… written by Teresa Cox, APCO Signs
Like so many facility professionals, Laura Hammond fell into the field. IFMA Fellow Kathy Roper, “a fabulous professor” was her inspiration at Georgia Tech. Laura earned her Master of Science Degree in Building Construction and Facility Management from the School of Building Construction. At that time, she was working as a Project Manager for a General Contractor. When Laura’s employer closed their doors after the 2008 recession, she made the leap to Facility Management, a field less susceptible to the ups and downs of the economic cycle.
Today, Laura is the Department Manager, Corporate Asset Management for Mercedes-Benz USA. After relocating their headquarters from New Jersey in 2015, they were in a temporary space near Perimeter Mall. Mercedes-Benz USA moved into their brand new Sandy Springs headquarters building in March of this year.
Laura has found that the field of Facility Management is never boring! There is lots of activity, on a wide variety of issues, coming fast and furious, every day. You will not find Laura Hammond sitting behind a desk all day. She travels to all 15 Mercedes-Benz USA facilities to gain exposure to what others do at the company. She strives to understand her internal customers and what is important to them, because if something is not working as it should it can impact everyone. “I love the service side of what I do and enjoy talking with people from all over the company.”
“In FM, if things are going well, you don’t hear much. But when there is a problem, you take center stage”, says Laura. She stresses the importance of being a strong advocate for your team, looking for opportunities to continuously demonstrate their contributions to the company.
Laura explored other careers before deciding on Facility Management. When she was at UGA, she thought she wanted to be a veterinarian. Laura worked at the vet school, and one of her responsibilities was cleaning out the bins that housed the animals. She opened a bin of kangaroo rats and discovered just how high they can jump. It was like “Mexican Jumping Beans”. She spent an hour on her hands and knees, getting all of those kangaroo rats back in their bin. Then, midway through Organic Chemistry, she took a break and switched her major to Business Management.
Laura was a DJ at UGA Radio Station WUOG 90.5 for over 4 years. She played guitar in several indie rock bands and although she gave it up, her husband still plays.
I asked Laura about her personal secrets to success. “Always keep learning and strive for continuous improvement. Seek out people you admire and spend time with them. You have to be really disciplined with your time. It is so easy to be a very busy person and not get a whole lot done. Exercise is critical to managing work stress, and you need to make going to the gym a priority. Taking a mental break is essential, as is building in time for strategic thinking and accomplishing tasks.”
In 2016, Tom Haslach of Trilogy FM reached out to Laura and invited her to the IFMA Board Retreat to give her a peek into what IFMA Atlanta could do for her and her company. She hesitated, as she has a demanding career and two young children. But, seeing the value made her want to commit to IFMA. Laura Hammond will chair IFMA Atlanta’s Accredited Degree Program Committee beginning in July. “I have benefited greatly from the Master’s Program at Georgia Tech and I want to give back and help others on the path to earning that degree.”