Mike McGonagle is the Plant Superintendent at a multi-tenant life science research facility located in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area. He is responsible for overseeing all building operations and maintenance being performed at the site. Read our Q&A to learn more about his important role supporting a state-of-the-art lab and research facility.
What is your role at the jobsite?
My role is to oversee all building operations and maintenance being performed at the facility. This includes the boiler plant, chiller plant, power distribution, emergency power generation, and fire and life safety systems. These systems support all lab operations and critical research being conducted in the building.
Another major responsibility is to be the onsite representative for Able Services and have constant communications with the client to ensure we are helping them achieve their business objectives. I take pride in exceeding the expectations of our client and showing them why Able is a leader in providing services for life science facilities.
What experiences prepared you for this role?
My background as a marine engineer helped me gain hands-on experience with a wide range of advance mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. I had to frequently learn these systems and master the different operational procedures for each new ship I worked on. When working out at sea there were no contractors to call during an emergency and all major repairs would be performed by the engineering department. That experience taught me the importance of having your entire staff properly crossed-trained in all aspects of operations.
My previous position before this role was as the Chief Engineer at a mission critical data center for one of the largest communications companies in the world. That role helped foster my skills in continuous operations and energy management. There is no room for error in the data center industry which demands continuous operations with no interruption to service. That experience transferred to my current role at this life science facility. We fully understand the importance of having redundancy built into your operations and properly testing and servicing all emergency backup systems. All of these skills are essential for successfully supporting these state-of-the-art lab and research facilities.
What does a normal work day look like to you?
When I arrive onsite, I check the building automation system for any standing alarms or abnormal conditions. I check-in with the boiler operator to confirm no major events happened during the night. Next, I meet with my Assistant Operations Manager to review any preventative maintenance or repairs that are scheduled. This includes reviewing our computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to assign newly created work orders or preventative maintenance items. I then conduct a morning meeting with the HVAC technicians to discuss any operational changes or equipment shutdowns needed to complete scheduled PMs or repairs.
The rest of my day is hard to define as 'normal.' Some days I will be with vendors getting pricing on upcoming projects or escorting outside contractors performing work onsite. Other days I may be in and out of meetings with building owners or Able management discussing upcoming capital projects or scheduling major shutdowns. There are hardly ever slow days in this industry and when I do have some down time it is usually spent catching up on paperwork!
Who do you enjoy working with the most at your job?
I manage a staff of 15 highly skilled engineers and trades people. They include an Assistant Operations Manager, Boiler Operators, HVAC Technicians, Electricians, Plumbers and General Mechanics. I also work closely with my Regional Engineering Manager, Steve Morin in evaluating the KPI’s for the site and implementing new operational best practices to improve the services we provide to our client.
I don’t think there is one particular person I enjoy working with the most because in operations you work with so many amazing people. I am lucky to have inherited such a talented team who have shared their knowledge with me on the complex systems they operate and maintain on a daily basis. That is a testament to Able's ability to attract high caliber employees and more impressively the ability to retain those employees. Several of my staff have been with Able for over twelve years. This sets Able apart from other service providers and better positions them to meet the demand for highly skilled individuals to operate life science and biomedical facilities.
What do you like about your job?
As mentioned before there are not many “normal” days and that’s exactly what I love about my job. I feel extremely fortunate to have such a rewarding role in this fast paced industry. I am motivated to come to work every day because I know my work supports research that is changing the world for the better!
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I grew up on the coast and I spend most weekends in the summer at the beach or going away to Nantucket with my wife Caitlan and our golden retriever Maddy!