On the Job with Robert Crowder
What is the biggest lesson you've learned working in the profession?
The biggest lesson was that in order to be an effective leader, I must show an appreciation for the diversity of the workforce. I foster a supportive environment allowing those with special considerations to feel that as a leader, I’m approachable in the case of family emergencies, religious events, and other times of personal significance. This can help employees feel more comfortable with perceived differences in the workplace, encouraging them to share their insight, personal customs, and ethnic cultural backgrounds with fellow workers.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing facilities management?
Some of the biggest challenges we face are aging and expanding facilities, technological change, and changing demographics. Insufficient facilities are considered one of the top challenges based on what I’ve observed, and I think this is a traditional challenge for most universities.
Describe a memorable day on the job?
It has been 32 years since Emory University built the Dobb’s University Center, but the university’s landscape is poised to change with an ambitious plan to construct a new student center building over the next two years—the Campus Life Center. The first day of demolition was a pause in time as the students, staff, and visitors watched the first brick fall. The new building is a great motivator for students and staff as a sign of progress at the university.
What is one project or innovation you're proud to have helped implement?
What’s been rewarding and has made me proud is having had the opportunity to manage and supervise facilities improvements and furniture, fixtures, and equipment projects. I’ve been collaborative with facilities management and with planning, design, and construction with regard to the many office and space build-outs, painting needs, and furniture selection. Assisting housing and their outside vendors with previous projects such as flooring installation, painting projects, and overall facilities preparation for new and returning students, staff, and faculty has also been a point of pride. Finally, being able to manage projects for the Alumni Memorial University Center and assisting with our Campus Life Center design.