“You can’t say no to anything until it’s been offered to you. At that point, you should really think about it—really consider saying yes. Remain open: that’s the best advice I can offer.”
Having grown up in the UK, Dave Wildman says that, frankly, he didn’t ever see himself working outside of London let alone New York City. The global facilities and infrastructure manager for Bloomberg admits he wasn’t sure he’d leave his hometown. For nearly three years in the beginning of his career, Wildman worked as a washing machine mechanic, the repair person who would show up when someone tried to fit an extra week’s worth of laundry in one load. It was a job that Wildman learned to like, and he could still be there today had the young repairman not been open to opportunities.
Wildman went on to join British Telecom to become a network engineer before eventually moving to Bloomberg. He organically became a facilities engineer during the company’s European infancy and now says that he’s not sure he would have gotten the job if the organization didn’t position itself as an employer willing to take on motivated individuals looking for a challenge in stretch roles.
Now an expat living in Lower Manhattan with his family, Wildman has much to reflect on with pride, and just as much to look forward to as a professional with a dedicated record of recreating himself several times over.
Wildman’s moves to network engineering and, later, facilities management are demonstrative of the flexibility the global head of infrastructure possesses. He first moved into the telecommunications industry, then later served as a network engineer for Dow Jones in the financial industry. A taste for something a bit more cutting edge would ultimately bring Wildman to Bloomberg, a company that was poised as a disruptor well before the term came into common usage.
“I just kept saying yes to opportunities,” Wildman offers. “I always figured the worst thing that could happen is that I wouldn’t like it and I’d find something else to do, but at least I’d have gained a valuable new skill.” The facilities manager says in many ways his career has mirrored the game Snakes and Ladders, fortunately with many more ladders than snakes along the way.
Wildman credits his flexible approach as a large asset during a time in which his new roles called for significant travel, covering areas that ranged from Cape Town to Reykjavík. The marketplace was evolving which meant that his job was, too. “There was a request for us to relocate something like 40 percent of our networking hubs at the time,” Wildman explains. “My job shifted almost immediately from installing network equipment in those locations to having to find relocation sites to build new ones.”
The change wasn’t lost on Wildman. “I had effectively become an MEP project manager and I assure you, as a network engineer—I was making it up as I went along.” He assumed that when the project was over, he’d return to network engineering. However, Wildman soon realized that despite a lack of proper formal MEP training, he really had morphed into a facilities engineer. “I really learned to love the scope of the job and the types of people that you interacted with; the larger infrastructure implications were really appealing.”
The Expat Experience
In 2008, Wildman was given the opportunity to move himself and his family to Manhattan, New York, to oversee a large data center expansion project in the heart of the city. It would mean an end to the seemingly endless international travel, but Wildman and his wife agreed to stay for at least two years and see how they took to New York and how New York took to them.
Within just a couple years, Wildman was promoted to head of the Americas infrastructure team and, eventually, head of the global facilities and infrastructure team.
Since coming to the States, Wildman took it upon himself to invest in more formal education, earning his MBA from Cornell in 2017. It wasn’t easy to complete a high-level degree while attending to both his job and his family, but Wildman says it gave him some peace of mind having proved to himself that he could accomplish it. “It was my I-can-do-anything moment,” he recalls.
Despite the initial wariness of how the transition to the US would affect him and his family, Wildman shares that his son has taken to New York with such gusto that it’s sometimes a challenge to hear the UK in his voice. “My son is a New Yorker now,” Wildman laughs. His son seems as intent on taking on the unknown as his father, but with Wildman’s rigorous portfolio and passport full of stamps, that kind of relish for opportunities is bound to run in the family.
Everyone Deserves an Opportunity
Dave Wildman’s penchant for self-reinvention is matched by a willingness to help those around him reach their own full potential. Wildman serves on the board of Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF), a non-profit that provides opportunities for high-potential and underserved students in New York City. He also supports the Fortune Society which helps recently incarcerated individuals to get reintroduced into the workplace through mentorship and training. “One common piece of advice I give to people is to think beyond the geographical boundaries we often set for ourselves,” the British expat says. “Be open to any opportunity.”