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NEST's 2024 IFM Summit: An Experience to Remember


March 15, 2024     7 minute read

Under the glimmering lights of Las Vegas, facilities management and retail professionals from across North America came together for the 2nd annual NEST IFM Summit, held in early March 2024. This year's event doubled down on last year’s success and delivered a multi-faceted experience. The two-day event at the new Fontainebleau focused on the critical roles of sustainability and the skilled trades, plus a mix of engaging keynotes, networking, and charity.


The summit's opening was marked by the charismatic keynote speaker, Julia Landauer, a NASCAR driver known for her trailblazing spirit in a male-dominated sport. Landauer's narrative set the tone for the summit, reinforcing themes of innovation and breaking barriers in your occupation.

Following suit, Jamie McMillian, founder of KickAss Careers, delivered a potent morning keynote. Her message on career empowerment within the trades resonated with the attendees, driving home the importance of nurturing talent and fostering personal growth within the industry.

The sessions kicked off with a deep dive into sustainability, acknowledging its non-negotiable role in FM. As discussions wove through topics like carbon emissions and energy-efficient technologies, it became evident that FM professionals are on the frontlines of combating climate change. This segment highlighted the tightrope walk between maintaining environmental stewardship and ensuring operational efficiency.

As insights from the Sustainability Panel filtered through the event, a consensus emerged: embracing efficient technology and investment in sustainability isn't optional – it's imperative. The dialogue, enriched by experts from corporations like Dollar Tree, Staples Canada, and Carrier Corporation, mapped the industry's role in the larger tapestry of societal transformation. The conversation stretched into the fiscal realm, with tax breaks and incentives for sustainable practices being brought to the forefront, accentuating the financial benefits of early contractor engagement and strategic data interpretation.

The "Building Connections" segment struck a collaborative tone, emphasizing the surge in demand for skilled tradespeople. The discussion underscored the role of partnerships and community in nurturing a skilled workforce ready to take on the challenges of modern FM. The Skilled Trades Advisory Council (STAC), a game-changer aiming to bridge the trade skills industry, was also introduced at the summit.

The Skilled Trades Panel featured McMilliam and skilled trades advocate Andrew Brown, CEO of Toolfech, and Mary Gaffney, the President of the NAWIC Foundation in Philadelphia. lt unveiled a narrative around the pressing need for more electricians, plumbers, and a breadth of other trades. They tackled the demographic challenges head-on, advocating for vocational education in schools and a robust governmental framework to support apprenticeships. The narrative was brought to life by the personal story of Madison McBride, whose triumph over academic challenges exemplified the impact of mentorship and the potency of a career in trades. Madison was a 7-year camper in Gaffney’s annual construction camp for girls, Mentoring Young Women In Construction (MyWIC)

Fitting for an Olympic year, Abby Gustaitis, an Olympic Rugby Sevens star and Captain of Team USA, provided a keynote following lunch. Gustaitis stands as a paragon of resilience in the face of adversity. Her journey to the Olympics in Toyko was a testament to perseverance, navigating through intense physical demands and competitive challenges inherent in the world of professional sports. Gustaitis' story is not just about athletic prowess; it's a narrative of unwavering commitment and mental fortitude.

Led by NEST CEO Rob Almond, “Unlocking the Secrets of High-Stakes FM" session featured insights from the FM team at Fontainebleau, a beacon in the casino industry. Rob conducted an insightful session with Mike Heiman, Senior Vice President of Facilities for the summit’s host site, the Fontainebleau. Here, the nuances of FM within high-pressure environments like casinos were unpacked, illuminating the complex dance of providing seamless customer experiences while maintaining rigorous operational standards.

The summit wasn't all talk. In a heartwarming turn, NEST Nurtures spotlighted the Nevada Children's Cancer Foundation, with attendees participating in a charity activity. This gesture underlined the sector's commitment to social responsibility, extending beyond the confines of the buildings and systems they manage.

The event concluded with a visit to the Sphere, the $2.3 billion venue that opened in late 2023. Any facility manager could appreciate what goes into constructing and maintaining a venue of that size and scope. The group enjoyed “Postcard from Earth,” the Sphere’s immersive experience that will not be soon forgotten.

Throughout the two-day event, the summit showcased an industry at a crossroads yet poised for a revolution. From the collective spirit of problem-solving to the individual stories of resilience, the summit captured a sector ready to reinvent itself. As the curtains closed on the 2nd annual NEST IFM Summit, the participants left with more than just insights – they carried with them a renewed sense of purpose and a blueprint for a future where facilities management stands as a pillar of sustainability, innovation, and inclusive growth.


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