Cameron Christensen, CEFP, FMP is Associate Vice President of Facilities Management at The Juilliard School in New York City and the author of the book, “Building T.E.A.M.S.: A Guide to Capital Needs Analysis” which he wrote with his late father. Mike Petrusky revisits his trip last year to the Big Apple when he met with Cam in person and they discussed asset management and facilities maintenance in the “age of acceleration” where the impact of technology is significant. Mike asks Cam to tell the story of how he picked up the mantle of his father’s work and finished the book he began about recapitalization planning and total cost of ownership modeling while also addressing the value of data and other elements that impact the built environment. With his new asset management focused perspective, Mike now understands more about the technical side of Cameron’s expertise, but they still both agree that “facilities management is people management” and they celebrate with a Maynard Ferguson inspired trumpet edition of “podcast karaoke”!
Connect with Cameron on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cameron-christensen-cefp-fmp-3531515/
Order Cam’s book at www.BuildingTEAMSBook.com and use the coupon code (DJMikeP) for 20% off the paperback.
Connect with Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikepetrusky/
Learn more about the iOFFICE Asset Division and explore more interviews at: https://www.assetchampion.com/
Share your thoughts with Mike via email: podcast@iOFFICECORP.com
Read the full transcript:
Cameron Christensen (00:01):
As we do recapitalization planning and total cost of ownership modeling, one of the things that we are seeing is that life cycles of facilities and assets and major systems, is getting shorter and increasing the total recapitalization side of the total cost of ownership model.
Mike Petrusky (00:20):
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, and welcome back to the Asset Champion Podcast. I’m Mike Petrusky. This is episode eight of the show. And as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I am very blessed to have many friends from the facility management community that have taught me a lot over the years. And some have actually joined me on my other podcasts, where we would occasionally discuss, in quite a bit of detail, the topic of asset management. And when I started this podcast, I knew that I would want to share some of those past discussions with you.
So today, I am very excited to revisit a conversation that was recorded last year during one of my trips up to New York City, when I visited the Juilliard School, which was incredible, and I had the chance to meet in person with an industry leader who is also a book author and just an all around awesome guy.
His name is Cameron Christensen, and I connected with him again recently, just to catch up and ask his permission to use this discussion. As we talked about enterprise asset management, recapitalization, and long-term capital needs planning, so many of the principles and strategies that are part of what I learned make up the total cost of ownership framework.
And I have to be honest, when I first interviewed Cam and discussed his book, a lot of what he was talking about really went over my head completely. But now, as I’ve been learning so much more about asset management from my first several guests here, I think I’m beginning to understand what Cameron was talking about. With that said, the part of the discussion that I always enjoy the most, and is truly timeless, is when I ask questions about the human side of my guests. And as you will hear, Cam and I find we have many things in common. So with that as the background, here we go.
Hey, this is amazing. In New York City. Folks, the call came. I can’t believe it. It’s finally happened. I am at the Juilliard School. They must have heard my singing on the podcast. No, no, just kidding. Actually, I am here visiting a longtime friend of the podcast. It’s Cameron Christensen. Welcome to the show.
Cameron Christensen (02:54):
Thanks, Mike. Thanks for having me.
Mike Petrusky (02:56):
Cam is the associate vice president of facilities management here at Juilliard. And you have a long history of facility management leadership, especially in the world of higher education institutions. Tell me a little bit about your FM journey.
Cameron Christensen (03:11):
Sure. Well, I’m probably one of the few who actually went to school to study facilities management.
Mike Petrusky (03:18):
Cameron Christensen (03:19):
So I initially went to college on a trumpet performance scholarship, going to study music education. And as fun as that was, as much as I loved that, I found something that I loved just as much from a professional standpoint, and that’s facilities management. I studied facilities management at BYU, at the encouragement of my father, a longtime facilities professional. He’s worked for BYU for 40 years in capital planning.
Mike Petrusky (03:47):
A legend in the field.
Cameron Christensen (03:50):
A legend in the-
Mike Petrusky (03:50):
And we’re going to talk about that in just a minute.
Cameron Christensen (03:50):
An absolute legend in the field. And I’ve worked in… Mostly my career has been in higher education. I’ve been from California to New York and Chicago to Alabama. I’ve been all over the country. And being here at Juilliard is just a very natural, very perfect fusion of that experience.
Mike Petrusky (04:11):
You got called up to the big leagues.
Cameron Christensen (04:13):
Mike Petrusky (04:13):
Cameron Christensen (04:14):
Mike Petrusky (04:15):
Were you a fan of Maynard Ferguson growing up?
Cameron Christensen (04:17):
Loved Maynard Ferguson.
Mike Petrusky (04:18):
Cameron Christensen (04:19):
I remember seeing him in concert when I was in high school. He’s phenomenal, phenomenal trumpet-
Mike Petrusky (04:24):
Cameron Christensen (04:25):
Mike Petrusky (04:27):
(singing) Join in any time, Cam. (singing).
Cameron Christensen (04:39):
Mike Petrusky (04:39):
How was that?
Cameron Christensen (04:39):
That was beautiful. That was great. You’re good, Mike. I was just listening to you. That’s some pretty talented stuff you got there.
Mike Petrusky (04:46):
He did so many great things, great trumpeter hitting some amazing notes.
Cameron Christensen (04:50):
I don’t know how he hits those notes. I tried and I think I popped a blood vessel in my brain.
Mike Petrusky (04:56):
It looked like he was going to every time he performed.
Cameron Christensen (04:59):
Mike Petrusky (05:00):
So Cam, we want to help our audience start their day on the right foot today. Do you have a favorite inspirational quote you can share with us?
Cameron Christensen (05:08):
I say this every day. My dad said this to me. He said, “Just remember, facilities management is people management, and we bring the buildings along for laughs.”
Mike Petrusky (05:21):
Yes. I have that written down here. If you weren’t going to say it, I was. That is awesome.
Cameron Christensen (05:27):
So it epitomized my dad’s philosophy for facilities management, how it’s all about relationships, it’s how you treat people, it’s how you work with people, bringing them together in a common vision, a common goal, all levels of the organization. And it’s all about relationships, because the facilities really don’t maintain themselves. As smart as our buildings are, they still need that human touch, the human intervention.
Mike Petrusky (05:59):
So I imagine that’s what you’re most passionate about, the ability to apply all you’ve learned from your dad, from your education in FM, and now this, you’re bringing it here to Juilliard. What are you most excited about? Now you see all these students walking around. You’re actually preparing a place for them to achieve great things, and you get to be a part of that.
Cameron Christensen (06:19):
Absolutely. We talk a lot about IFMA on the podcast. There’s another professional association I’m part of it’s called APPA. It’s very similar to IFMA but it focuses in on educational facilities professionals. And they’ve done a lot of research on the role of facilities in recruiting, retaining students and ensuring student success, things like workflow management, capital planning, aesthetic improvements, smarter buildings, technology. Had a conversation just last week about IOT and bringing in internet of things.
Mike Petrusky (06:58):
Excellent. So many different things happening in the world of the built environment. From your perspective, what are some of the significant trends that you are seeing in the workplace today?
Cameron Christensen (07:10):
That’s a great question, Mike. At the most recent APPA regional meeting, the executive vice president for APPA gave a phenomenal presentation on the future of higher ed facilities and where we’re going. And a lot of her remarks were based on a book by Thomas Friedman, World is Flat, the author, New York Times columnist.
So his latest work is Thank You for Being Late. Talks about living in a world of accelerations. And he talks a lot about these various things that are accelerating, technology, globalization, and climate change. And the executive vice president for APPA, her name is Lander, Lander Medlin. Lander brought a lot of these concepts into our world as higher education facility professionals and the built environment, understanding that technology is evolving so fast with… The latest switch is the shift from programmatic computing to cognitive computing, which is really driving a lot of the IOT.
And it’s allowing our staff in facilities, they’re doing less analytics, doing more work, because the computers are looking for patterns. It’s looking for solutions. It’s looking for suggestions. What’s not too far off the horizon is self retro-commissioning facilities. A lot of times we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars bringing in a company to retro-commission our facilities. A lot of those retro-commissioning initiatives, a lot of them were just programmatic. We just changed a program here, set point here, we restore a default here, and these computers are going to be able to do all this without any human intervention.
And so when we think about where the industry is going from a technological standpoint, it’s pretty amazing in a world of accelerations with Moore’s Law and things like that that are going to really kick it into high gear. And we’re going to need to be able to be at cutting edge just to keep up.
Mike Petrusky (09:21):
Absolutely. And we have to be lifelong learners and willing to leverage the technology to whatever our role will be 5, 10, 20 years from now. So that book was great, and there was another book, or maybe it was just a podcast on Freakonomics Radio, that really brings this all full circle for me. And it’s almost the paradox of, while innovation and there’s an acceleration of technology, there’s also this need that continues for maintenance and continuing to understand and care for the existing infrastructure. Right? So there’s this… You’re pulled in two directions in a lot of ways. How do you manage that?
Cameron Christensen (10:03):
That’s another great question, Mike, because one of the things that we’re seeing, as we do recapitalization planning and total cost of ownership modeling, one of the things that we are seeing is that life cycles of facilities and assets, and major systems, is getting shorter and increasing the total recapitalization side of the total cost of ownership model. So as you said, it is going to require us to be even sharper when it comes to our recapitalization and long-term capital needs planning.
Mike Petrusky (10:36):
Well, that’s a great segue, Cam, into this book. I wanted to talk to you about it. You have written a book. It’s called Building TEAMS, a Guide to Capital Needs Analysis. And the TEAMS is an acronym for what?
Cameron Christensen (10:50):
Total Enterprise Asset Management Solutions.
Mike Petrusky (10:54):
That’s right. And this is your dad’s life work. The story here is a special one. So for those who don’t know, Cam, tell the story briefly of how this book came to be.
Cameron Christensen (11:06):
So my dad got sick, and I went to see him for the last time. It’s about a month before he passed. And I walked into his hospital room. And it was so funny. I still remember it exactly to this day. He said, “Oh, good. You’re here. Let’s get to work.” I said-
Mike Petrusky (11:29):
Cameron Christensen (11:29):
“What are we working on, Dad?
Mike Petrusky (11:31):
Cameron Christensen (11:31):
And he said, “I need you to finish my book.” And I told him, “Well…” What do you say to that?
Mike Petrusky (11:38):
Wow. How do you say no? So you looked at your dad’s work and then you decided to put it together into this format that summarizes the total cost of ownership modeling. What is that in a nutshell?
Cameron Christensen (11:51):
So the total cost of ownership framework consists of five sections. The initial asset costs, the first time cost. And that includes planning, design, construction, commissioning, operations, and maintenance, which is your lease, any kind of rental, maintenance, operations, administrative overhead, utilities, renewal, which is your programmatic upgrades, replacements, recapitalization. And then you have end of life, which is your sale, adaptive reuse, removal, deconstruction, demolition, any of those kind of factors. So that is the total cost of ownership framework.
Now the book focuses in on recapitalization. So it’s just one of those five parts. That’s what the Capital Needs Analysis Center at BYU focused in on, but they did it with a total cost of ownership focus. Dad’s life’s work was studying, promoting, and furthering the knowledge of total cost of ownership.
Mike Petrusky (12:59):
You do share a lot of great figures and tables. And one that jumped off the page at me was something that applies to both this subject, as well as workplace issues that leaders are facing everywhere, and this idea of the Data Maturity Model. Can you share real briefly what that’s all about?
Cameron Christensen (13:17):
The Data Maturity Model is something that Dad developed and tweaked from… Carnegie Mellon has a very similar maturity model, but this one is very specific with regards to the work that he was doing. And it’s the whole idea that data isn’t the end. Data’s actually the foundation. It’s the beginning. It’s where you start. Data gives you information, and that information turns it into knowledge. Knowledge gives you understanding of the issue, and understanding allows you to make wise decisions. So data is not the solution. Data’s the start. But it is a required foundation in order for us to make wise decisions.
Mike Petrusky (14:01):
Absolutely. We’ve already done the quote of the day for this episode, Cam, but the book’s got a bunch of great quotes about simplicity.
Cameron Christensen (14:08):
Yes. Dad always believed that the simplest solution was the best solution. The concepts that he promoted and that are highlighted in this book, they’re very simple, and they’re probably astounding in their simplicity.
Mike Petrusky (14:26):
Dr. Seuss, Cameron, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
Cameron Christensen (14:33):
That is very true in our profession. How many times do we overthink our problems?
Mike Petrusky (14:40):
In the introduction of the book, Cam, you give your description of all of the elements that are impacting the workplace in the built environment, from societal change to technological change, to economic and resource changes, and then the need to fill the FM pipeline with future leaders. So you certainly are taking a holistic view of this issue, and I think it’s great. So kudos to you.
Cameron Christensen (15:09):
Thank you. The introduction was written by my dad.
Mike Petrusky (15:12):
Cameron Christensen (15:13):
So the introduction was the only piece that he actually wrote. And so the entire book is his life’s work, based on his research, his findings, articles that he had published. The introduction was the piece that he wrote. It was the only piece that he was able to do before he got sick. And so he’d talked about writing the book for decades, and he always wanted to do it on capital needs. And so I’m just happy that I could oblige.
Mike Petrusky (15:41):
Well, amazing. And you’ve done it. You’ve pulled it together, and it’s a great tribute to your dad. It’s something you should be very proud of. I’m sure he’d be proud of you for it.
Cameron Christensen (15:49):
Thank you, Mike, appreciate that.
Mike Petrusky (15:51):
I will share a link in the show notes for the book, but you said you have a special discount code that people can use if they hear about this book on this particular podcast. What would that be?
Cameron Christensen (16:02):
I do. So if you want a copy of the book, you can get a 20% discount if you go to www.buildingteamsbook.com. And you use the program code. Are you ready for this?
Mike Petrusky (16:15):
That is what?
Cameron Christensen (16:16):
DJ Mike P.
Mike Petrusky (16:18):
Yes. All right. There you go, folks. You’ve got to go buy a copy of the book now. Awesome. So Cameron, thank you so much for having me here at Juilliard, and thanks for being on The Workplace Innovator Podcast.
Cameron Christensen (16:31):
Thanks for having me, Mike.
Mike Petrusky (16:34):
There, you have it, everybody. And hey, didn’t that sound great? No disruptions, no internet issues. Wow. It’s been so long since I have been able to record an interview in-person like that, with studio quality microphones, not to mention having that face-to-face interaction that we’ve all been missing so much.
It does make a big difference. And I look forward to getting back out there again someday. But for now, I really enjoyed revisiting my time in New York City with Cam. And I hope you enjoyed that also. Once again, the book is called Building TEAMS, a Guide to Capital Needs Analysis. As promised, I have left a link in the show notes to make it easy for you to find the book and connect with Cam.
And I wanted to let you know that during my recent conversation I had with him, Cameron updated me on the work he’s been doing at Juilliard during the pandemic, which was very interesting to hear. And he also shared that he has put together a new classroom edition of the book that should be available in the coming weeks. So please be sure to reach out to Cameron for more details and let him know that you heard about the book here on this podcast, as we continue to learn together and build our community of asset management leaders who will encourage and inspire you 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 assetchampion.com.