It should be no surprise thatKristal M. Alexandertakes tremendous pride in her accomplishments. She is the first female to provide leadership for facility management at Claflin University through its partnership with Sodexo, an industry leader in integrated facilities management and food service operations. Alexander oversees buildings and preventative maintenance, landscaping, janitorial services, utility and energy management, and construction.
Much of what she and her staff does is often taken for granted. The well-manicured lawns, blossoming flowers, and the overall tidiness of the campus – including the administrative and academic buildings and residence halls – are testaments to the dedication and diligence of her staff.
Alexander began working as the director of facilities management for Claflin University in December 2020. Before serving in this role, she was a North America facilities management systems trainer, where she facilitated training with healthcare, corporate services, schools, and universities affiliated with Sodexo. The position provided Alexander with extensive experience in training vice presidents, directors, managers, and frontline employees to implement work order systems.
At Claflin, Alexander’s goal is to reshape the perspectives of facility personnel and janitorial services. “Our staff members play an instrumental role in the University's daily operations. My goal is to show how their work contributes to the effectiveness and efficiency of all University operations,” Alexander said.
Alexander did not begin her professional career in facilities management. However, her consistent pursuit of a purposeful career led to an opportunity with Sodexo. After obtaining a degree in international business, she worked in patient healthcare managing outpatient labs but soon realized she wanted to serve in a different capacity. Making a career shift, she became a building manager for another healthcare company, where she was responsible for supporting physicians with their businesses and practices. While serving in this role, she became intrigued with the facilities team that managed a location.
Alexander gained invaluable knowledge through her interactions with the team, and her academic curiosity inspired her to pursue a career in facilities management. Alexander has worked in various sectors throughout her career, including healthcare and the public school system. She has managed work order systems for 500+ schools and 600+ stationary engineers and has overseen the maintenance of fire systems, operating rooms, helipads, and much more.
“Having interpersonal skills, great customer service, and the ability to foster and sustain relationships are just a few keys to a successful career in facilities management,” Alexander said. “Also, having an open mind and willingness to expand your knowledge base is vital to this role. Being a jack of all trades can be very beneficial.”
Since launching her career in facilities management, Alexander has noticed a lack of diversity in the industry. She is often the only woman in the room, and sometimes - the only African-American woman.
“I strive to work with a strong knowledge base, have integrity and ensure consistency in my work with hopes that it will break stereotypes,” Alexander said. “This is the second time in my career where I was the first woman in the facilities director position, and I wear the title with great honor. I want more women, specifically women of color, to come to the table, rise and excel in these environments.”
Note: Alexander was recently promoted to district manager for Sodexo’s University Segment. She will continue to supervise facilities management operations at Claflin.