Global Head of Business Development
Operations, North America
As Mace’s Global Head of Business Development, Sonya Verny has a strong sense of what it truly means to deliver distinctive value. With a natural talent for relationship building, Sonya’s people skills extend beyond working relationships, to volunteering both for Mace and for local charities - with award-winning results.
- How did you get into what you do?
I moved to New York City 13 years ago after having worked as an accounting and finance recruiter for most of my life. I was hired to a boutique FM outsourcing firm after the CEO recognised my ability to build relationships and he took a chance on me.
I had various mentors within the industry, and they all recommended that I joined CoreNet, a corporate real estate organisation, and the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) so I could really understand the career, learn and meet people. I never intended to get into FM, but through those organisations I was able to progress my career to the point where I joined Mace in 2020 and I feel like I found my home.
- What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?
The culture – this is a company that practices what it preaches. From diversity, equality and inclusion, to sustainability, social value and volunteering, I’m very proud to be part of the organisation and to help bring a different voice and perspective. I sit on the diversity and inclusion global steering committee and represent the Women at Mace network as co-chair for the Americas.
- How do you redefine the boundaries of ambition?
What really differentiates Mace is that we don’t take a cookie cutter approach to our client delivery. We listen to clients, and then we develop an FM solution that is right for them. Whether they require innovation, resilience or transparency in their operations, every client is different, and we need to approach each one of them with a fresh point of view and deliver a high-quality service. That’s what we mean when we talk about delivering distinctive value.
- What has been your proudest achievement at Mace so far?
I’m still immensely proud of earning my MCR.w (Masters of Corporate Real Estate with Workplace designation) through CoreNet, which was the culmination of hard work and my love for the industry.
However, my proudest achievement at Mace has to be winning a financial services client, who was looking for a change in service delivery and was swayed by our approach to deliver the true value of facilities management through technology, innovation and informed insights. It was rewarding to hear how our blend of workplace experience and operational efficiency offered the client the fresh outlook on service delivery they were looking for – FM 3.0 if you will.
- What motivates you everyday?
Being a trusted advisor and a professional relationship builder, understanding what companies need and helping them to redefine their FM ambitions. Seeing Operate win work and delivering on what was promised and exceeding the expectations of our clients. Happy clients make me happy.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
Be present in the market, get involved with the industry organisations, build relationships, understand the trends. You also need to maintain those relationships. In business development you can’t just leave contacts hanging. People remember how you act when you lose an opportunity so it’s crucial to continue building the relationship. Good people know good people – so having a large network can help to create more opportunities, as they will remember you if a prospect ever comes up.
- What advice would you give to women trying to get into the industry?
Women are making leaps and strides in both our industry and other industries, and because of this we now have a seat at the table. It doesn't matter what title or rank you are in a company, you can be just as important through how you contribute.
- What are you passionate about outside of work?
Philanthropy. When I came to New York I felt blessed to be given an opportunity that not many people have. I wanted to give back, and so in my free time I support St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, fundraising to support the work the hospital does and the families they help. I’m honoured to have been recognised for my social value work, with the Saint Francis Woman of Valour Award and then in 2021 I received the IFMA Lifetime Achievement Award, which was a wonderful feeling.
“Every client is different, and we need to approach each one of them with a fresh point of view and deliver a high-quality service – that’s what we mean when we talk about delivering distinctive value.”