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Asset Management Leadership And Inspiration For Future Facilities Maintenance Professionals

Carolyn McGary, FMP, CFM, SFP is known as a “Wonder Woman” in the facility management industry because of her passion for the future of the built environment. She is currently Assistant PM and a Quality Control, Safety and “CMMS Guru” at Electronic Metrology Laboratory (EML) where she uses her experience in project and facility management … Continue reading "Asset Management Leadership And Inspiration For Future Facilities Maintenance Professionals"

Asset Management Leadership And Inspiration For Future Facilities Maintenance Professionals

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Carolyn McGary, FMP, CFM, SFP is known as a “Wonder Woman” in the facility management industry because of her passion for the future of the built environment. She is currently Assistant PM and a Quality Control, Safety and “CMMS Guru” at Electronic Metrology Laboratory (EML) where she uses her experience in project and facility management to deliver on operations and maintenance goals. Mike Petrusky asks Carolyn about how she is helping the next generation of industry leaders through education and she shares inspiration that encourages continuous learning for youth, transitioning, and experienced professionals. And she’s a pretty awesome singer, too!

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Read the full transcript:

Carolyn McGarry (00:02):

Take the time to put yourself out there. Like I said, the future depends on what you do today. So if you’re out there learning and growing and making a difference, it’s really going to help us move our industry forward for the future.

Mike P. (00:21):

This is the Asset Champion Podcast, where we talk with facilities maintenance and asset management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization.

            This show is powered by the iOFFICE Asset Division, delivering easy-to-use maintenance management software tools to help you drive powerful asset performance.

            Hey, everybody. It’s Mike P., welcoming you to episode 14 of the Asset Champion Podcast, and I am so excited that you are here. First of all, thanks for listening. Secondly, you are in for a treat today, folks. Because I get to introduce you to a longtime friend of mine from the International Facility Management Association, Carolyn McGarry.

            You may know her as the wonder woman of FM, and you’ll find out why she has a great personality and a heart for this industry and the people in it. She certainly knows about asset management, but she also has a desire to elevate the next generation of FM and asset management leaders. You know what else? This may be one of the greatest moments in podcast karaoke history. You know why? Because I don’t sing at all. I can’t even begin to match Carolyn’s abilities.

            So much fun stuff here. It’s going to make you smile. I know you’re going to enjoy this and be inspired by it, so here we go.

            Joining us today on the Asset Champion hotline from Denver, Colorado, it’s exciting to welcome Carolyn McGarry. How are you, Carolyn?

Carolyn McGarry (01:56):

Oh, I’m doing great, long-time listener.

Mike P. (02:00):

First-time caller?

Carolyn McGarry (02:02):

Well, second-time caller.

Mike P. (02:03):

That’s right.

Carolyn McGarry (02:04):

I was on your podcast way back when it was the Facility Management Innovator, episode six.

Mike P. (02:10):

You were a top 10 early, early adopter. Almost four years ago, sitting in that convention center at IFMAS World Workplace after your incredible stage performance as the wonder woman of FM, sharing your story, and it was awesome to have you on the show. So thanks for coming back.

Carolyn McGarry (02:30):

Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Mike P. (02:32):

Obviously, we know each other, Carolyn. We go way back, and it’s been a blast getting to know you over the years and doing a lot of events together. IFMA’s a great family and community, and we’re going to talk about that, as well as other things you’ve been working on. But what have you been up to? What’s the current Carolyn McGarry wonder woman status?

Carolyn McGarry (02:52):

I am currently a year into a company called EML. That’s short for the Electronic Metrology Laboratory. Sounds really cool. Right?

Mike P. (03:03):

I does. I like that.

Carolyn McGarry (03:04):

But essentially, we’re an operations and maintenance contractor for the federal government.

Mike P. (03:09):


Carolyn McGarry (03:10):

I manage a contract of about two to two-and-a-half million square feet. I wear many hats, and we partner with our client to make their client happy.

Mike P. (03:21):

I see. Do you manage assets? Is that something you could talk about today?

Carolyn McGarry (03:25):

Yep. Yep. My many hats include health and safety training, managing the deliverables to the client, so all of our reporting, our quality control and then the CMMS, or computerized maintenance management system.

Mike P. (03:41):

Well, perfect. I can learn so much from you. I am sure, and I look forward to getting into some of those details. But before we get too far, Carolyn, I got to ask you about music. I don’t think we talked about this when we first got together, because you had a very brief appearance, and it was before music became a big part of my podcasting format. So do you have a favorite motivational song or type of music that gets you inspired?

Carolyn McGarry (04:06):

I have a special treat for you, Mike.

Mike P. (04:08):

Oh-oh, what’s this?

Carolyn McGarry (04:11):

You might not know this about me, but I love singing and I love karaoke.

Mike P. (04:15):

I did not know this. This is fascinating. You go to bars and sing in karaoke machines and things like that?

Carolyn McGarry (04:21):

I used to. It’s one of the first dates I ever had with my husband.

Mike P. (04:25):

Oh, that’s fantastic. I didn’t know that. That’s wonderful.

Carolyn McGarry (04:28):

I’m usually pretty shy unless I know all the words, obviously.

Mike P. (04:32):

Of course. Of course. We don’t have a karaoke machine to put the words on the screen here, but-

Carolyn McGarry (04:37):

Right. But in September, I’m going to go visit my best friend in Virginia.

Mike P. (04:42):

Hey, that’s where I live.

Carolyn McGarry (04:44):

We’re going to record an album for her in-laws’ wedding anniversary,

Mike P. (04:48):

An album. You’re actually-

Carolyn McGarry (04:49):


Mike P. (04:49):

… recording an album. Wow.

Carolyn McGarry (04:51):

But this song, I told her I wanted to put on the album because it’s near and dear to my heart. It’s special to me for a few reasons. One of which is, I really do have a lot of dreams and plans on how I want to impact the world of facility management. I’m just really passionate about IFMA.

Mike P. (05:09):


Carolyn McGarry (05:10):

It’s not a facility management song, obviously, but if you listen to the words, you can hear some ties to it.

Mike P. (05:17):

Hmm. Now you really have me intrigued. You have me intrigued. Lay it on me.

Carolyn McGarry (05:17):


Mike P. (05:17):


Carolyn McGarry (05:17):


Mike P. (05:17):


Carolyn McGarry (05:17):


Mike P. (05:17):


Carolyn McGarry (05:17):


Mike P. (05:17):


Carolyn McGarry (05:17):


Mike P. (06:42):

You are not only wonder woman, but the greatest show woman. The greatest showman. There it is. Listen, I wanted to just let you roll with that because I am no Hugh Jackman, Carolyn. I could not do anything to add to that. That was awesome. Thank you for sharing. A real singer on the Asset Champion Podcast. That was wonderful. Wow. Good stuff.

Carolyn McGarry (07:04):

I’m here all day. No, I’m just kidding.

Mike P. (07:06):

So to say, dreams do come true.

Carolyn McGarry (07:09):

The world we’re going to make, we can live in a world we design.

Mike P. (07:12):

I did picked up on that, connecting it to the theme of this show is something I do appreciate. So thanks for doing that. That was certainly inspirational, but do you have a quote prepared for us that you could share with the audience as well?

Carolyn McGarry (07:25):

Sure. Both of these thoughts are in a case study article I just wrote for the September, October FMJ.

Mike P. (07:33):

Oh, wow.

Carolyn McGarry (07:34):

Sorry. Shameless plugs, wink, wink.

Mike P. (07:36):

Do it. Love it. That’s what we’re here for.

Carolyn McGarry (07:38):

But I put both of these thoughts in there to kind of help promote action. I think you’ll like them. The first one here, it’s a random internet thought.

Mike P. (07:48):


Carolyn McGarry (07:49):

When people talk about traveling to the past, they’re always worried about radically changing the present by doing something small.

Mike P. (07:56):

The butterfly effect.

Carolyn McGarry (07:57):

Yeah, but do you ever hear somebody in the present worry about doing something small and drastically changing their future?

Mike P. (08:05):

Hmm, interesting. Yeah, that would-

Carolyn McGarry (08:07):

Isn’t it crazy?

Mike P. (08:08):

That would make a boring movie, if we just focus on the present. We need to go back in time to make it fun. But I get your point, really good. Got to start projecting out to the future and think about, what could we do today, even small steps, to have a big, big impact in the long-term. Right?

Carolyn McGarry (08:25):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Then the second one is from Gandhi, and he said, “The future depends on what you do today.”

Mike P. (08:33):

There you go, tying it all together.

Carolyn McGarry (08:36):

I mean, you think about, the future is out there. It’s not written yet, and we can have a big impact on what that looks like if we just start doing stuff right now. Do stuff today. Don’t wait for somebody else to do it. We can live in a world that we design.

Mike P. (08:55):

Awesome. Nothing more needs to be said. I can’t add to that. That’s awesome. Well, how about a business book or a leader that has influenced you, Carolyn? Any come to mind?

Carolyn McGarry (09:06):

I think my greatest weakness is that I have a really hard time reading nonfiction.

Mike P. (09:13):

Why? You want to talk about Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings? Or …

Carolyn McGarry (09:15):

Yeah. I can read fiction day in, day out, but I love all of the business books out there. I’ve purchased quite a few of the ones that you guys talk about on Workplace Innovator, and it’s kind of hard to finish the entire book. I’ve got a really nice bookshelf over here.

Mike P. (09:32):

Well, that’s okay. It looks like you’re studied up by having it on your bookshelf in the background, especially during Zoom meetings today.

Carolyn McGarry (09:39):

But the last one I actually read cover to cover was called The Re-invention Roadmap by Liz Ryan.

Mike P. (09:46):

Oh yeah.

Carolyn McGarry (09:49):

She wants to transform the world of HR.

Mike P. (09:51):

Right. I’ve used some of her quotes in the past.

Carolyn McGarry (09:53):

Yeah. A few years ago when I was kind of unhappy where my career path was headed, I read it to, I guess helped me start to build my focus a little better.

Mike P. (10:08):

Cool. I do want to tap into your experience and your knowledge as a practitioner. So from your perspective, from your point of view, what is it you think of when I say the words asset management? How do you define it?

Carolyn McGarry (10:21):

I actually like the ISO 41011 definition. ISO 41000, of course, is the new facility management standard.

Mike P. (10:30):


Carolyn McGarry (10:31):

They give it the definition of an item, an entity or thing that has potential or actual value to an organization. Of course, in facility management terms, that can be pretty much anything, land, buildings, equipment. Then in building operations and maintenance, where my meat and potatoes are right now.

Mike P. (10:53):


Carolyn McGarry (10:54):

We know that that is the second highest cost for a business. So when I think of assets, I’m thinking of that, of the second biggest cost. And how, if I’m maintaining those assets well, that I’m improving energy efficiency for my customer, for the building, I am making sure things run smoothly and productively, it’s actually a really big impact. Because if the building is running smoothly and nobody has to worry about it, then the people inside are the most productive selves, and they’re providing a lot of value to the organization.

Mike P. (11:30):

Absolutely. Well, you’ve been in the world of FM for a long time and had a number of different roles and responsibilities. What do you see as some of the biggest trends, the shifts going on in the marketplace today, and maybe even tied with the accelerant that’s been put on it by COVID-19 and the fact that we’re living during a pandemic these days?

Carolyn McGarry (11:51):

Oh man, that’s a big question.

Mike P. (11:54):

It is.

Carolyn McGarry (11:55):

I see, especially with how COVID’s affecting everybody, it’s been a good six months. Right?

Mike P. (11:55):


Carolyn McGarry (12:02):

I’m already seeing an impact on how we learn, how we teach, how people are getting their information, how and when we work. If you look at it, a lot of people are working from home. They’re learning how to make that work, even with kids or partners with pets. Nobody can hear my cat banging on the office door right now.

Mike P. (12:28):

You got to have one of those Zoom moments. If we were on video, you’d see your cat pop in and jump on your lap?

Carolyn McGarry (12:33):

Pretty much.

Mike P. (12:34):

That’s awesome.

Carolyn McGarry (12:35):

One of them you would see crawl up the front and try to headbutt me in the chin. It’s very adorable. It’s happened.

Mike P. (12:43):

That’s awesome.

Carolyn McGarry (12:44):

Actually, we bought our cats ties so they could also be businesslike.

Mike P. (12:48):

That’s very good. You want them to look the part, look professional.

Carolyn McGarry (12:51):


Mike P. (12:51):

They’re not wearing pants though. They’re not wearing pants.

Carolyn McGarry (12:53):

No. And then expanding our reach. Something we did this year was, as soon as everything shut down, we realized we still wanted to … The FM Pipeline Team did, wanted to still have something to engage students in facility management. And we moved our Facilithon online. This expanded our reach to get judges from other places, including Canada and Egypt.

Mike P. (13:26):


Carolyn McGarry (13:26):

It was really cool. It’s something we never would have done had COVID not happened.

Mike P. (13:31):

Yeah. It’s one of those surprising silver linings of this whole situation. I think we’re all discovering. How about technology? Can we shift to that real quick and to get your thoughts about technology tools? I know you work with CMMS systems, but also talk about ways that technology can help us manage assets, be more efficient, maintaining facilities and delivering the outcomes that our organizations demand.

Carolyn McGarry (13:55):

I think the big thing there is just having something in place. I think one of your previous folks talked about a lot of people are still trying to maintain their assets on paper or on a spreadsheet. If you have two-and-a-half million square feet, that doesn’t really work. Right?

Mike P. (14:15):


Carolyn McGarry (14:16):

Most of my experience in the past before my current role has been using the CMMS as a work order management system, which of course, is a teeny-tiny piece of what you can really use it for. It wasn’t until I got here that I really started utilizing the system from that backside, where I’m up adding assets. I’m making changes to them. I’m recommending removal of decommissioned ones. I’m adding and modifying PMs to align with our O&M strategy.

Mike P. (14:49):

Since you’ve had to some new things, has it been a challenge? Are there any tips you can give to our audience about learning a new technology or new opportunities as they come in your career?

Carolyn McGarry (15:01):

I’m a continuous learner.

Mike P. (15:03):


Carolyn McGarry (15:03):

So my big thing is, always learn what you can, when you can. If there’s an opportunity to learn something new, go out and grab it. Specifically, to assets and managing those big things. I have seen a lot of, and now I’m kind of living. Is, no what you have, make the time to figure it out. What I mean by this is, you need to understand what you have and what condition it’s in in order to make all your other decisions moving forward.

            So if you have a system and you don’t put in the assets consistently and accurately and completely, you’re just going to have a mess. When people see a mess, they get frustrated and they don’t want to use it. So in order to make sure everybody’s using it consistently, you have to have good information in there. That just, it takes time.

Mike P. (16:01):

Carolyn, I know you’re a big fan of IFMA as am I, you are very passionate about helping the next generation of facility management professionals grow in their careers. Talk briefly about what you’ve been doing with the FM Pipeline.

Carolyn McGarry (16:14):

In the spring, I taught an Essentials of Facility Management class in collaboration with the city and county of Denver’s Workforce Development and the IFMA foundation. Our chapter got together and started helping workforce development, looking at this kind of stuff. We taught eight students about facility management, and then worked to help them get jobs afterwards.

Mike P. (16:40):


Carolyn McGarry (16:40):

Half the class was online, and I wrote a little case study about it. That’s going to show up in the FMJ here shortly.

Mike P. (16:49):


Carolyn McGarry (16:49):

Also, our FM Pipeline Team puts on a competition called The Facilithon for high schools-age students. And so, what we’re doing is engaging, enlightening and energizing the next gen of FM through an organization called SkillsUSA.

Mike P. (17:08):

Yes. Mike Rose, the spokesperson, right?

Carolyn McGarry (17:11):


Mike P. (17:11):

Dirty Jobs.

Carolyn McGarry (17:11):

From Dirty Jobs.

Mike P. (17:12):

Dirty Jobs, yes.

Carolyn McGarry (17:14):

Yeah. I engaged youth from a workforce development standpoint, we’re engaged in youth online from the FM Pipeline standpoint, and then I am now officially an affiliate instructor from Metro State University of Denver.

Mike P. (17:32):

Cool. Well, let’s make sure we leave everybody with some great inspiration and advice. If some of those future asset management and facility management leaders are out there listening, looking for advice, what would you tell them, Carolyn?

Carolyn McGarry (17:48):

Take the time to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid. Don’t turn into a couch potato. Like I said, the future depends on what you do today. So if you’re out there learning and growing and making a difference, it’s really going to help us move our industry forward for the future.

Mike P. (18:08):

Carolyn, that’s fantastic. This has been awesome. Really enjoyed our time together. Thanks for being on the show today.

Carolyn McGarry (18:14):

Thank you, Mike. I am excited to be an asset champion.

Mike P. (18:19):

Yes. Awesome. Peace out. I feel like I need to say, “Peace out, everybody.”

Carolyn McGarry (18:23):

Peace out, everybody.

Mike P. (18:24):

Excellent. Thank you. There you have it, everyone. Carolyn McGarry of EML and IFMA, sharing just a little bit to inspire us on our asset management and facilities maintenance journey. I really enjoyed catching up with Carolyn, and I hope you enjoyed hearing that.

            If you want to learn more about the things that she is working on, about IFMA, about the FM Pipeline, please check the show notes. I have left for you a link to get in touch with Carolyn directly. Please tell her you heard her on the show. Until next time, thank you so much for listening today.

            If you enjoyed this show, take a moment, head over to Apple Podcasts and leave us a rating and a brief review. If you know anybody else who may benefit from this program, please tell them to hop on board because we have plenty of room on this train, as we continue down the tracks on this journey to encourage and inspire each other to be an asset champion. Peace out.

            You’ve been listening to the Asset Champion Podcast. We hope you found this discussion beneficial, as we work together to elevate asset management success by improving efficiency, reducing costs and building best practices.

            For more information about how the iOFFICE Asset Division can boost the performance of your physical assets by providing comprehensive enterprise asset management software solutions, please visit

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As the host of both the Workplace Innovator Podcast and the Asset Champion Podcast, Mike's role at Eptura is to share thought leadership with CRE, FM, and IT leaders in the digital and hybrid workplace. As an in-demand public speaker, Mike engages audiences with his focus on the human element of workplace and facility management at International Facility Management Association, CoreNet, and other industry events.

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