David D'Amore is a Chief Engineer at Able Services working at a life sciences sites in Boston, MA. He recently sat down with us to talk about his work experiences, what a 'normal' day looks like and why he enjoys his work as the onsite lead at a Research and Development facility.
What is your role and responsibilities on the job?
My role and responsibilities entail the execution and management of operations and maintenance at our client site. We are holistically accountable for utility delivery (stemming for our central utility plant), infrastructure reliability (all trades) and asset management; ensuring that the integrity of scientific research and development can be performed uninterrupted in the pursuit of desperately needed medicines for the world. I also provide a multitude of support in the areas of project development, project management and tenant operational support. Our client has recently expanded their horizons with the implementation of the “Boston Biohub” which provides small biotech/pharmaceutical start-ups with turnkey lab and office solutions; we are an integral support mechanism to their individual operations as well. I manage nine full time employees on site including a pool of per diem staff for plant operational support. Our operation is cumulative of many critical areas including a vivarium, data center, central utility plant and seven R&D buildings incorporating a footprint of just under 500,000 ft² lab/office space.
What does a normal work day look like to you?
My day begins with perusing the Johnson Controls building automation front end for any acute alarm conditions and to ensure all systems are normal; especially our critical operating environments. I then proceed to conduct my morning mechanical space inspections, including penthouses and verify all of the online equipment. The entire facilities group then congregates at 8 am for coffee and we collectively discuss the days efforts including a look-ahead for the remaining week. Whether I’m performing assigned work orders (both preventative and corrective) shortly thereafter, assisting one of my crew execute work, ensuring contractual obligations are being met by our contractors or project planning/execution; my day is quite busy but none the less fulfilling.
When did you first realize that you were good at your job?
Having come from a background in Class A commercial office, the shift to biotech/pharmaceutical operations was quite the daunting challenge. I was accustomed to systems that included no co-dependencies, no dynamic operating variables, no extensive automation controls and very limited critical operating environments. That all changed in an instant and I realized that I would have to elevate my game to succeed here. I relied on my education and training to close that gap quickly and efficiently. It was my responsibility to know as much, if not more, than the system owners. The point at which I began realizing my effectiveness was when I was able to accurately foreshadow system impacts, understand the system operational characteristics/nuances, provide detailed responses to questions asked regarding our systems of ownership and became a proven reliable extension to the site Director of Lab and Facility Operations; it was important to me that he was able to rely on me without any doubt. I consider that to be my benchmark of success, being reliably effective regardless of the situation at hand.
Who do you enjoy working with the most?
From a managerial perspective, our client site Director of Labs and Operations is responsible for constantly challenging me to be a better manager. He provides me honest perspective, leveraging his experiences and commonly providing me sound direction; he often invests in my development and I am extremely grateful for that. From a technical perspective, our client site System Specialist. I consider him one of the smartest individuals I have ever met, a true mentor and I can only hope to achieve the level of know-how that he has developed over the course of his career. From an operational perspective, my Assistant Chief Engineer. Without his support, it would be impossible to achieve what we have accomplished together as a team. He is integral in my ability to succeed and provides me the luxury of being my direct extension; something I never take for granted.
What do you like about your job?
The hard work that we perform on a daily basis transcends further than that of just a pay-check. Our work has a powerful impact worldwide and sometimes those impacts hit very close to home; I often find solace in the fact that the science being performed here that we support has a direct impact in the quality of life of our loved ones. I am blessed to have a talented crew of hard working employees, subject matter experts in their respective fields of trade and I have been afforded a level of reliability that most dream of. I am also extremely appreciative of the level of support provided by both my direct management at Able Services and especially that of our client. They provide us the necessary resources to execute our work properly, establish a safe team oriented working environment and commonly invest in our growth; both personally and professionally. This is a true partnership and a testament of what can be accomplished when approached as such. Our client promotes an atmosphere whereby we are given the flexibility to research, propose and implement improvements under our respective systems of ownership; that is very atypical of sites I’ve historically worked for. With all that being said, this has undoubtedly been the most rewarding job I’ve performed during my career in facilities management.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I thoroughly enjoy offshore fishing and gardening with my wife; both hobbies providing me a desperately needed outlet for stress reduction.