Saturday, October 11, 2008

An Interview with Dave Brady, President and CEO of IFMA

The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) is the leading FM organization in the world. With over 19,000 members in chapters and councils around the globe its mission is to further the development of the FM profession, something it excels at. Training and certification programs, outreach and linkages to other organizations, and leadership on the most important issues our industry faces make IFMA a respected and trusted resource and partner.

Recently, Dave Brady, President and CEO of IFMA, joined the Board of the Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE). As noted in a recent post here, OSCRE is bringing together key players from all sectors of the real estate and operations community to develop comprehensive industry standards, common processes, and shared operational language.

FMandBeyond interviewed Mr. Brady to learn his perspective on OSCRE’s efforts and IFMA’s engagement in that effort, as well as to get his view of IFMA’s current health and initiatives.

FM&B: Mr. Brady, first let me say thank you for agreeing to this interview. Welcome to our little corner of the cyber-world.

DB: Ken, it is my pleasure to speak with members like you and to help get the word out on important IFMA initiatives like our work with OSCRE. Coincidentally, IFMA also is working to establish a greater presence in new media outlets, including blogs. We now have an IFMA staff member focusing on new media full time and we now have a presence on sites like You Tube, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. Nevertheless, this is my first blog interview.

FM&B: Congratulations are in order. You were recently selected to OSCRE’s Board of Directors. What is OSCRE’s mission, and why is IFMA important to OSCRE and vice versa?

DB: Thank you. OSCRE’s mission is to effectively facilitate the standards development process among key real estate stakeholders—including owners, tenants/occupants, investors, operators, developers, service providers, consulting firms and vendors—to benefit stakeholders and enable the real estate industry to function more efficiently in the digital economy. OSCRE members in the Americas represent an excess of US $2.1 trillion in real estate assets, 12.3 billion square feet of floor space and 1.4 million association members.

FM&B: IFMA has several strategic partnerships both with complementary organizations like AIA and IIDA, and more FM-centric groups such as FMA, EuroFM, and BIFM. Why are these alliances important to IFMA in general and how is the alliance with OSCRE similar or different?

DB: IFMA’s vision is to serve as the resource and representative for facility management. Our mission is to advance the facility management profession. We leverage our capabilities through working with carefully-identified organizations with knowledge or resources that complement our own.

In this past year, we signed three new alliances. First, IFMA and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) signed a memorandum of understanding to advance the interests of engineering and health care facility professionals. This opens the possibility of doing joint research, educational programs, FM credentials, benchmarking and work on sustainability. Second, IFMA and the U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC) signed a memorandum of intent outlining collaborative efforts to promote sustainability, energy efficiency and environmentally-responsible building operations. Third, IFMA joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program as a partner. This is a fundamental commitment by the association to protect the environment through the promotion of continuous improvement in energy performance on the part of IFMA members and their facilities.

Also in the area of sustainability, IFMA has on ongoing partnership with the Alliance for Sustainable Built Environments and it continues to help the association advance the business case for operating facilities and workplaces in sustainable ways that minimize our footprint on the planet.

At World Workplace 2008 we also will be signing a memorandum of understanding with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (ASHRAE) that has been in development for well over a year and we will be renewing a three-way Partners in FM Excellence agreement between IFMA, the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) and the Facility Management Association of Australia (FMA). In essence, this renewal is an expansion of this evolving tripartite relationship based on new opportunities discovered in working together these past few years.

As for the IFMA/OSCRE relationship, their CEO, Andy Fuhrman is a long-time IFMA member with many years working the facilities end of the technology sector. He also was active in the Silicon Valley Chapter of IFMA and in IFMA’s IT Council. Andy was integral in helping IFMA unbundle technology from its eight other separate competency areas to give it a deserved and unique standing. IFMA also was not one of the first formal members of OSCRE because as a global organization, it was necessary for it to stay connected with the various standard-setting organizations that had facility management within their perimeters. Earlier in the process, we were not sure which of the organizations would take the lead or reach a critical mass. When it became clear to the IFMA board of directors that OSCRE became both the lead organization and one that had international connections, IFMA joined as an executive-level member. We have been working with Andy hand-in-glove since.

FM&B: For those who do not know, would you briefly explain OSCRE’s focus?

DB: Technology is the newest FM competency and it is revolutionizing how real property assets are managed and how fast critical information can be shared. Previous to OSCRE’s initiatives, FM software used different platforms and there were no information exchange standards. Custom interfaces were necessary or time was wasted by manually re-keying information. Data standards enable facility professionals to readily share information with architects, designers, contractors, government officials and other stakeholders. OSCRE works both upfront and behind-the-scenes to tie it all together, both in North America and through its ties with similar organizations in other parts of the world. The bottom line is OSCRE saves time, money and effort.

FM&B: How can professional FM’s participate?

DB: Joining IFMA’s IT Council is a great starting point. This concentration of members within the association undoubtedly is more focused on OSCRE’s work than any other segment or combination. Additionally, as previously mentioned, OSCRE workgroups provide opportunities to contribute. These groups are listed on the OSCRE Web site and include: Commercial Information Exchange, Commercial Property Information Exchange, Lease Abstracting, Real Property Appraisal Reporting, Real Property Unique Identifier, Space Classification Standard Code List and Work Request and Work Order Fulfillment. IFMA members who would like to contribute something or participate in any of these groups need only contact IFMA Director of Research Shari Epstein.

FM&B: What do you see as potential benefits of IFMA’s engagement with OSCRE, both for the FM profession at large and for the individual practitioner?

DB: Facility management as a profession has been getting progressively closer to certain other disciplines such as IT, finance and human resources. There are many more overlapping areas of responsibility. OSCRE’s work adds credence to FM’s argument that excellent strategic facility planning has huge bottom line implications. Finance and IT also are C-suite functions. For the individual FM practitioner, embracing OSCRE standardization initiatives can place him or her closer to top management.

FM&B: Let’s turn our attention to IFMA in a more general sense. As I post this to the blog IFMA is in the midst of World Workplace 2008 in Dallas. What would you like to say to our readers about IFMA’s health, opportunities, and aspirations?

DB: IFMA is in excellent financial health, both from a cash flow perspective and long-term investments. Through the implementation of strategies outlined in the association’s balanced scorecard we also continue making significant investments to improve the quality of programs and services. Right now we are about a third of the way into the 2008-2009 fiscal year and these investments in people, resources and technology have positioned us well. As an example, membership is the lifeblood of associations and IFMA’s membership grew by 662 over the previous year.

FM&B: Looking at the near horizon, where does IFMA leadership see the greatest opportunity to influence and why is this particular area of interest important?

DB: Through IFMA’s involvement with Global FM, a consortium of national and international FM-related organizations, there is great potential for FM to contribute to the emergence of various nations— whether largely service-based or industry-based. There is special emphasis on the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China. Strengthening connections between North and South America also is important. The first user of IFMA’s online education was an FM professional in Croatia. The world indeed is getting much flatter.

FM&B: Turn that coin over now. What are the biggest issues IFMA needs to deal with organizationally and what strategies/actions are you using in response?

DB: Organizationally, IFMA responded by integrating globalization as one of three overlying themes in our balanced scorecard and strategy map. We have added staff dedicated to international development, are strengthening ties with IFMA’s international chapters, forging or strengthening global alliances, offering more products and services beyond North America, hiring bilingual or bicultural staff, working with partners in emerging markets like China and thinking less like Americans in our approach to the business of the association. IFMA Chair John McGee, a former chief operating officer with a major global company, also brings a new level of strategic thinking to the association. He is Irish and has worked in Europe and the United States. Right now he is leading a new strategic initiative called “Vision 2015,” working with the board, staff, members and thought leaders to define what IFMA wants to look like in the next several years. Once defined, the vision will set the course for all our planning efforts.

FM&B: Building relationships is certainly an important objective and beneficial inside the profession, but how are these relationships paying off? Are there instances of IFMA’s engagement with new organizations or governments resulting in changed policies?

DB: Nearly eight years ago IFMA established a formal presence in Washington, D.C., primarily for the purposes of monitoring workplace-related issues, educating policy makers and advocating positions in support of, or in opposition to, legislative initiatives affecting FM. However, that presence also helped IFMA get closer to its members who worked in the federal government and to heads of facilities in all the various agencies and service areas. IFMA has especially strong ties with the Federal Facilities Council, U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Department of State and the Society of American Military Engineers.

FM&B: Sustainability and energy are likely the two dominant strategic issues our profession faces, and they go hand in hand with each other. Tell us how IFMA is leading the dialogue on these concerns.

DB: Sustainability and energy indeed are large and important issues for the profession and for IFMA. Right now, we are working on various initiatives with organizations like the U.S. Green Buildings Council, Alliance for Sustainable Built Environments and others. To better understand the challenges, opportunities, current initiatives and future potential, we engaged one of our IFMA Fellows on a project to survey and map the sustainability landscape. We will be analyzing the findings shortly in order to integrate what we hope will be unique approaches from the facility management perspective.

FM&B: Do you see movement here? Are we making progress, stalemated, or losing ground?

DB: We admittedly are behind, but running full speed to catch up. Early on, many in the FM profession did not fully understand the sustainable movement or the course set toward triple bottom line reporting. In those days, during the genesis period, facility managers tended to focus on the cost side of the balance sheet. They were expert cost cutters and budget managers, working only on one side of the balance sheet. They didn’t see the full picture and how it all came together. No one anticipated the speed to which governments, companies and other organizations began adopting sustainable principles. They did not see how sustainable workplaces can attract and retain talent, save money, increase productivity, lessen the footprint and enhance the brand. Now there is a collective understanding and the evidence is irrefutable. FMs, however, largely were not in the board rooms when the business cases for sustainable initiatives were being made, likely by people closer to the CFO or the design or architectural firms they hired. IFMA is working to get the FM to the table to outline the strategic reasons behind what should be good business decisions.

FM&B: What do you see as the next big policy thrust or practical emphasis in sustainability, and how is that expected to benefit?

DB: The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 was signed by President George W. Bush in December and it has far-reaching implications. Though it focuses on federal facilities and is directed at agencies, its mandates very well could be replicated in other legislation that would reach commercial enterprises. EISA requires the reduction of fossil fuel-based energy consumption by new and renovated buildings to zero by 2030. In the interim, a 30 percent reduction in usage is required by existing buildings prior to 2015 and a 55 percent reduction in usage by new buildings also prior to 2015. Everyone in the FM community knows that reductions can be made, but there is uncertainty that new and appropriate technology and know-how will come online in time to meet the mandated ultimate goal of zero. Companies that develop products and systems to meet these goals will make billions. We believe the engagement of the facility management profession, beginning right now, can expedite development of these critical solutions.

FM&B: Dave, as this is posted you are in Dallas and WorldWorkplace 2008 is underway. It is a hectic time for you and staff. Thank you for taking the time in the run up to that event to answer these questions. As a long time IFMA member I am pleased to see and hear the direction IFMA is taking.

DB: Our membership is the heart of our association. It is always a great pleasure for me to speak with one of them. This is truly the time of year I look forward to—it gives the association a chance to regroup with everyone that makes the facility management profession successful. I look forward to seeing FM’s from around the globe in Dallas. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reach out to your readers as well, and to share IFMA’s vision with them.


  1. Ken,
    We missed you in WWP Dallas! Those of us from the Sacramento Chapter were looking for our revered blogger from L.A. but alas, after seeking out random L.A. Chapter Members and asking "where is Ken?" we discovered that you had sat this one out....know that you were missed!

  2. Ken

    Great interview, great blog. Thanks for helping IFMA share it's vision and mission in the built environment. Providing another channel for setting the foundation for a more comprehensive understanding of facilities management, IFMA's partnership efforts, and our combined efforts to improve the built environment can only prove beneficial.