Profile of Leni Rivera
Reforming Workplace Experience and Redefining Facility Management

Leni Rivera

Leni Rivera
WorkplaceXperience Consulting

Most of us are happy to get 3-5 things crossed off the list each day. Leni Rivera, from Workplace Xperience Consulting, is focusing 100% of her time on disrupting the expected norms of the facility management industry by writing books, doing podcasts and media interviews, and conducting online training and consulting.

While her ambitions are serious and have widespread implications, Leni has a wonderful curiosity and fascination and sensitivity about the workplace and our interactions in that space.

Leni is on a personal mission to achieve three things:

  • To establish the value of the workplace experience in all organizations
  • To unite the workplace industry so that all workplace functions – facility management, corporate real estate, workplace technology, interior design, project management, safety, and security, etc. -- work together in their own independent corporate function
  • To empower workplace professionals to become the leaders of that workplace function.

“That last one is my most important mission,” she explained. “But I’ve got to do the first two first. Everything I do is towards that mission.”

How an NYU trained professional actor who did film, theatre, and TV for a decade evolved into a workplace experience specialist is a global odyssey which wouldn’t have been possible without being immersed in environments ranging from interior design in Abu Dhabi to managing a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in the Philippines to launching a consulting practice in the technology hot bed of the Bay Area.

Leni happily explained her point of view.

“I specialize in creating physical environments that allow both people and businesses to thrive,” she said. “It's what I love to do. It's why my acting career came in handy because acting helps you understand human behavior. I just understand human behavior and create environments that adapt to that.”

Leni believes that facility managers are the biggest underdogs in the whole workplace world. It’s because the signal that they’re doing an amazing job is when nothing goes wrong and there’s quiet.

“They’re in the background running around fixing things,” she said.

But organizations are evolving and there’s more of an emphasis on fostering a corporate culture that embraces the hybrid work environment and things like sustainability. The result is that expectations from facilities managers have grown because they’re excellent at making things work and maintaining them, so they do well forever.

“Companies do not understand workplace functions. They just figure, oh, you're in charge of facilities, you do this, you do this. So there now the expectation has become you run food and beverage, if we have a café, you operate it, even though to operate food and beverage and cafes and run events and hold events, it's a very different set of competencies and a different personality set even that is required to do front of the house activities,” said Leni.

“They’re also being thrown into sustainability, diversity, and equity programs. Companies don’t understand the value of each of the different workplace functions. They think they can all be grouped into one job function. But having said that, I love facility managers, because they’re doing it anyway,” she added.

When Leni was four years old, she was in a play, The Owl & The Pussycat. She played the role of the boat. As she was listening to the other characters, Leni was thinking, “That’s not how you say the lines. It should be this this way. Say it this way.”

So, since childhood the idea of improving things has come through observing and improvising for Leni. And the more you improvise, the more you improve.

Leni grew up in the Philippines. Her father is Filipino, and her mother is American, from New York. She’s relocated eight times over the years and has been based in the Bay Area for about five years.

When she’s not out doing public speaking, training, or consulting, she’s with her extended family.

“I have two boys that have whiskers and pointy ears and long tails,” she laughed.

Leni is also active in a group called InterNations, a network of global expats which she joined when she was living in Dubai. Members help each other out with business ideas, best practices, and like-minded conversations, because it can feel isolated living and working in another country.

She draws inspiration from people such as writer Lisa Whited, author of “Work Better, Save the Planet.” Lisa is an author, speaker, and workplace strategist, who’s focusing her life on sustainability.

Lisa told her, “Leni, you're a courageous leader. The job of courageous leaders is not to convince because you can't convince people of something new, especially leaders or whatever. But what you can do is empower those who already believe. That's why I speak at IFMA events, I speak to facility managers directly, safety and security professionals, and interior designers.”

Leni’s book is titled, “Workplace Experience: Create a place where people thrive, business grows, and a unique culture lives,” which offers encouragement to anyone seeking careers in the rich field of facility management or workplace experience.

There’s one more big goal Leni wants to fulfill.

“The reason why my mission is so hard is because it hasn’t been done. I want to establish the role of a Chief Workplace Officer in organizations. The fact is that right now this role, and an independent corporate workplace function, doesn't exist yet in America. But what I can tell you is every time I talk about it, it resonates with so many people. It's such a hard rock to push uphill. Who's going to do it, and who's going to empower facility professionals to become the first Chief Workplace Officers? I'm waving that flag. I'll do it.”


Want to learn about more inspiring Female Leaders in Facilities Management? We invite you to Follow us on Linkedin and follow our Women in Facilities Series.

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