On a brisk, sunny morning this past May, Don Lucy jogged up several concrete steps, crossed a small plaza, and entered a nondescript office building. He passed through a glass door and walked to where a plastic X had been placed on the lobby floor. A moment later, a receptionist waved him forward. She checked his ID, then directed him to a row of standing lockers—personal belongings weren’t allowed where he was going.
After stowing his watch, keys, and phone, Don pushed his way through another door, stood on another plastic X. When he was called forward, he walked to a large desk where a man sat at a computer. Don had to show his ID again, and remove his face mask so that the man could confirm his identity. Then Don was asked to take off his glasses and place them in a box on the table. He did so, then watched as the man at the table inspected them carefully.
A moment later, Don was allowed to retrieve his glasses, but the intense scrutiny wasn’t over. He was asked to hold his arms out, lift his pants legs above his socks. Don complied with each of these requests, waiting patiently for the man to confirm that he wasn’t carrying any electronic devices. Finally, the man at the table nodded his approval. Don was finally cleared to pass through the third and final door.
These kinds of security measures bring to mind images of national intelligence briefings. But Don is not, in fact, a secret agent. He is PRIDE Industries’ General Manager of Commercial Facilities Services for the NorCal Region. And he’d gone to the office building that May morning to take an important test—the Certified Facilities Manager (CFM) Examination.
Not many tests require their takers to undergo such scrutiny, but the CFM exam isn’t just any test. The exam is administered by the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA), and it’s demanding. Test-takers must answer 180 questions in just four hours, on topics covering everything from financial risk management to real estate strategies to health and safety issues. IFMA doesn’t disclose the pass rate for the exam, but given that there are only 2,600 CFMs in the world, it can’t be too high.
Don knew the test would be a challenge. So he’d prepared, spending over 100 hours studying and practicing. And the hard work paid off. In early May, he was notified that he had passed.
Don is now one of a handful of credentialed CFMs here at PRIDE, a group that includes his manager, Chris Bunch, who Don credits with encouraging him to take on the challenge.
“When Chris first talked to me about CFM certification, he made it clear he was confident I could do it,” Don said. “That meant a lot to me.”
The knowledge and skills Don gained on his way to becoming a CFM will serve him well in his job as General Manager, a role he undertook this past January. As GM for the NorCal Region, he oversees 21 service contracts worth $33 million. He’s also responsible for the day-to-day operations of nearly 3 million square feet of facility space and leads a team of more than 350 employees. It’s a complex job, but if his performance on the CFM test is any indication, Don is more than up to the task.
So what’s next for the newly minted CFM?
“I’m just glad the test is behind me and that the certification came through,” Don says. “Now I can focus on the reason I did all that learning in the first place—applying best practices to PRIDE’s business lines.”