Published July 21, 2009
Volume 17, Number 7

IFMA Promotes Learning Among Facilities Professionals

Facility managers are among the unsung heroes of business. With so much of their work involving systems that most people never see, they get little attention when things are running smoothly—which, in these days of 24/7 operation, is just about all the time. In addition to being charged with the stewardship of existing infrastructure and resources, they are responsible for identifying and implementing better strategies and techniques. Since a productive, sustainable, and cost-effective facility can have a very positive impact on both corporate culture and the bottom line, their work can be critical to a company’s success.

Still, as a profession, facilities management is an emerging discipline. Many facility managers come to the field through a path other than education. It has been estimated that 10,000 facility management positions need to be filled in the United States each year, but only around 500 students graduate with facility management degrees annually.

The professional group IFMA (International Facility Management Association) partially addressed this issue when it developed a program awarding the Certified Facility Manager credential as an “industry standard for ensuring knowledge and abilities of practicing facility managers.” The effort continues as various IFMA members across the country work with academic institutions to craft a formal FM curriculum. 

In the Bay Area, IFMA’s East Bay Chapter is doing its part to advance the education of its members on several fronts. According to Jane Mele, the chapter’s immediate past president and principal in MB Contract Furniture, in Benicia, UC Berkeley Extension offers FM classes, and other institutions have been approached about initiating programs. 

IFMA East Bay also holds regular professional meetings to keep its members apprised of important developments in their field. While the organization has many members in the Oakland area, a recent survey indicated demand for a meeting place east of the Caldecott Tunnel, with San Ramon winding up as the anchor location. “We usually have three things going on every month, the chapter business meeting and two other events,” says Mele. The next two San Ramon “Lunch-and-Learn” sessions are scheduled for July 22 and August 12, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The topics are, respectively, fire and smoke dampers, and building codes.

Always popular—and open to non-IFMA members—are tours of local facilities, which the chapter arranges from time to time. Plans are in the works for a tour of the ClifBar facility in Oakland later this summer, but details have not yet been finalized. “Facility managers love going on tours because they get to see how other facilities are run,” Mele notes. “The opportunity to learn from each other is a big part of why people get involved. They get to talk to their peers about how they’ve solved problems. It’s a good way to gain understanding about the issues we face.”

For more information about IFMA’s East Bay chapter and its activities, visit www.ifmaeb.org, or call Mele at (925) 381-8971.


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