Seamless Succession

Jan. 1, 2008

Skills can be taught, but what might get lost in the translation?

As you'll discover in this new year's first cover story, the commercial buildings industry - and Business America in general - is coming to a crossroads. The talent that has made this marketplace great over the past couple of decades is aging, and succession management is top of mind for many of today's senior facilities executives. More importantly, what will this change mean to the vocation? Baby Boomer decision-makers brought two unique qualities to the mix that may be missing from the newbies looking to facilities management as a career today: book smarts (educational backgrounds in architecture, engineering, and business) and street smarts (learning the business from the ground floor up - the literal boiler-room-to-boardroom fairytale). Yes, skills can be taught, but what might get lost in the translation?

When Managing Editor Jana J. Madsen and Senior Associate Editor Leah B. Garris first decided to pursue the topic of succession management, they expected that a roundtable discussion amongst veteran and up-and-coming professionals would address these areas and provide constructive, helpful tips for both mentors and mentees involved in this process already. What they quickly learned, however, was that the roundtable became more of a pursuit for information on the subject. Being the responsible service journalists they are, they left their forum with a welcomed burden: to find answers and offer direction to Buildings readers on the best ways to prepare rising stars within their organizations for the future. You'll find that the collective insights from Jana and Leah's well-rounded research and astute resources will help point you in the right direction.

Just as you seek, distinguish, acknowledge, and nurture the aptitude of your colleagues for future planning, so have I been tasked to do as editorial director at Buildings: We have a lot in common. I'm fortunate in having a tight-knit and extremely accountable editorial staff with tremendous drive, flair, and sensibility. Talent, of course - that's a given - but what I most value from all three is their trustworthiness. And may I add the following:

Jana, thank you for your ever-constant vigilance in getting the best sources (and, therefore, the best information) on the topics of most interest to our readers. This "never-settle-for-less" mentality and persistence serves the industry well, and is apparent in the many ways in which you have helped advance the content of Buildings in your 8 years on staff.

Leah, thank you for your perseverance in continually raising the bar on value and quality. In your 5.5 years of tenure at Buildings, you have never compromised your editorial standards - and your expectation that others follow suit is inspiring. You make us want to become better professionals (therefore, we are).

Jenna, as the newest member of our editorial team with less than 1 year under your belt, your curiosity and ability to assimilate unfamiliar information into essential substance is gratifying. Thank you for stepping up to the task, which isn't an easy one.

Although I'd like to take credit for being a great mentor, the reality is that my most noteworthy contribution to our present success is that I hired the right people. I know that, once the torch is passed, succession will be seamless. Can you make that same statement? 

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