01/28/2003

A Day in the Life of Kimberly Cowherd

A Team Leader

Contributors: James Earl  
 

Up Close and Personal

Kim, what do you like least about your job?

Dealing with personnel issues – especially in light of budget cuts. I try to be real creative and think outside of the box on how to get all the things we have to do, done. When you cut staff, everybody’s trashcan can’t be emptied once a day. Dealing with the complaints that come from that, and trying to keep morale up, is tough.

What are some of your hobbies?

I play with our church hand bell choir. That’s something I really enjoy. Of course, I garden and do plant maintenance and tree trimming – just for fun because that’s where my heart lies. I read a lot and try to keep up with my two teenage children.

Any words to live by?

Don’t let anybody else dictate your attitude. If you let all the people out there who are disgruntled make you disgruntled, you’re going to have a pretty sorry life. That and be prepared. I’m a girl scout from way back, and [I believe] in being prepared for any eventuality.

Who are two people you’d like to meet?

Sandra Day O’Connor and Eleanor Roosevelt, because they were/are cutting-edge females in a political, male-dominated environment.

The phrase “There is no ‘I’ in team” may very well have been coined to describe the operations at facilities of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and their Assistant Director of Operations Kimberly G. Cowherd. Located in Frankfort, KY, Cowherd is charged with overseeing approximately 100 employees, 32 facilities (almost 3 million square feet), and the delicate balance of tenant/landlord relationships. “It’s a pretty big monster we deal with here,” she says, jokingly.

So just how does a woman promoted from landscape branch manager in the Division of Building Services thrive in facilities management? Like most good managers, she relies on her team, delegates work when appropriate, and was schooled in facilities by an excellent mentor. Four years post-promotion, Cowherd notes that business practices have become more professional: leaner – without being meaner. “We’re trying to be more efficient and run our operation a little bit tighter than we used to,” she says, a statement that echoes the challenges many facilities professionals are dealing with during the weak economy.

Following the devastation of 9/11/01, the Commonwealth’s 32 facilities experienced rapid changes. “We had just started to put in electronic card access systems (card readers and manned visitor entrances) in some of our buildings. It was going slow. And then, of course, 9/11 quadrupled the pace of that installation. We were going to target certain high-profile buildings; now, we’re targeting every building,” she explains. Working with tenants to improve building security, troubleshoot problems, and address concerns has kept Cowherd busy during the last year. With many of the Commonwealth facilities requiring public access, resulting challenges have involved dealing with disgruntled visitors and maintaining top security when it is challenged by tenants and guests. “We have the state capitol and the governor’s mansion and dealing with those high-profile state people and our legislature is a whole different realm. We also have a lot of public that comes in to visit the elected officials for the Commonwealth – [we are constantly asking ourselves] ‘how do we deal with those people without making them feel they’re not welcome?’,” Cowherd states.

As a liaison between tenants and the Commonwealth’s Division of Building Services, Cowherd prides herself on helping tenants understand new security procedures. “I’m responsible for getting those [protocols] in place with the tenant base to make it meet their needs,” she says, “[instead of] us just coming in there and saying, ‘You will do this and you won’t do that,’ because each building is unique and they all serve different kinds of clientele.”

Relying on every resource she can get her hands on (including the valuable expertise of team members), Cowherd expresses nothing but pure enjoyment for the profession and gives credit where it’s due. “We’ve tried to hire the best people and I’ve learned a lot from them,” she explains. Providing advice to her peers, Cowherd relays the following tips: “Build a good team and be able to use that team. Allow them to do their job and make sure you are fully utilizing their skills.”

Jana J. Madsen (jana.madsen@buildings.com) is senior editor at Buildings magazine.

 

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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.

Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
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Mitsubishi Electric’s H2i R2-Series heat pumps provide 100% heating capacity down to 0° F and simultaneous heating and cooling down to -4° F delivering year-round comfort, regardless of climate zone.

 
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