Laying The Foundation For Success

Dawn Borden discusses her experience as a facility manager and her current role working alongside facilities as a project manager.

By Facility Executive
From the April 2024 Issue


Dawn Borden, Senior Project Manager with Structure Tone, has had a variety of experience both as a facility manager, and through working with other facility managers. She has represented organizations and provided facility management consulting and project management for diverse companies from start-up, repositioning, and dispossession stages. Many of the companies she’s worked with have been in high-tech, bio-tech, commercial business, among other fields. Facility Executive spoke with Borden to learn more about her experience working as a facilities manager in high-tech, as well as her perspective on some of the greatest challenges FMs are facing today.

Project Manager, Dawn Borden, Senior Project Manager, Structure Tone
Dawn Borden, Senior Project Manager, Structure Tone
FE: Tell us about your background. What led you to facilities management?

Borden: Unlike many people — even in the 80’s — I actually knew what a facilities manager was. I could not say that at that time I would follow in my father’s footsteps, but after I graduated from college with a degree in Sociology and found myself working in an administrative position in a rapidly growing tech company, my next obvious step was to transition toward that world I already knew. I was pleased that although mine (high tech) was a very different field from my dad’s (healthcare), it was pretty cool to be able to talk shop with him. We talked about HVAC system installs, building-wide brownouts and employee grievances. From there I spent the next 25 years of my career working on the “client side” of the table in rapidly growing high-tech companies experiencing constant change, managing their office buildouts to create a pleasant and productive work environment for their staff and clients. I have since brought this knowledge to the general contracting side of the table at Structure Tone on a national account.

Project Manager
(Photo: Adobe Stock / JU.STOCKER)

“My past experience in that FM position makes me sympathetic to what they need, and I am able to help them meet their goals while we continue to move construction forward.”

FE: What are your day-to-day responsibilities? On the other hand, what are important some changes/improvements you’ve made in your facilities overtime or plan to implement?

Borden: My day-to-day tasks managing projects are keeping the project within the budget, managing the schedule, and managing client expectations. In this role, I have regular contact with the facilities team who is working to keep the place operating while my team is actively building the new space. Very often the facilities team is leading a one-off event in the same space where a construction project is underway. My past experience in that FM position makes me sympathetic to what they need, and I am able to help them meet their goals while we continue to move construction forward. It is really important that we work together to complete the project successfully and create a quality environment for staff and customers.

FE: What are some of the challenges you, and other facility executives and managers, may be facing today?

Borden: I would say that the biggest problem I experience is a shortage of labor. All my projects work on a very tight schedule. This has an enormous impact on the schedule. If one trade does not show up as planned, then the one to follow cannot begin their work, which can cause a project to spiral.

FE: What advice might you have for other facility managers looking to embark on improvement projects for these kinds of facilities?

Borden: The advice that I would give to other facility managers when looking to improve their office space would be get a very clear understanding of how their staff will operate within it. Over the last few years, a lot of work has gone into making an office space fit a particular population size or type. But then how the staff actually uses it on a daily basis is very different than what the management expectation was.

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And when taking on a renovation project in an occupied space I would recommend lots of patience! Set a realistic expectation with your team as to how long the due diligence and active work of the project will take. Planning ahead for the actual build will minimize disruption to the staff working within the space. Changes are tough enough to navigate midstream, so anything you can do to minimize them in advance will help your sanity over the course of the work.  Keep the staff informed of the progress with photos, newsletters, planned site visits, etc. If you do not, staff will take it upon themselves and wander into the new space at any opportunity they can which is not only disruptive but a safety risk for your project.

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Check out previous FM Profiles from Facility Executive magazine.



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