As Associate Vice President of Facilities Management, Kevin Petersen oversees nearly 300 employees and an operating budget of more than $30 million, along with construction and planning projects totaling more than $500 million. Kevin meets the many demands of his job with a demeanor so calm it borders on monk-like. Read on to learn how he does it, including his secrets for unwinding, and a trick for staying on top of a busy email inbox.
On his overall work philosophy:
“I try to live by the words ‘integrity, humility, and grace.’ By integrity, I mean how honest and hardworking someone is at all times. I like to think of it this way– if you go to dry your hands and miss the trashcan when you throw away the paper towel, will you pick it up, even though no one is watching? The same thing goes for your daily work habits. As for humility, this means it’s not always about you. Put others first– if it’s not your ego being serviced, that’s okay. Grace is the ability to forgive. Get through your problems, kill the gossip, and stop worrying. I’ve never seen a situation where trying to get someone back is the right thing to do. If you can hold onto these three things, you’ll go far.”
On what motivates him to work hard, day in and day out:
“I think of Towson as a rocket ship and I want to be on it. There are so many things happening here and that’s where I want to be. I’ve been blessed to be put in charge of this group and I believe my job performance should reflect that. It’s really all about wanting to represent the Facilities team the best that I can.”
On the most challenging aspect of the job:
“I want to provide an environment that enables people to be successful and gives my staff what they need in order to do their jobs well. It’s tough when you consider there are eight different areas that I’m responsible for! I try to grab hold of everything and make sure nothing is dropped. I don’t want to let anything slip through the cracks, but the only way that can happen is if you empower people by giving them responsibilities and then offering them the tools to succeed.”
On staying on top of meetings & emails:
“I owe a lot to my administrative assistant, Bernadette Reed. She keeps track of my schedule and puts my day together ahead of time.
I also try to stay on top of email because in this business, communication is critical. I typically receive 50 to 100 emails a day. But I’ve found the best approach is to answer the critical ones right away. Then nothing gets lost, and I don’t have to worry about them later. Between my cell phone, iPad and computer I’m almost always connected so there’s no excuse for not getting it done.”
On his goals for the department:
“Continuous improvement in all areas of Facilities is always a priority with a focus on value-added activities. Recently, we created a small construction team that saves us over 50% in contractor costs. As this type of success continues, we encourage each other to look at other opportunities, increasing the department’s value to the university. This is one of the highlights of my job because I really get a kick out of saving money!”
On how he unwinds:
“I am diligent in my after work ritual. At the end of every day, I find time to unwind and decompress so I can come back fresh the next morning. I usually stop by Patapsco State Park to mountain bike and get a dose of fresh air.”
Written by Amy Juskus