The Professional Development Push
ConnexFM teams up with ProFMI to promote professional development for facilities managers, with an extra effort for women.
By Scott Mason
Evolution is necessary to succeed in the facilities management industry. That’s true even for facilities professionals who think they’ve experienced anything and everything that could possibly be thrown at them.
“Most facilities managers (FMs) will probably tell you after a few years they feel like they've seen and heard it all,” said Myriah Kingen, Director of Facilities at Tractor Supply Company. “Then they turn around and find something new that pops up, no matter how much tenure they have in the industry.”
FMs must constantly be bettering themselves by staying up to date on the latest trends, developing soft skills or taking courses to become better educated.
Forging a Partnership
To combat complacency, engaging in professional development and growth must stay on the minds of FMs. Knowing its importance to its members, ConnexFM partners with the Professional Facility Management Institute (ProFMI), which offers the ProFM credential, to promote one of the most comprehensive and respected facilities management credentials.
“ProFM is an all-inclusive credential,” said Nicole Baldwin, Marketing Director for ProFMI. “It isn't piecemeal. Twenty-four topics, divided into five modules, are taught within the program. It gives you a broad overview of FM, and it takes 55–80 hours for someone to complete the certificate program.”
The partnership between the two organizations is mutually beneficial, according to Baldwin. “ConnexFM exists to give facilities managers a competitive advantage, which is the same aim as ProFM. We have this common goal that we're both striving for.”
Even the most experienced FMs can find value in the credential. Just ask Kingen: She is currently working on achieving the ProFM credential after spending more than 20 years in the facilities industry.
“[ProFM] is a great credentialing program,” Kingen said. “It’s widely used and can provide a universal language and criteria for people across the industry to know that you’re educated and serious about your facilities management career.”
A Boost for Women in FM
ConnexFM’s Women In Action (WIA) Committee has made it its mission to highlight the importance of professional development for women in FM as they look to carve out a more sizeable role in the industry. And what better way than to harness the ProFM partnership to achieve their goal?
Jessica Fumo, Director of Store Preservation at Sephora, was named a Co-Chair of WIA in 2019 and said that one of the committee’s goals utilizing two of WIA’s core pillars, Give Back and Professional Development, was to create a series of annual grants for women in facilities to achieve the ProFM credential. “During my three-year term, our focus was on fundraising and awarding these grants to women in the industry,” she said.
But after her term was complete, WIA provided Fumo with an incredible surprise and opportunity: the chance to achieve the ProFM credential herself.
“I had always wanted to earn my ProFM credential,” Fumo said. “There's always room for growth, however, with women in FM, the statistics are not in our favor, and we need to empower and encourage the women in this industry to help change that. That is the statistic I wanted to be a part of.”
Kingen, a current Co-Chair of the WIA committee, stressed the need to continue and promote the ProFM grant program.
“WIA’s three core pillars are education, professional development and networking,” Kingen said. “ProFM has always been near and dear to us. For women in FM, getting the credential gives you something you can put behind your name to showcase yourself in the industry. It shows other facilities professionals that you're serious about your trade and skill set and want to grow.”
Baldwin noted how incredible it is to continue working with those who receive the grants. “It's our honor to work with WIA to provide these opportunities for growth,” she said. “The women who earn the grants are so committed to earning the credential, and we see them every year at conferences, continuing the relationships. I can't say enough about those women.”
Continuing the Push
While the WIA and ProFM alliance is a great start, there is always room for improvement when it comes to promoting professional development for women in FM.
“We need to keep sharing for more awareness and visibility,” Fumo said. “I've had many people reach out to me once I earned my ProFM credential because I was able to say I was the 54th woman in the world to earn this credential. When other women hear things like that, they may think, ‘Wow, I could be one of the first 100 women in the world to have this credential.’ It just makes you want it even more.”
Providing these professional development opportunities is a great way to improve performance as well, Baldwin said. “I think people underestimate the value of training because it really does give people confidence, and as a result, they perform better,” she said. “Professional development gives them what they need to excel and keep advancing in their career.”
Kingen mentioned that WIA has plans for more programs to help support women in FM. “We're asking everybody to stay engaged with us as we move forward with other professional development plans and give us feedback,” Kingen said. “Help us stay connected so that we are giving women in the industry what they need to succeed.”