Faces of Facilities

Faces of Facilities: George Alvarado from C&W Services

George Alvarado is the quality assurance and training director at C&W Services, an integrated facility services provider to more than 600 customers in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

He is responsible for developing, researching, reviewing, and validating training content and quality assurance tools. He also collaborates with account leaders to evaluate adherence to standards and metrics that promote and improve quality performance in order to provide client satisfaction.

Overall, Alvarado has a decade of direct and indirect facilities management experience working in the military and the private sector. While in the United States Air Force, he won numerous awards, including Instructor of the Year, Missile Facility of the Quarter (three times), and Professional of the Year. Post-retirement, he has racked up a host of other awards and certifications, including the ProFM credential.

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

How did you get your start in the field?

I got my first taste, if you will, when I served as what would be the equivalent of a property manager in the United States Air Force. They called them “dorm managers” at the time. It was there that my love for being people-focused was enhanced by my ability to serve them through managing the biggest dormitory in Europe.

When I became a nuclear facility manager, it was there that I explored the facilities management career path a little more and kept it a prospect until I retired. Finally, after I retired and was hired as a facilities manager trainer, I realized there’s even more to this industry than I imagined.  

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

I have a few BIG influences for different reasons:

  • Jeremy Cline. As my former supervisor, he mentored me on how to operate in a very demanding environment and provided tremendous insights on financial management and business strategy.
  • Alana Dunoff. She was my instructor during my ProFM credentialing, and she is always accessible and ready to answer questions.
  • Jessica Fumo. I met her during my ProFM credentialing, and she has been a wonderful ally and support when it comes to navigating and networking through the FM industry.
  • David Trask. The content and experiences he shares online is digestible and easily referenceable.
  • Griffin Hamilton. (Host of Modern Facilities Management Podcast) The guests Griffin has on his show has served as a tremendous learning platform for me to stay up to speed concerning who is doing amazing things in our field.

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

When I was younger, there was a maintenance situation that could have cost someone their life. The technical instructions were wrong and didn’t have the proper warnings about our task at hand. And because of my inexperience, I didn’t take time to pause and consider any potential hazards that could put life and limb in jeopardy. It was only when a more experienced professional tapped me on the shoulder and asked me what I was doing that I realized what could have happened.

From then on, my situational awareness was leveled up; I’ve learned to read the room beyond what the written instructions give you, and I am more conscientious of my limitations.

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

I love the collaboration and camaraderie. There are challenges that can keep us bogged down if we are doing this alone. Developing relationships is key, and it is something I enjoy the most.

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

1. More Quality Training. Training is one of my passions, and I would love to see clients and FM organizations become more invested and boastful on how they are developing interactive, engaging, and relevant content for their employees. We have a widening skills gap in our industry and a decreasing labor force. We must train them or risk losing them.

2. Better Continuity & Resiliency Planning. Operations entail people, processes, and property. And many of them tend to have single points of failure. Sometimes, it isn’t more technology that will solve that problem. It is just better continuity planning. It’s vital that we break the silo mentality, share more knowledge across departments, and identify assets and equipment that could cause cascading effects if and when they fail.

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

First, persuading them to understand how facilities management impacts strategic goals and everyday operations is critical.

Then, regularly communicating across departments our impact on safety, sustainability, budgeting, production, customer services, collaboration, etc. This helps to develop a culture where our value and insights are observable and considered.

Finally, though not exhaustively, invest in their people. Things like operational and skills training, career progression, leadership development, and technology that helps measure performance (e.g., dashboards, safety reporting software, Internet of Things (IoT), and predictive technology) can provide quantifiable value for the organization.  

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

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, post-2020, technology is shaping the way we do business. Emerging tech like virtual reality, 3D imaging (LIDAR), and artificial intelligence (AI)—along with increased remote work, predictive technology, IoT, and third-party outsourcing—are forcing a more tech-savvy workforce. Even at the everyday skills and maintenance level. Not to mention a rise in practices that include sustainability, safety, and security.

Because of these, I foresee an industry that will have a lot more predictive technology to help reduce downtime, cut costs, and drive efficiency. This will include AI models utilizing data and making predictions. There will also be more virtual-reality-based trainings along with 3D tours of facilities that can be conducted remotely. And I predict more virtual collaboration and management utilizing cloud-based platforms, more “smart” facilities that monitor performance of both facilities and personnel, and more push for managers and employees to purposefully connect and cultivate relationships outside of the virtual sphere.   

I’m not saying we will all have our own Avatars or Terminators doing our jobs for us, but we should pay attention to how we can continue to remain skilled and marketable in a new era of the industry.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of helping others succeed. Whether it’s writing an award-winning package, recommending someone for a well-deserved position, helping my team achieve their objectives, or helping an employee achieve a personal or professional goal, I’m glad I get to be a part of that.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

  • Be genuinely interested in the people you work with.
  • Don’t be afraid to reevaluate accepted community standards and tribal mindsets.
  • Be a Collaborator. Be a Communicator. Be Curious.  
  • Be involved in the strategic and operational goals of your organization.
  • Understand what skills you need and your limitations.
  • Get credentialed, find a mentor, and get plugged in to a network or organization that will help you grow.
  • Most of all, laugh at work and make time for your loved ones at home.

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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