“Within the property management field, building operators are among the most difficult positions to fill,” says Charles Stade, GWL’s vice-president of national commercial property management. “With this program, we hope to increase awareness about the importance of the building operator role in the overall management of well-run commercial buildings.”
Many building operators are aging and retiring, which has led to an industry-wide shrinking of the talent pool. And new high-performance green buildings and more sophisticated operational requirements have changed the role and demand a new skill set that many current building operators might not fully grasp.
Automated building systems, tenant engagement in environmental programs, monitoring waste management programs, commissioning and re-commissioning are a few tasks now considered essential to the job.
Property managers have traditionally been considered generalist “jacks-of-all-trades” who responded to tenant requests and oversaw basic operational requirements of a building. But new complex building systems require the people in these positions to be increasingly technology-savvy and specialized. Building operators help find energy efficiencies, maintain building certifications and reduce environmental impacts of buildings while playing an important part in meeting the high expectations of tenants.
GWL is a real estate investment advisor that provides comprehensive asset management, property management, development and specialized real estate advisory services to pension funds and institutional clients. Its holdings include both LEED-certified structures featuring the latest in sustainable design principles and heritage buildings. It’s therefore in the company’s best interests to help develop as many skilled building operators as possible.
Three-month co-op placement
The Building Operator Partnership Program will include a three-month co-op placement that will provide hands-on experience and a scholarship that will provide financial assistance to a student pursuing a career in the field. Both the co-op placement and the scholarship will be open to students enrolled in the building systems engineering technology program at Seneca College’s Newnham campus in Toronto.
“Career development and training is very important, so the launch of a dedicated program to assist in addressing the property management talent gap was a natural fit for us,” says Michele Walkau, GWL’s senior vice-president of corporate services. “With a portfolio of 287 properties under management, we are well-positioned to be a part of the solution by providing a hands-on learning environment and talent to attract the next generation of building operators to our company.”