Most people go to art museums to look at art. Rosalie Mignano worked at one to figure out how the building operates.
And it wasn’t just any art museum—it was New York’s Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA, one of the largest and most influential modern art institutions in the world. When Mignano took a job there as assistant director of building services, it was because she wanted to learn how the demands on such a structure and its contents – with thousands of visitors daily, and very specific temperature and humidity concerns – might round out her development in facilities management.
“It’s not like an office building,” says Mignano, who took that position in 1996 after four years in facilities management work with a global asset management firm. “But it was excellent experience. I learned to deal with big building systems, working in a non-profit environment, and with unionized labor.”
After two years, she was offered a position with a global investment-management and research firm, ultimately becoming its global vice president of real estate and facilities, where she worked for a dozen years before landing at IMG Worldwide Inc. It’s since been a steady, nine-year climb, and Mignano is now managing all leased office spaces for the various IMG companies.
IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events, and media, operating in more than 30 countries. The company manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is a leading independent producer and distributor of sports and entertainment media. IMG also specializes in sports training and league development, as well as marketing, media, and licensing for brands, sports organizations, and collegiate institutions. IMG is part of the Endeavor (formerly WME | IMG) network.
It’s an enterprise with an ebb and flow of space needs and was constructed via many acquisitions and strategic partnerships. Which is where Mignano’s best talents came into play. “My job in my first two years was to get rid of vacant space,” she says, detailing how different divisions operating within some cities added to the facilities inefficiencies and redundancies. As leases matured, they were able to manage away costs while simultaneously accommodating growth; she also wrested significant savings from the operations budget within three years, accomplished in part by outsourcing functions such as shipping, office supplies, copy machines, and support operations.
Her responsibilities include administration of the entire leasing process, site selection, budgeting, broker liaison work, and bidding out architectural services and construction, after which her team also supervises move-ins and space maintenance. In most markets, the leases are in class A buildings, with a few college and university spaces, as well as loft offices in some secondary markets.
Mignano is a rare professional in this field for having studied facilities management as an undergraduate at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York. She earned her degree while working as an admin for a facilities planning vice president who taught the discipline, and who encouraged her to consider it as a major. “I realized then that this is what I wanted to do,” she says. She also credits her father, a fix-it-himself kind of guy who taught her how to work with tools. “This is a very physical business, where you are crawling under desks,” she continues. “The normal person doesn’t see past walls. I think of what’s going on behind them.”
That dig-into-the-walls ethos also drove her to get a commercial brokers which helps her do her job and forces her to keep current on developments in the field, including the rules and regulations around lease laws in different jurisdictions.
That includes rental markets and rules overseas: IMG has over 175 leased properties in some 80 countries. Mignano explains that London, for example, not only has longer-term leases (typically on 10- to 15-year terms as opposed to the typical U.S. lease of 5 to 7 years), but also requires tenants to return space back to original conditions upon vacating. She’s since managed some of those London leases into shorter time frames and split locations for the company’s businesses. “It took five years to get that under control and to find space that matched our brand,” she says. “With leases usually being over 100 pages, it can be an excruciating process.”
Sustainability is also a factor, as the push to occupy greener spaces, with better energy efficiencies and lower greenhouse gas emissions, is strong overseas. “There’s lots of reporting and regulations around that,” adds Mignano.
Not that the principals or employees at IMG would mind being in environmentally progressive buildings. “It’s wonderful to walk into a LEED certified property,” she says, qualifying that as lessees, they have a lesser role in determining building characteristics than owners do. She finds historic properties the most difficult to occupy—and she’s had some experience with a few—but likes the challenge of retrofitting 20- and 30-year-old spaces. “I like bringing them into the 21st century. You can do a complete design and mechanical transformation.”
Of course she would see it that way. Mignano isn’t afraid of hypersensitive artwork or crawling under desks—as long as she can make things work.
Photos: Guerrero Media