Frank Cain, RRFA, CIT, Assistant Facility Manager and Business Development, University of Guelph, Department of Athletics
Your MOST MEMORABLE CAREER-RELATED Experiences.
The University of Guelph and Department of Athletics was home to the Hamilton Tiger Cats CFL football team for the 2013 season and that created many memorable experiences and not just fan related events either. It was a very rewarding experience to be able to make the season happen with relatively short notice and to learn how a "professional sports organization" operates. There were many dedicated and great people from both sides that made this happen and it was seamless and very enjoyable. Great experience!
The University of Guelph and in particular the Department of Athletics has allowed me to be very involved in the construction and renovation process for many of the new sport and recreation facility improvements over the past 6 years. I feel we have been able to provide safe, premium playing surfaces and top quality facilities for our students, faculty and community users. There is a strong sense of pride knowing the next operators will be inheriting strong well planned out facilities for many years of operation to come.
With over 30 plus varsity teams and hundreds of student employees here at the Department of Athletics there has been many memorable experiences from national championships to individual successes. Sometimes just watching an athlete or employee, who I have gotten to know over the years and assisted them with some of their challenges, graduate and cross the stage for convocation has created my fondest memories. I coach and mentor our student facility/recreation employees knowing they will not likely stay within the industry post-graduation, but they will learn valuable life lessons everyday within the recreation industry that will assist them in their career. This industry has a lot to offer and provides an opportunity for the average employee to make decisions and be empowered all of which will be a huge help in their future careers.
What Would You DESCRIBE AS SOME OF The MOST Significant Workplace And/OR Industry Challenges You Have FACED Over The PAST Five Years?
One of our biggest challenges is aging facilities. We have been fortunate to undergo some major upgrades and are always looking at ways to improve our facilities, maintain the existing facilities and to do so as safely as possible while providing the client with premium customer service.
The economic situation has affected our operations as we find resourceful ways to safely extend the life of some of our equipment and facilities, the funds are just not there to do everything and the political will to support recreation and sport initiatives is moving towards downloading the costs to the client through user fees and that has been challenging.
Staffing has and will continue to be an ongoing concern. From seasonal staff to the additional demands placed on full time staff the industry will need some strong leadership to maintain their facilities moving forward. It is my belief that customers/taxpayers and youth associations, who are experiencing increasing user fees, are well within their right to demand exceptional customer service when using our facilities, however we seem to be making it difficult for the line level employees to be able to meet those expectations. Also we have to stay on top of the health and safety training and cross training for all of our employees, especially since we are asking them to do so much more. The industry is no longer a single responsibility industry from the employees role, so we will need to be ready to provide the training to meet the expectations as an industry.
How Has Your Involvement With The ORFA AFFECTED Your CAREER?Without a doubt it has made my day to day decision making and operational planning way easier. Through the networking opportunities it has provided I know someone out there in the industry has either been successful or unsuccessful in something that will come across my desk and I know I can make a phone call to get the advice I need to do it right. The training the association provides and the information that is shared is invaluable, I look forward to receiving the Facility Forum and email updates to stay up to date on the industry issues and see what Mr. Piche has gathered from across the province that keeps us ahead of the surprises we may face in this industry.
LIST Any BEST PRACTICES OR TIPS Learned AT An ORFA Professional Development Opportunity.
- If you don't know make sure you ask an expert, there are far too many people relying on us and a mistake could be catastrophic.
- Understand your legal awareness from a personal and organizational perspective.
- Start with safety first and provide the proper training to all staff for any and all responsibilities or tasks you will be assigning or assigned.
What Advice Would You Provide TO Colleagues Considering Teaching OR Mentoring Within The Industry?I would ask you not to wait, volunteer your time and help make the industry stronger. We are going through significant changes, some are long overdue while others are a direct result of our economic changes but at the end of the day it is very rewarding to give back. Volunteerism is the cornerstone of our society and although we can attempt to gauge our worth through an arbitrarily defined salary number the true reward is in the act of giving back. Each of us have a level of experience and expertise- our lives would get a lot easier if we worked together and shared that information. Most of us are fortunate enough to work in an industry that we love, we were more than likely drawn to it because of the nature of what we do everyday. The industry is changing and how we do our jobs is evolving so we need to share the info and contribute to the ORFA initiatives as the engine to train and share our knowledge.
Stop take a moment next time you are in the rink or on a sports field or doing ground work etc. and watch the people using our facilities and recognize the effect you have on their lives everyday and realize it is multiplied by hundreds maybe even thousands a day. That is the reward for the great job you do!