classroom. You might have been students of mine in the past.

Mike Petrusky:

Yes, educator extraordinaire.

Mayra Portalatin:

Absolutely. You might've actually seen me present at a world war place maybe, or at a U.S. Green Building Council conference.

Mike Petrusky:

I can't stand it. Who is it? Please tell us who it is.

Mayra Portalatin:

Well, hello everybody. This is Mayra Portalatin. I am the current President of the Capitol Chapter of IFMA, and I'm also the Vice President of Facility Services at NVE, Inc.

Mike Petrusky:

A new role.

Mayra Portalatin:

A new role.

Mike Petrusky:

Congratulations.

Mayra Portalatin:

Thank you. Thank you.

Mike Petrusky:

How's it going so far?

Mayra Portalatin:

It's going great. It's, you know, I went from many, many years in the facilities consulting field. Honestly, it was almost about 20 years-

Mike Petrusky:

I was going to say-

Mayra Portalatin:

Yeah, in consulting.

Mike Petrusky:

Now I've known you for 10, 12 years, and you were with FEA that whole time, a great FM consulting firm here in the DC area, did a lot of great work with them. And then this opportunity comes to you, right?

Mayra Portalatin:

Yes.

Mike Petrusky:

And you had to jump at it.

Mayra Portalatin:

I did. I mean, it, it was something that came to me. I wasn't really looking for anything, but it was an opportunity of turn things around of basically going to the other side, right? Of going from the FM consulting to actually doing facilities work myself.

Mike Petrusky:

All right. Joining the world of the FM practitioner and workplace leader. Can't wait to hear all about it. But before we get too far, Myra, you have been a partner with me for the last four years as we've journeyed down this road of providing FM and real estate information and entertainment. We started with a video four years ago. Remember that?

Mayra Portalatin:

Absolutely. That was a lot of fun.

Mike Petrusky:

It's a lot of fun. I watched it recently. And I said, who is that young boy interviewing Myra? Seemed like so long ago. So it was amazing, and we had so much fun. It was probably the first ones I ever did, so I thank you for that. And then I started the FM Innovator Podcast. You were one of my very first guests, I think episode six. And here we are. Now, then you came on the show again to celebrate the FM Innovator episode 75. And I thought here I am, Workplace Innovator, episode 75. Who do I bring on the show? It's got to be Myra. So thank you for being here.

Mayra Portalatin:

No, thank you for having me. I love doing these. I love connecting with folks and just being a part of it. It's been great.

Mike Petrusky:

Awesome. Really cool. And I certainly have known some of the personal side of Myra. For those who don't know you, I always like to ask about music. So folks, you will thank me for asking this question. Myra, what kind of music gets you fired up, inspired?

Mayra Portalatin:

So honestly the music that moves me and kind of gets me going, it's really the hard rock kind of metal kind of music, which I know when you look at me, you're like, really?

Mike Petrusky:

Is that right?

Mayra Portalatin:

Is that, are you sure?

Mike Petrusky:

That was the joke on the video? I said, you look like a Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block kind of gal.

Mayra Portalatin:

Yeah. And sorry, no. I mean, for me, music needs to create an emotion, and that's normally what hard rock or metal type music kind of does for me.

Mike Petrusky:

So who are the favorite bands?

Mayra Portalatin:

Foo Fighters. Probably have been to four or five Foo Fighters' concerts. Took our son.

Mike Petrusky:

Dave Grohl and the boys.

Mayra Portalatin:

I know. We took our son to his first concert for Foo Fighters' 20th anniversary-

Mike Petrusky:

Oh, wow.

Mayra Portalatin:

-concert. And that was amazing. I mean, he absolutely loved it. Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Disturbed. So those are the kind of bands that I kind of like to listen to.

Mike Petrusky:

You know, about six months ago, Myra, I had a guest who mentioned his favorite song. Hello, darkness, my old friend.

Mayra Portalatin:

Yes, The Sound of Silence,

Mike Petrusky:

Yes, the Disturbed version.

Mayra Portalatin:

It is so good. And when you listen to it and see it performed live, it's just transforming.

Mike Petrusky:

Off the charts. And the people bowed and prayed. How am I doing?

Mayra Portalatin:

You're doing good. I cannot do that deep kind of voice. I would always be more of an alto with that kind of song.

Mike Petrusky:

So Mayra, you're going to these hard rock concerts. Guess where I was most recently.

Mayra Portalatin:

Where did you go?

Mike Petrusky:

Talk about reunion tours. I'm a sucker for you. After 10 years, the Jonas Brothers are back, and I took my two daughters to go see him. Come on, I'm a sucker for you, have you heard that song?

Mayra Portalatin:

I have.

Mike Petrusky:

And you making the typical me break my typical rules. It's true, I'm a sucker for you

Mayra Portalatin:

I'm a sucker for you.

Mike Petrusky:

All right. You know, my kids never listen to the podcast and this will even cement it further. If they were ever to hear this, I'd be ruined, so...

Mayra Portalatin:

Yeah, they will use this against you every single time.

Mike Petrusky:

It's a good thing they're not listening to the show. Well, let's talk about the state of the FM world, if we can. I am excited to get your perspective on things because a lot has changed over the last three, four years, the evolution of the workplace, the infusion of technology and new cultural shifts that are changing the way we manage the built environment, the way FMS need to bring value to their organizations. So trends over the last, say, five years. We talked about this before, but what are the biggest trends impacting the facility management community?

Mayra Portalatin:

Right. So there's a few things that kind of come to mind, and I think that a lot of folks here, especially in the real estate arena have seen this happening. One of the first things that comes to mind is downsizing. Everybody's moving their downsizing space. You know, they are rethinking the way that their spaces are reconfigured. And it's, it's not just having a place for someone to sit, but having collaborative spaces, places where people can kind of like disconnect a little bit from everything that's going on around them. And that's basically forced them to think about a more robust, for example, telecommuting policies or procedures, looking at technology for hot desking so that you can reserve all these spaces so that you can control how you can manage it. And you know, you've got people that work better in different types of environment. You know, somebody might work better in, in an office space, closed up to all the sounds. But someone else may be just fine with a lot of background noise because they thrive on that.

Mike Petrusky:

That's interesting too. We need to do an episode just about not the generations and the differences in people by age, but by personality. That's the bigger factor I think in sociology and anthropology, the idea that introverts are much different than extroverts and providing a space for the different personality types across that spectrum. Of course, what brings out the best in us is what we're trying to achieve here with these workspaces. Right?

Mayra Portalatin:

And you know, the other thing that has really truly impacted the way that we do work is it's just the increase of technology and connectivity, right? As long as you have wifi access and a hotspot, you can work from just about anywhere in the world, really. You know, no longer do you have to, oh my God, I have to take half a day to go and get my car checked up. I mean, I go and get my oil change. I sit down, open up my computer. I continue doing my work, making my phone calls.

Mike Petrusky:

You're at the office while you're getting it done.

Mayra Portalatin:

I'm in a mobile office, and it just happens to be at the car dealership where I'm getting work done.

Mike Petrusky:

You shouldn't go to the dealer, though Myra. They're overcharging you for an oil change

Mayra Portalatin:

Well, it's part of the deal, I guess.

Mike Petrusky:

Find a small, local trusted mechanic. I got a guy I can recommend.

Mayra Portalatin:

Normally, I would. It's just part of the deal. So, it creates a couple of different problems, right? By having all that connectivity, that means that you can't really ever be disconnected, right? You're always on, you're always-

Mike Petrusky:

The paradox.

Mayra Portalatin:

Yeah. There's always that expectation that you are going to be answering the phone. You are going to be answering that email because you're getting email all the time, whether it's in your phone, your tablet, your laptop, you're going to see it, right?

Mike Petrusky:

This is great. I'm always connected. This is terrible. I'm always connected.

Mayra Portalatin:

Exactly. But at the same time, it gives you more of a work-life balance, right? Because you can go about doing things throughout the day that you need to do for life and still get your work done because you can get your work done at any point in time

Mike Petrusky:

Choice and control as Neil Usher says, yes.

Mayra Portalatin:

It's a good thing and a bad thing. Right?

Mike Petrusky:

Yes. There you go. The paradox of the workplace. So that's the trend for sure. And you mentioned some of them, but let's talk about the challenges, because I think we spend a lot of time on the show talking about trends and like, yeah, we all agree. And we nod our heads. Yes, that's a trend. But with every new trend or with every new technology, there's a new change or a challenge that comes up because of that. We have to adjust, we have to adapt. Give me your take on the challenges that come from these changes.

Mayra Portalatin:

So technology's great, right? It's definitely giving us more information ability to understand our work even more. But at the same time, it's creating an issue with our workforce. You install new BAS, a building automation system-

Mike Petrusky:

Thank you.

Mayra Portalatin:

-in your facility, and it's got all the bells and whistles. It can turn on your lights, turn them off. It can turn off the blender down in the kitchen at night.

Mike Petrusky:

It's magic.

Mayra Portalatin:

It's magic. It monitors your air handlers, your boilers, your chillers, your cooling tower. I mean, it controls everything. Here's the problem. You install this system and you forgot to train the people that are going to be managing the facility and be using it. And you know, most of these folks have been in the business 20, 30 years. They've never had to encounter some of these really complicated systems. So if the problem comes when there is an issue and time to diagnose the issue because of the lag of the training in the system and their old school mentality of like, well, I'll look at the equipment and if I can't figure it out, then the problem is the BAS.

Mike Petrusky:

Yeah. Blame the technology.

Mayra Portalatin:

You blame the technology. And so really moral of the story is technology is great, but you need to make sure that you're training your people in how to use it, because otherwise is actually going to take you a few steps back.

Mike Petrusky:

And this is something that you have a passion for, educating folks as they evolve in their career and also bringing up the next generation of facility management leaders. Where do you think it's going?

Mayra Portalatin:

Well, from the standpoint of facilities, there's a huge gap in the FM pipeline, right? What I mean is we have a big number of facility managers who are going to be retiring in the next 5, 10 years. There's a problem. We've not done a great job about talking to people about facilities and about making that a career of choice. There are universities with bachelor's programs, certificate programs, a few master programs here and there, but they're few and far between. It's been IFMA's challenge in a way to, you know, how do you spread the word, right? How do you get people to know that hey, this is a career of choice. This is not something that you should just stumble into, right?

Mike Petrusky:

Right. Like most have found themselves

Mayra Portalatin:

Which it's true, it's like, I'm, you know, for those of you who don't know my background, I'm an engineer. And so I've not practiced as an engineer because I've started working in facilities almost right after I graduated college. So I kind of stumbled into facilities, and that's probably the story from many folks out there. What if we don't have people stumbling into facilities? What if we have people actually pursuing those careers and having the proper training so that they have the right skills that are needed to continue to manage facilities and to be able to deal with the ever changing demands of being a facility manager, because what is a facility manager? That definition continues to evolve year after year. And so you have to be ready then to have that baseline, but then be able to evolve. And that might be through continued education or getting new classes, certificates, something that will help enhance what you already do, what you already know.

Mike Petrusky:

What do you think are the most important things a person who's going to be managing the built environment in the future needs to have? Do you have any thoughts on this?

Mayra Portalatin:

You can be highly skilled and very knowledgeable on your trade, on what you do. But if you don't have the people skills, the communication skills, it's going to be a challenge. This is a service industry, and how you respond to situations, how you communicate says a lot about you and really also provides a different outcome.

Mike Petrusky:

I agree. It's emotional intelligence. It's the ability to relate, to have a personal connection. Again, the irony of all this digital connectivity is we've seemed to have lost some of the skills around human interaction. And that's why you and I are both such passionate supporters of IFMA and the local events, but also the World Workplace events. Again, coming up here in just a few weeks now, October in Phoenix. Will you be there?

Mayra Portalatin:

Yes.

Mike Petrusky:

All right.

Mayra Portalatin:

I get the rare opportunity to actually attend and bask in all the glory that is World Workplace. It's going to be the first time that I'm not working, teaching, presenting, doing all the things that-

Mike Petrusky:

You get to keep your voice this year.

Mayra Portalatin:

I get to keep my voice this year. For those of you who don't know, sometimes because I am teaching and I am presenting, and I am working in the booth all week long, by the end of the week, my voice is shot.

Mike Petrusky:

Right. I try to have conversations with you, and you put the, you do your mime imitations. Mike, I can't talk to you right now. I got to save my voice.

Mayra Portalatin:

Exactly. So I'm looking forward to learning, to going to sessions, to networking with other FMs out there, hear more about what people are doing, what are some of the challenges that they're experiencing so that maybe I can learn a little bit from that and bring that to my facilities.

Mike Petrusky:

Yeah. And back to the Capital Chapter of IFMA, you're just going to wear your President of the Capital Chapter hat, shake a lot of hands, kiss a lot of babies. It's going to be like a tour stop, like a campaign tour stop for Myra.

Mayra Portalatin:

I'm practicing my Royal wave, too.

Mike Petrusky:

There you go, you've got the Royal wave happening. Where's your glove? Reelect Myra in 2020. No, not a third term?

Mayra Portalatin:

No.

Mike Petrusky:

Okay. Well this is great. Listen, 75 episodes. I can't begin to thank you. This is awesome, Myra. Thanks for being on the Workplace Innovator Podcast.

Mayra Portalatin:

Thank you for having me today.

Mike Petrusky:

There you have it, everybody. Mayra Portalatin sharing just a little bit of her insight and experience with us. Always a pleasure to have her on the podcast. Thank you, Myra, and thanks to all my friends at the Capital Chapter of IFMA. It's times like this that I am reminiscing about our time together over the past decade or so, and look forward to spending more time here at the local level as my travels allow it. I hope you will continue to find a way to make it to some of the conferences we discussed, like IFMA's World Workplace. Such value for everyone who attends. Connections, education, and an opportunity to collaborate together, it's what it's all about. It's what I started this show for coming up on now three years ago, first to reach the FM community, and now this discussion about the future of the workplace. That's why I do it. And I hope you are enjoying it. I know I am, and I hope you'll continue to join me each and every week where I trust you will find inspiration to be a workplace innovator. Peace out.

            You've been listening to the Workplace Innovator Podcast. I hope you found this discussion beneficial as we work together to build partnerships that lead to innovative workplace solutions. For more information about how iOFFICE can help you create an employee centric workspace by delivering digital technology that enhances the employee experience, visit iofficecorp.com.