Compiled by Facility Executive
From the December 2023 Issue
With nearly a decade of experience in the facility management, Bronson Terry, Southwest District Manager for Sodexo North America University Facilities, has a track record of improving the quality of facilities operations. He is skilled in project management, planning and organizing, and in motivating teams to excellence. Facility Executive spoke with Terry to learn more about his experience working as a facilities manager in higher education.
FE: Tell us about your background. What lead you to becoming Southwest District Manager for Sodexo North America University Facilities?
Terry: I have always had a passion for buildings, architecture, and business, even since I was very young. I guess it was in my blood. My family owned an HVAC business, and I spent many summers working with my dad on construction sites. I also spent many hours designing houses and buildings on some cheap software I purchased. Although I had a strong interest in architecture, when I started university in 2008 the country was going through a recession, and I knew that the volatility of architecture paralleled that of the construction industry—so I started looking for options. Fortuitously, a friend in college had just finished the Facility and Property Management program at Brigham Young University. I decided to give it a try and graduated with the same degree a few years later.
I began working for Sodexo in their campus division immediately following graduation and had some excellent leadership opportunities in a campus FM program in Southern Alabama. There I oversaw construction, then maintenance and later operations. After nearly six years in the deep south, I received a call from a friend asking me to come be the director of operations for a program in Colorado. I had an absolute blast running that program and was able to do some really exciting things to improve operations, focus on sustainability and build strong client relationships. After directing the program for about a year, I was asked to take on a larger role and oversee our campus FM operations for the Southwest United States. My focus in my current role has been on operational excellence, program improvements, and building strong relationships of trust.
FE: What are your day-to-day responsibilities? On the other hand, what are some changes/improvements you’ve made in your facilities overtime or plan to implement?
Terry: At the foundation, I am a builder and creator. Those who know me best would say that I am relentless in the pursuit of excellence. I love working with my teams to help identify better, more efficient, more economical ways to get better results. I am focused on creating life-changing years for the people I lead, building gold-standard operations and creating and innovating new best practices. I spend my time engaging with my teams and with my clients to achieve those things.
I am focused on creating life-changing years for the people I lead, building gold-standard operations and creating and innovating new best practices.
In practice, that means I spend lots of time flying on an airplane or engaging virtually to visit each of my programs. When I am present, I can hear, feel and understand the real needs of the programs I oversee and then we can work collaboratively to solve those needs. When we work together there is no unsolvable problem.
Currently we are exploring how robotics (or more aptly named cobotics for collaborative robotics) can be used to improve our programs, using IOT sensing technology to gather better data—the collaboration between the robotic data collection and our understanding of how to proactively adapt could be a gamechanger. We are also working on new ways to attract and retain talent in a changing and evolving labor market.
FE: What do you think are some of the challenges you, and other facility executives and managers, may be facing today?
Terry: The post-COVID evolution has presented some unique challenges that we continue to innovate through. While some of the market challenges have eased, I think the supply chain will be a battle for some time. Perhaps the biggest challenge that still lingers is the market demand for increasing wages.
FE: What advice might you have for other facility managers looking to embark on improvement projects for these kinds of facilities?
See how Principal Facilities Project Manager Shalita Myrick channeled her passion for helping people into her facility management career. Read more…
Terry: I have the privilege of working with many university campuses. Each program has different needs and requirements, and all have different types of buildings. Regardless of each program’s nuance, I have found a framework that applies to improving in every situation:
- Truly understand the problem. A root cause analysis can be helpful to ensure you are focusing your efforts in the right places.
- Involve your team. Get outside your own head. The sum of the parts truly is greater than the whole.
- Involve your customer. Understand what is painful for them. Each of us has customers, whether our operations are in-house or outsourced. If our solutions don’t meet their needs, then we still have not found the right solution.
- Innovate, do something different. Albert Einstein said it best— “insanity [truly is] doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
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