Jessica Fumo, an award-winning facilities management leader, women’s advocate, and proud mother of three, said, “I strive to empower women to be fearless.” It’s a mission she inherited from her own mother and now carries out in the FM industry. It also likely helped Fumo win her brand-new board seat at the ConnexFM association.
Fumo serves as the senior manager of store facilities and special projects at Visionworks of America, an eye care retailer and services provider with about 750 locations. In her role, Fumo oversees the company’s store maintenance, facilities, and small remodel and refreshes for all locations across the country.
Prior to joining Visionworks in late 2021, Fumo held FM roles at Dressbarn, Party City, and Removery LLC, a tattoo removal start-up which gave her the opportunity to build the facilities department and its processes. In August 2022, she earned her ProFM credential.
Fumo is also an active member and awardee of ConnexFM, the multi-site FM group formerly known as the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association. From 2019 to 2022, she was co-chair of the ConnexFM Women in Action Committee, which supports women in FM with professional development, give-back, and networking opportunities.
Fumo won ConnexFM’s Young Professional of the Year award in 2019 and Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2022. Most recently, she was nominated to join the group’s board of directors, and on March 20, 2023, ConnexFM announced she won the election for a board seat.
To learn more about Fumo and her take on industry issues, please read the “Faces of Facilities” interview below:
How did you get your start in the field?
I started in the industry in 2005 as a physical plant intern at the college I was attending. I didn’t have any interest or even knowledge of what facilities management or the physical plant was, but when my college professor gave me the internship opportunity, I didn’t want to pass it up. Once I started, I immediately loved it and knew it was the industry I wanted to be in.
Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry, and why?
I do not have just one big influence, nor is it someone narrowed down to just the facilities management industry. I have met some powerful and empowering women over the past 15+ years who have helped mentor me, coach me, lead me, and inspire me. These women have been my biggest influence because they were fearless.
I kid often that I grew up in FM. I started out so young, fresh out of college, and I am so grateful for the wonderful people I have met along the way because their demeanor, their level of integrity and passion that I was able to watch and learn, inspired me to always be the best version of me.
Overall, my biggest influence in life is my mother. Her example of being a good human, a strong woman, a kind heart with a side of sass that taught me to never give up—it was everything I always hoped to be. There has never been a greater influence in my life.
What’s your best mistake, and what did you learn from it?
I hope this answer resonates with others, especially women within the FM industry.
My best mistake was allowing someone to put doubt in my mind about who I am and my career. This person made me feel inferior personally and professionally, enough so to ask myself if I was in the wrong field. Just as my mother taught me, I refused to give up. Instead of allowing myself to go down that path of destruction, I decided to do the opposite and up my game.
I became a member of an excellent FM association (now called ConnexFM) and was heavily involved in professional development and give-back opportunities. I volunteered on committees to learn and grow and, most importantly, network! This was the moment I decided it was time to build my personal brand for myself.
Since then, I have never looked back. I have the most incredible and talented network of industry peers. I am committed to fundraising efforts to better educate those in the field, I strive to empower women to be fearless, and I value mentorship opportunities.
What’s your favorite part about working in the industry?
The people! For me, it’s always been the people! It feels like we are one big family, giving support to one another, guidance, and opportunities! I feel the industry has really evolved to be more collaborative and innovative as one. The support provided by peers and industry leaders is priceless.
How can company leaders make facilities management a value within their organization?
It’s key to understand that having a more proactive approach rather than a reactive one will benefit the organization. Thinking strategically about the big picture vs. the reactive day-to-day tasks will be instrumental in cost-saving initiatives, as well as major upgrades within your space like energy management systems or sustainability opportunities.
What are you most proud of?
I am honestly proud of many things within my FM career—my growth, my network, my awards and nominations, and my ProFM credential. But I am most proud of being a mother.
I have never wanted something more than the honor of that title, and I am so fortunate to have three beautiful, smart, and fierce children. Learning to balance a job that is 24/7 and being a mother and wife was not easy, but when you work for stellar companies who value work/life balance and family, it has allowed me to be great at my job as well as at home.
Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?
Three things for advice!
1. Get involved. Become part of an association or committee. Volunteer your time. You will meet wonderful people and industry leaders, and you will learn and grow!
2. Find a mentor. Be their shadow, ask questions, listen and learn. FM is something you live and learn, but if you have a great mentor to help lead you in your personal and professional growth, you will be more successful.
3. Establish partnerships. Partner with your suppliers and vendors, as well as colleagues within other brands. Show respect! Lean on them for guidance when you may want to question something and need expert advice.
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.