A Profile of Shalita Myrick
Creative Solutions for Revolutionizing Facilities
Principal Facilities Project Manager
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Shalita Myrick, a principal facilities project manager at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, stumbled into facilities management. After graduating from Spelman College as a political science major, she intended to pursue a career in law. Still, she discovered healthcare facilities management through a series of connections, conversations, and challenges throughout her career.
What she most appreciates about working in healthcare facilities management is the ability to create better experiences for people during some of the most challenging days of their lives. Though the work done by her team is mainly unseen by patients, visitors, and others, she understands the proper focus is on how the hospital space will help people heal. Details like dirty walls, floors, quality lighting, and temperature control impact the five senses, contributing to health and wellness.
She derives great satisfaction and fulfillment from helping build, fix, and maintain the built environment.
Through an encounter with Jamila Veasley from Kaiser Permanente, whom Shalita met through the Los Angeles African American Women's Public Policy Institute, Shalita realized that her purpose is helping people.
Shalita is from a big family, including three older brothers – so she knows how to be heard and seen – two qualities that have helped her navigate her career, which included a stint in technology sales. She also uses these qualities to communicate the organization's goals.
"We've got to all be aligned with our purpose – how this space is supposed to help hospital visitors and patients feel better," she said.
To provide this healing space, she believes addressing facility equipment problems before equipment fails is critical.
"Facilities is all about predicting and preventing things from going "sideways," but it's also managing when it does," she said.
As a principal facility manager at MD Anderson, Shalita and her team found a creative solution to a combination of equipment issues that ended in a failed radiator and generator. As a result of excellent communication, Shalita and her team found a small, locally-based radiator and A/C company that identified that just the core in the radiator needed replacement to be operable.
What would have been a 22-week turnaround for a new radiator was completed in 3 weeks for a fraction of the cost. This win was only possible because they felt they had to communicate the "WHY" of their needs to find the best possible solution.
Shalita is sure organizations must be better at demanding tools and technologies to improve productivity and predictive maintenance. At the same time, she's concerned about overworking people and using labor hours more effectively. Shalita has a significant focus on retaining and encouraging her team by creating an environment where it's safe to express new ideas and providing them with resources to be successful.
"I talk to my team like they're my family because you've got to understand that people bring their whole selves to work," she said.
She holds the facilities industry responsible for creative recruiting, marketing, and branding to cast a wider net of talent to attract people who may have no background in facilities but can see how buildings and infrastructure play an essential role in our everyday lives.
Climate change continues to be a worldwide discussion - and Shalita believes Facilities Management "is a great career if you care about the environment because you can do something tangible every day to reduce the built environment's negative impact," She said. Shalita continues to learn and share best practices by chairing IFMA's Academic Facilities Council -Young Professionals.
Shalita believes that women change the world once they find their purpose, platform, and positions of power and authority.
"For women in facilities -- be vocal, be seen, and be loud about your accomplishments," she said. Shalita is the first graduate of UT San Antonio's Masters in Facility Management.
Shalita furthered her education in Facilities Management because she sees a lot to look forward to in revolutionizing facilities and taking opportunities to innovate operations.
"We are just at the precipice of capitalizing on and leveraging technology to reach a more predictive facilities management state. There are great organizations out there that are helping transform how we operate and maintain our buildings by using data-driven workflow automation to prioritize and dispatch work – but most importantly, predict failures in our Building Systems before they occur. Not only will it be a necessity based on labor shortage, but it will also help us make more informed and sustainable decisions for the present and future environment," she said.