Manager of Arenas and Facilities (Retired), City of North Bay
Share some of your most memorable career-related experiences
There are many career-related experiences I can share from over the years that have made a substantial impact on me. I worked on the recreation side for many years before moving into the role of manager of operations of arenas and facilities division. In my role as a manager, I worked with staff and experienced first-hand the demands of the work environment and the pride and personal commitment they each made to their job. Another career highlight took place in 2007 when we received the Hockeyville award. This experience gave us the chance to optimize the opportunities and of course, the opportunity to work alongside Kraft and the NHL for Hockeyville.
Also hosting events within the community working with committees, promoters and organizers to deliver the best version of their event. It was some of our most exceptional work within the arenas as it showed how our entire team could function together to deliver or help deliver the product.
Another memorable experience was the renovation process to Memorial Gardens in 2012-2013. With the renovations, we had a new home for the OHL Team, the North Bay Battalion. With the upgrading, the 60-year-old building would now become an event centre with increased seating, new HVAC, and upgrades to our community Sports Hall of Fame.
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 the challenges I have faced during my career would be the budget process from start to finish. The budget process often would be very most time-consuming, especially when you are working with facilities that are aged beyond 50 years but are still fully operational. Annual upgrades and changing standards can often present additional challenges and costly retrofits.
Also, climate changes when the temperatures vary during the seasons. This would require additional demands on staff to manage the impacts of weather on the operation and need to maintain customer safety and the facility responses to humidity and warmer temperatures without HVAC to balance. Balancing the community needs, wants and demands with the need for seasonal maintenance and upkeep to the ageing infrastructure.
How has your involvement with the ORFA affected your career?
The ORFA offers training and education through various learning platforms. Regional in-House Training, Facility Operational Forum, Annual Professional Development, and online training courses as well as different communication tools such as ORFA news, the Facility Forum Publications, Guidelines, Alerts and Best Practices and the use of social media to highlight current events within our industry. All these tools help keep us stay connected across the province, reducing the feeling of isolation depending on your geographic location. I always felt I could reach out to other industry professionals to network on issues as they arose in our operation. As well as provide my feedback and expertise where I knew it could offer assistance.
The bottom line is that my involvement with the ORFA helped build my confidence as an industry professional. The training and education are empowering, and I supported in house opportunities annually to allow my staff the same opportunities to grow within their profession.
List any best practices or tips learned at an ORFA professional development opportunity.
I did learn a lot with the ORFA professional development opportunities. It was after a long and rewarding career in recreation I was promoted to manager of arenas and facilities.
I had the opportunity to take my very first ORFA course. It was a course on strategic planning with Tony Brenner. After 16 years, I can still hear Tony say, “it is better to train your staff and have them leave than to not train them and have them stay.” That saying has stuck with me for too many years and has served me well. The second bit of advice and guidance comes from Terry Piche.
Terry believes that training and education is a personal responsibility and should be something that every ORFA member takes advantage of to develop skills for personal growth. Your membership will allow you to track your successes and your direction and to follow the industry through the various forms of communication.
I would also like to mention the RFAM program as a great resource as well and offered through the ORFA membership. Once again, following on the Tony Brenner Strategic Planning course, he talked about the value of life cycling your facilities. The RFAM program offers so much in regards to cataloguing and tracking your facilities that it fits nicely with the strategic management of your assets.
What advice would you provide to colleagues considering teaching or mentoring within the industry?
I would suggest that you begin by focusing on yourself and your knowledge base. Strive to be a leader in your profession.
It is important to welcome new employees to your workplace and show them around. Share your work experiences. Every building has a personality of its own, and it helps with the introduction.
Encourage employees to access information and the various forms of communication available through the ORFA organization.
It is essential to take a “team” approach when it is working with others,
it will help create the synergy that is so beneficial in our work environments.
I feel it is vital building upon your own strengths and interest in this industry as it can be beneficial in many ways.
Perhaps teaching or mentoring is something of interest; this may be an opportunity some could consider further by exploring teaching techniques through adult learning models and offer your services to the organization by sharing your interests and expertise. Exploring these opportunities and as a member to serve on a Technical Advisory Committee.
Lastly, learn at every opportunity and don’t be afraid to share your knowledge.
Regardless of the position, you hold within your organization, remember to stay engaged with your profession through networking opportunities, communicating and training. Follow ORFA’s E-news, read the topical information offered through the Facility Forum.
I want to thank the ORFA (members, Trainers, Staff) for being so responsive within the industry and for their leadership and support. As an organization, we continue to search and research the industry demands and respond to our membership through training and communication so we can continue to lead in our field.
Stay safe and work safe!