Nikki Rizer | Building a Career in the Facilities Industry
In celebration of the incredible women behind-the-scenes and in the field at SSC Services for Education, we have spent the month fostering intentional conversations to learn about the experiences our team members have in the industry. This week, we spoke with Nikki Rizer, Project Manager in Training.
Nikki experienced a smooth transition to SSC following a previous internship with Eurest, another sector of Compass Group. A connection she met during that internship gave her an opportunity to learn more about the facilities side of the business as an intern on a remote project management team with SSC. Throughout her senior year of college, Nikki supported the Texas A&M University system, traveling to College Station to learn the business and get to know the SSC team while completing her undergraduate degree at James Madison University in Virginia.
Following graduation, Nikki stepped into SSC’s full-time Manager in Training program, where she has been learning and growing for the past nine months. This program has expanded her knowledge and industry experience exponentially, allowing her the opportunity to travel to our partner campuses both local to her in Charlotte, NC, and across the United States to learn firsthand what it takes to run a facilities management program in the education industry.
Nikki has quickly learned that as a facilities manager, a day in the life can differ significantly based on the campus. Depending on the partner school, SSC could be involved with just one line of service, or provide a full-service package of custodial, grounds and maintenance. The opportunity to travel to different accounts has been vital to Nikki’s learning experience and has shown her that one thing to always expect in the industry is the unexpected.
“The most difficult part about any day is the unpredictability aspect, whether it is a natural disaster near campus or something like a water leak that couldn’t be predicted. The unexpected happens often, and that is something I have been able to learn from. It’s always good to be prepared for the good and the bad.”
As a young woman in the facilities industry, Nikki has unique perspectives to offer SSC and our partner schools. She is leading the way for other women to make an impact, and she offers excellent advice to anyone who is looking to succeed in the industry: Always be willing to learn and grow from other perspectives, and don’t hesitate to share your own.
“Women have a unique opportunity because it is a predominantly male industry. I’m proud that I bring a different perspective to the table, and I hope that I can inspire other women to take a leadership role in facilities. Gaining knowledge and understanding of the work that we do comes with time, patience, and the ability to adapt to new settings and scenarios. Lean on the people you’ve met along the way, who want to see you succeed, and who want to see more women in the industry.”
When it comes to facing obstacles or challenges, Nikki also takes a strong stance on how to best handle tough moments:
“Being a young female leader in the industry, most of the obstacles I have faced, I have tried to view as an opportunity to grow. Graduating from college and starting in a manager role in a male dominated industry has given me the opportunity to prove myself and the knowledge that I have to offer. I try to take a step back and look at the big picture of what SSC needs us to accomplish, and what the client wants us to accomplish, and take it step-by-step to get to that goal.”
While learning the ropes at SSC, Nikki has found mentors to offer industry knowledge and support.
“From my A&M experience. Paul Tisch and Felix Flores have been my mentors since the start. They took me under their wings and showed me the facilities world, and they are the people I can always call or email to ask questions. They’ve also always been supportive of seeing more women in the facilities industry, and they have a lot of women working alongside them in facilities and maintenance already.”
From a broader career perspective, Nikki has found support in Shannon Thornton, SSC’s Director of Human Resources.
“Shannon has served as a guide towards the whole career process for me. She is always thinking about what’s best for me, and what a great next step would be for my career. I have always really respected her as a strong woman in a leadership role, and she is a key indicator of everything that I’ve experienced at SSC.”
One thing is certain: Within SSC, there is no shortage of people willing and able to help associates who are motivated and ready to grow.
“I have so many different male and female connections who have been in the industry a lot longer than I have and they are so willing to teach me the hands-on things I never would have known otherwise. They want me to learn so that I understand what they do on a day-to-day basis, because that makes it easier on them and it makes me a better leader as well.”