The office magician

Published on : 5/11/22
  • I started working in facilities management before it was even really a profession. Back then we just called it building operations management because that’s what we did; we managed buildings. But facilities management nowadays is so much more than that.

    First Published on Sodexo Worlwide Website

    A new day, a new challenge

    Being a facilities manager involves a lot of public relations. It’s about really getting to know your clients and working with the human beings inside the buildings. The work is vast and varied and that is what I love about it. Every day presents new challenges and new problems to solve.

    As I’m sure is the case in virtually any other industry on the planet, Covid really changed the workplace for us as facilities managers. After the pandemic peaked and people started coming back into the workplace, we needed to come up with solutions to create a hybrid way of working. We had to rethink the way we design spaces. An office wasn't just about having a desk anymore ౼ or at least not the desk as we knew it. Offices today have standing desks and lower desks designed to be used next to a couch; meeting rooms are flex spaces that have to be capable of transforming at a moment’s notice ౼ from a conference room to a room for new mothers, to an exercise space.

    I actually have a degree in architecture, which really comes in handy in facilities management because the job is all about understanding how people live in and use space. When you have the concept of architecture and knowledge of space, it broadens your outlook and helps you see, for example, that a wall can be so much more than just a wall. You can add a desk, a couch or even install circadian lighting or a biophilic wall.

    Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, answer yes, and then immediately start learning how to do it.

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    Working in “a man’s word”

    As a Regional Account Director, I manage teams all across the Latin America region ౼ from Mexico to Brazil ౼ and I’m the lead on dozens of sites in every country. As a woman, this is a pretty big deal. 

    When I started 20 years ago, I was surrounded by men. When you manage a facility, you’re managing people in maintenance and operations for example, which is still very male-dominated. I’ve encountered people who didn't think a woman could do this work, or that we didn't understand the concept of fixing a compressor or an air conditioning unit or other roles related to engineering. Throughout my career, I’ve had to fight to be recognized and respected as a professional in this field.

    Today, I’m really focused on mentoring and advocating for more women in facilities management positions. I work with Sodexo’s SoTogether program, with the goal of developing women in leadership roles. I also mentor female students, between 12-16 years old, to encourage them to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). It’s my way of giving back and creating more diversity in my industry. 

    Find out more about the challenges I have faced during my career in this video:


    A career for life

    One message I try to get across to the women and girls who I mentor and work with is that you have to love what you do. Despite the challenges I’ve faced as a woman in this sector, I’ve always remained positive and motivated simply because I love what I do and I’m good at it! 

    Facilities management is a profession that is all about fixing problems every single day. You have to be a magician ౼ solving all kinds of issues and creating solutions ౼ and if you don't love what you do you're going to get frustrated. 

    I think I truly realized that this is a lifelong career for me when I noticed that I was waking up every morning, energized to go to work. And I want to keep waking up and feeling that energy to go to work.

    The most productive work comes from the hands of a happy human being.

    Victor Pauchet


    Find out more about… a career with Sodexo!

    This article was created by Erika Casallas, Regional Account Director, Sodexo LatAm


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