Boulder Campus Staff Council represents, informs and educates staff employees by serving as a liaison between employees and Boulder campus, University system and State administration. We also recommend proposals to the administration that are designed to improve morale and advocate for the rights of staff employees. We are pleased to continue our Employee Spotlight series to highlight the diverse stories of our employees. This spotlight focuses on Lisa Potter, associate director of Facilities Operations in the Department of Facilities Management.
As Associate Director of Facilities Operations, what do you do?
I help oversee Facilities Operations, the largest work unit in Facilities Management with just shy of 200 staff. Currently there are three of us are co-leading the division. It includes recycling and solid waste, custodial, integrated pest management, safety, and work process. I also chair our FM Customer Service committee, conduct customer focus group sessions, and work on many specialty projects.
What do you like best about your job?
Working with people and learning more about them. We have an extremely diverse staff in Facilities Management, from different backgrounds and cultures. I also like helping others succeed and get ahead by assisting them with professional development opportunities.
You've worked at CU for a long time. Tell us about that.
Thirty-three years! I started working here when I was in high school as a part-time custodian -- it paid a little bit better than retail and included benefits while I worked my way through college. I have been here ever since and literally worked my way up from the bottom. I went from custodian to custodial training program to a shift manager. Then, in 1989, I had the opportunity to get our Facilities Management recycling collections program up and running from scratch. In 1991, the university and CU Student Government created a partnership for recycling. We opened the Integrated Processing Facility and I supervised all the recycling collections and student sorters. In 1996, I proved to the administration that we could handle in-house solid waste collection and so we started a program on campus. In '98, I had the opportunity to move up to become Assistant Director of Facilities Management, overseeing recycling, solid waste, and custodial operations. In the early 2000s, the department created the Facilities Operations division and I transitioned to Associate Director of Facilities Operations. We also added an integrated pest management program to the division.
Of your various accomplishments over the years, what stands out the most?
One of my biggest challenges was getting the campus recycling and solid waste programs up and running. We had to figure out how to make the programs effective with minimal staff, and there was a lot of trial and error. We started out with three staff members promoted from custodial. Finding just the right vehicles and collection equipment was challenging for our campus. For example, we started out using 2-yard containers, moved on to 55-gallon metal drums, and then to plastic drums for collections. We finally adopted polycarts as soon as they came onto the market. Polycarts are much easier and safer for our staff to handle since they didn’t require dollies and are easily tipped back and moved. To make our program successful and efficient, we had to search for the most effective means. I have been blessed by hiring the right people to keep my internal work units running smoothly and moving ahead. I couldn’t do my job without them and their expertise.
You were recently awarded a Pacesetter Award from APPA, the professional organization for educational facilities management. Tell us about your work with APPA.
I volunteer with APPA on a variety of projects in the Rocky Mountain region, from co-hosting regional events, supervisor trainings, workshops, and leadership academies to being fortunate enough to assist with teaching a credentialing program prep course at various institutions. I love working with APPA as the organization really helps educational facilities management staff with professional development. APPA’s goal is to promote the field, ensure that facilities management employees are recognized as professionals, and provide networking opportunities. Facilities Management staff are professionals, not elves who come in the middle of the night.
What advice would you give to facilities staff who aspire to advance their careers?
Ask for professional development. Take advantage of the free classes offered by the university’s Office of Organizational and Employee Development. Take classes, even if it's on your own time. Every little bit helps because when a position opens and you have taken the classes, you may have just a bit more knowledge and experience which can only help you do better in interviews, which in return will help you advance in your career. Don't be afraid to leap ahead from being a custodian or recycling worker to a supervisor. At least interview for the position and gain interviewing experience.