Faces of Facilities

Faces of Facilities: Darin Rose from the Credit Union of Colorado

Darin Rose, a 30-year facilities management veteran and esteemed IFMA Fellow, has a lot of advice to offer industry professionals. Like many leaders, he has overcome career challenges and found success. And like any great leader, he wants to help others succeed.

Rose currently serves as the director of facility services for the Credit Union of Colorado, one of the largest credit unions in Colorado with 19 facilities across the state. He leads a team of five people who manage maintenance, capital projects, contract services, mail services, and central supply.

Before joining the credit union over two years ago, Rose held several positions in the non-profit, public, and private sectors, including at a homeless outreach group, Fortune 100 financial institutions, and a fast-food franchisee.

Rose has been a career-long member of IFMA, the International Facility Management Association. He has volunteered in several capacities and held prominent positions at the organization, including president of the Denver Chapter, chair of the America’s Advisory Board, board member of the Public Sector Council, and committee chair for the IFMA Foundation’s Ambassador Program. Rose also has a passion for teaching and is an IFMA-certified instructor.

Of all the awards he’s won, Rose said he was most excited to be inducted as an IFMA Fellow in 2021, making him one of only about 130 members to ever receive this global peer honor.

To learn more about Rose and his take on industry issues, please read the “Faces of Facilities” interview below:

How did you get your start in the field?

Like many in the facilities management profession, I made a “right turn” into my FM career when I started working for a non-profit. At the time, I was a painting contractor and attending school for film production. My wife and I were expecting our first child and needed a more stable job with health insurance. I had no formal training in FM, but my supervisor was willing to train me.

About three years into my term with the non-profit, a picture came to me: Imagine the building you are managing had caught on fire. The fire department is working to control this major blaze. It’s a very stormy night, rainy and windy, lights are flashing all around. You are standing, watching, the firefighters do their best to control the disaster, then all of a sudden, a news reporter comes up to you and asks, “So…what could you have done to have prevented this?” When this thought ran through me, it shook me and I realized that my position, though not seen or necessarily valued day-to-day, was very important to the health, safety, and protection of the employees and clients I serve.

This dream was a catalyst for me to not take my job lightly. That there are people who are trusting that I am there, understanding procedures, and working to prevent dangerous situations from occurring.

I faced challenges with my first FM job, including emotional anxiety, moments of panic, and a fear of failure. I left the organization looking for a new start. Remaining in the FM field, I came across a book by John Bevere that spoke about, yes, you may have been wronged, but what are you going to do about it? Bevere encouraged healing by forgiving and moving forward. Around this time, too, I felt a calling to become a skilled craftsman and to work at being the best facilities manager I could be. A new job was a new start for me to operate in a new way.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry, and why?

Without a doubt, there have been a lot of amazing people who have impacted my life. My Mount Rushmore would include Jon Martens, who encouraged me to become an instructor; Pete Winters, who gave me wise leadership guidance; and Mary Gauer, who exampled caring and fortitude.

But if I had to pick one person, it would be Teena Shouse. She has been a great example to me and many FM professionals throughout her FM career. Whether it’s been a five-minute conversation in the hall at a conference or taking the time to mentor someone, she makes time and gives thoughtful and candid insights, which has challenged and elevated how I think.

Other major influences are the Ritz-Carlton and author Daniel Burrus.

My wife and I honeymooned at a Ritz-Carlton, and while there, we experienced their impeccable service. We learned their goal and motto is to “fulfill even the unexpressed wishes and needs” of guests. Then at an FM conference, I heard Daniel Burrus speak about predicting and anticipating. That there are cycles that allow us to prepare for the future before others see “what’s next.” These examples also challenged me to identify as many levels of impeccable service as I could implement.

What’s your best mistake, and what did you learn from it?

I would say my “best mistake” is learning how to communicate effectively. As a person who can be easily distracted, I have worked on being focused within segments of time to be more efficient. I am also aware that I think internally in tactical ways and that I need to make sure to share those thoughts with my team and key stakeholders.

I have realized the best methods for me are creating checklists and communicating through emails, which helps me to be effective in organizing and sharing my thoughts. I have learned it is important to know my audience as well. Senior managers want information in a minimalist format, compared to an employee who may be directly impacted by a specific deficiency and wants as much detail as possible.

What are some of the biggest facilities management issues at your organization?

At the Credit Union of Colorado, we are a very relational organization. They like a high level of interaction and communication. It’s also not enough to just be a nice person; being competent in job duties develops the trust that employees’ and members’ interests will be valued and supported.

I am leading the construction of a new headquarters building for the organization, the largest project in the company’s history. We have worked through supply chain issues and dealing with COVID, and though the project has been delayed 60 days from its original completion date, we are months ahead of other similar projects of its type.

We designed and are constructing a building that will meet the credit union’s current and long-term needs. What has made the project successful is building trust internally between myself, our owner’s representative, the contractor, and the architect. It requires all responsible parties to be fully engaged, build trust to achieve unified solutions to problems, and create effective timely decisions. We then validate and communicate decisions with senior stakeholders who continue to have full confidence this project will be brought to a highly successful completion.

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry?

My favorite parts about working in FM are the variety of skills I have developed and the behind-the-scenes interactions I have with peers and industry partners. Each day is different, and a facility leader typically interacts with all aspects of an organization. Whether it’s managing day-to-day operations and maintenance, supporting an organization’s technology needs, presenting to senior management a capital improvement, or thinking strategically towards safety and business continuity, there is satisfaction in effectively protecting and improving people’s lives.

It’s also amazing the open connection there is among all facility professionals, whether they work at the Credit Union of Colorado, the Beijing Daxing Airport, Disneyland, Yankee Stadium, or even the Vatican.

What changes would you like to see in the FM industry?

I think bringing the position to a truly recognized professional level is important to be seen as having a vital role in the success of an organization. It is happening. Great work has been done, like the U.S. GSA recognizing the facilities manager position specifically and the development of ISO standard 41001, which creates a universal understanding of this crucial role.

The next step is to help the C-Suite (CEO, CFO, COO, etc.) gain an understanding that the FM position is a multi-dimensional, highly skilled role, well beyond the organization’s catch-all for tasks that they do not know what to do with.

Next is the further development of FMs. There are 11 main muscle groups in the human body, and similarly, there are 11 competencies that IFMA has identified. FMs need a strong core of maintenance operations, project management, financial management, and leadership strategy. Having a strong foundation in these skills allows other capabilities to then be developed, such as performance and quality, communication, information and technology management, human factors, real estate, risk management, and sustainability. These make FMs an even more effective asset to their organization.

How can company leaders make facilities management a value within their organization?

I believe for company leaders need to actually see what work is being accomplished behind the scenes and how the FM team is improving the organization. This means selecting key tasks that are shared to keep the awareness that the department is working to support the company and the individuals working and being served.

  • Have competent individuals who can identify and accomplish issues before they arise.
  • Communicate cost reductions, but also beyond… where costs were avoided as well as when income is generated.
  • Partner with other departments to build a network of support as “the” relied-upon service provider for the organization to complete in-house, or know where to accomplish them through outsourced methods. Just like in hockey, soccer, and basketball, assisting in the score is just as important as the completion of the play.
  • Be the go-to department. Lead and collaborate with each department on the development and management of initiatives that impact those stakeholders. Having a written plan, testing it, and being the trusted partner for its implementation will build credibility in your team’s skill set.

Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Are you noticing any major trends?

For years we’ve seen commercials of people working on a computer, untethered on a tropical beach. A local coffee shop had become the “third space” people went for a meeting outside their office. It may have come quicker and more forcefully than we anticipated, but hybrid work is here to stay and that’s not a bad thing. It provides new challenges and opportunities for the FM to work through.

Organizations need to embrace ways to make the office more attractive to its employees. Many libraries have changed their model to meet the new connection needs of their community, such as with different collaboration spaces, varying types of interactive media devices, as well as labs for hands-on creativity.

FMs need to do the same. They need to make the corporate workspace that first and third space, creating more flexible spaces for impromptu interactions with other employees and departments and providing support and opportunities for physical activity, wellness experiences, and self-discovery learning.

Next, there is the need to embrace and be effective with technology. Facilities managers are seen as solutionists. We are the ones whom people come to when they need an answer and help to move their idea or issue to a positive result. Technology is not a means to an end, not where a facilities professional has to “do more with less,” but it’s enhancing the ability to respond to unique requests in an accelerated way. With the ongoing challenges of managing multiple tasks and the rapidness of answers, technology is an important tool to strengthen the facilities manager’s effectiveness.

Also, there are recent demands on organizations to actively participate in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. A facilities professional needs to understand how to stay ahead of the regulations and social pressures that are required. There is a significant benefit to being able to position your organization as a leader. With transparency and the development of a plan, stakeholders will typically give grace when they see the implementation in process and, even if delayed, milestones are still achieved along the way.

What are you most proud of?

Working on an outstanding new headquarters project has been very rewarding. Taking all of the learning over the years from others, the mental notes while visiting other properties, and being able to implement them on behalf of the organization I work for is outstanding.

That said, I think I am most proud of my resiliency. To make that “right turn” into facilities years ago, working through the brokenness and personal challenges, building up an understanding that “tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” The early trials and mistakes helped shape my desire for excellence and better outcomes, as well as compassion for myself and others for not being “there” yet. Being patient, listening, and willing to admit mistakes has helped me develop empathy in how I approach my life and work.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

Develop a Network: LinkedIn has been a solid portal to maintain existing connections and seek new ones. I’ve reached out to my network several times to find solutions and service providers to solve my concerns. To start, set a goal to add 10 persons a month. Over a year you will have over 100 connections. You can start with friends, family, and co-workers and then branch out from there, even if it’s someone you are not well acquainted with. It’s amazing the relationships that can be developed. 

Understand HVAC: The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system is like the circulatory system in the body. I have seen that having a foundational knowledge of a building’s HVAC and being able to communicate needs and results can be very beneficial to managing the satisfaction of employees. The great thing is that service techs are usually happy to share their knowledge with you.

Soar with Your Strengths: I am not an engineer, nor have I played one on television. Some FMs come from a structured engineering background. My experience comes more from my ability to be artistic and creative. This was, at first, not well received, as my ideas were not always conventional or well-formulated. I learned to manage the engineering side of the industry and use my creativity to test out new ideas. I also realized whether it’s a film production or renovating the interior of a bank branch, they are similar “projects”; one is experienced on a screen and the other one is lived-in.

Challenge Yourself: When I started my career in facilities management, my efforts were split between film production and FM. When I decided to fully engage in FM, I wondered how long it would take to “make it.” Now I am asking myself “how far can I go?” Though money is a consideration in a job selection, there have been side steps in my career that have developed my character, created a better experience, and prepared me for future opportunities.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Enjoy the ride and have fun! Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly… until it can be done well. Yes, challenging times will come, but the sense of satisfaction in overcoming and accomplishing a goal is very fulfilling.

Are you or a colleague an FM professional interested in being profiled for the “Faces of Facilities” series? Please contact Editor Joe Bebon at JBebon@BLR.com.

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