Tag Archives: Facilities Management Administrator

Al O'Connor - AZRE Magazine November/December 2010

BOMA Instructor Al O'Connor A Go-To Man

BOMA Instructor Al O’Connor, Chief Engineer for The Great American Tower, a Go-To Man

Being a good chief engineer for an office building is a lot like being a good magician. Everybody loves what you do, but not everyone realizes how much hard work, practice and expertise goes into making your job look easy.

Take for example Al O’Connor, building engineer at The Great American Tower, 3200 N. Central Ave. Inside and out, visitors can see O’Connor’s handiwork: a clean, well-maintained, 24-story tower that houses a variety of professionals from attorneys and account payroll firms to various shops.

But what they don’t often see is the expertise required to keep a 25-year-old high-rise functioning well enough to make tenants feel comfortable, secure, and as if they want to stay put.

“If a tenant doesn’t feel content in a building, he won’t stay when the lease expires,” says Susan Engstrom, senior real estate manager for Tiarna Real Estate Services. O’Connor estimates he cut operating expenses by $1 PSF in the 335,000 SF building by automating the HVAC and lighting controls, and by raising the building’s Energy Star rating from 81 to 90. Updating inefficient mechanical and electrical systems helped save $45,000 in recurring annual maintenance, as well.

“The way the market is right now, if our building was operating the way it was five years ago, we wouldn’t be realizing the savings,” he says.

An engineer’s ability to maintain a building is an invaluable form of tenant relations. Poor air conditioning, broken elevators, dead landscaping, plumbing leaks — all sap energy from what should be a vibrant workplace.

O’Connor has overseen the building’s mechanical and operating systems for five years as part of Tiarna. In that time, tenants have faced no serious system failure of any kind, Engstrom says.

Typically, a chief engineer monitors and keeps all of the building systems working, including those for air conditioning, electricity and water. While they call in vendors as needed to do upkeep or repairs, engineers often perform day-to-day preventive maintenance and minor repairs.

Most important, they keep the property manager updated on the state of the building and what long-term work needs to be planned and budgeted.

“It helps if I can make an informed decision rather than allow someone to take advantage of me,” O’Connor says.

O’Connor has shared his expertise as an instructor with the Building Owners & Managers Association of Greater Phoenix, which promotes the interests of the commercial real estate industry in the Valley. One of its aims is to educate building management professionals about best practices.

O’Connor has taught BOMA’s Building Design courses, where participants can work toward the association’s Real Property Administrator (RPA) or Facilities Management Administrator (FMA) designations. The designations signify that a recipient is well-versed in all aspects of property management and building maintenance, respectively.

In fact, the U.S. Navy last year asked O’Connor to teach these subjects and Building Designs and Operations to its naval building administrators in Reston, Va.

For more information about BOMA and Al O’Connor, visit bomaphoenix.org.

AZRE Magazine November/December 2010


Young Professionals - AZRE Magazine November/December 2009

BOMA’s Young Professionals Group Grooms The Next Generation

Leading the Way

“Young professionals cannot afford to sit on the sidelines,” says Jami Vallelonga, a BOMA Greater Phoenix board member. “It has become increasingly important to develop a professional network and get the training and tools needed to advance as a management professional.”

Welcome to the Young Professionals Group

Jami Vallelonga, a real estate manager at CB Richard Ellis, formed the Young Professionals Group (YPG) in January 2009 to offer professionals (age 40 and younger) a forum for interaction and support within the property management industry, and to promote career growth and development.

Marion Donaldson, who co-chairs the Young Professionals Group with BOMA members Colleen LeBlanc and Vallelonga, says, “Our goal is to encourage young leaders to take educational courses and obtain their industry designations, volunteer on BOMA committees, increase community activism and awareness, ultimately fill vital leadership positions in 5 to 10 years, and make sure that BOMA Greater Phoenix remains a viable, effective industry group.”

Donaldson, a 7-year member of BOMA Greater Phoenix, works as a sales and customer service manager for Commercial Service Solutions, a commercial floor care company. With a background in both property management and the services industry, she notes BOMA-YPG is an important group for professionals in both fields.

A subsidiary of BOMA Greater Phoenix, the Young Professionals Group offers the benefits of BOMA membership including:

  • industry networking
  • enhanced educational opportunities
  • career building
  • a powerful voice in the industry

LeBlanc joined BOMA 5 years ago for its network.

“We’ve never had a salesperson work for this company,” she says, referring to ProGuard Security Services, a company that provides security to commercial and high-rise properties.

“All of our business has been earned through relationship building, which can be tied to BOMA membership.”

She started with ProGuard Security Services 5 years ago as the director of customer relations, and began running the Phoenix office as vice president 3 years ago.

How it Works

Monthly luncheons and quarterly events enable Young Professional Group members to connect with industry professionals, both inside and outside of the group.

The YPG recently teamed with NAIOP Developing Leaders (NAIOP’s young professionals) to extend industry connections.

These large networking events can be a little intimidating for new members, notes Donaldson. She recalls walking into her first BOMA luncheon as an assistant property manager at age 24 and feeling “wholly intimidated” because she did not know anyone there.

It was at that moment she knew the group needed a way to make members feel welcome and get networking faster.

What resulted is the Ambassador Program, adopted by the Young Professional Group, to personally welcome all new members and help them navigate the monthly luncheons. This includes introducing newcomers to other members.

Additional Value

For management professionals, the Young Professional Group may offer a free ticket to some of their education.

The Young Professional Group raises money through sponsored events to enroll members in the BOMA Real Property Administrator (RPA) and Facilities Management Administrator (FMA) certification courses.

These are important certifications for property managers, Vallelonga says, who started her career in property management as a receptionist and worked her way up the ranks to real estate manager of CB Richard Ellis. She holds the RPA, CPM and LEED AP designations.

However, the group’s education opportunities extend beyond certification classes.

“Every company has different styles of management,” LeBlanc points out. “Our group offers young property managers a chance to interact with many management companies and gather ideas that can help tremendously in their careers. BOMA is kind of a one-stop shop where you are going to find information, mentors, or perhaps your next job.”

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For more information about Young Professionals Group, call BOMA Greater Phoenix at (602) 200-3898.



AZRE Magazine November/December 2009