How I Got Here: 1 Denison’s Daniel Venuto on visibility and responsiveness in facilities management

by Helena Morgan
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Some people think facilities and operations managers just make sure the lifts are running and the lights are on. In reality, an FM wears many hats. From space management to sustainability and security in the built environment, responsibilities can vary from FM to FM. It’s a career full of opportunity that takes people down many different paths.

Facility Management’s ‘How I Got Here’ series chats to impressive people who have worked in the field to map out some of the paths taken and demystify this essential profession.

Armed with unwavering discipline and determination, and generally spotted in the morning clasping a double espresso, 1 Denison’s senior precinct manager Daniel Venuto is a passionate self-proclaimed problem solver, who is inspired to manage commercial precincts that people are delighted to call their work, living or leisure space.

Foresight and proactivity combined with a love for people 

With an industry start in trade and business management, Venuto formerly worked at JLL and eventually became a senior facilities manager and then senior precinct manager at CBRE. Venuto’s commitment to facilities management (FM) has earned him numerous accolades, including the NSW State Achievement Award and Client Advantage Award in 2021, and the coveted Facility Management Association (FMA) Young Facilities Professional of the Year Award in 2022. 

Venuto’s days are full to the brim – overseeing operational efficiency and maintenance and  strategic development at 1 Denison, alongside leading capital expenditures (CAPEX) projects, remedying technical and maintenance issues and balancing sustainable practices with budget constraints, a feat that saw 1 Denison acquire WELL Platinum V2 certification. 

He underscores that a leadership position in facilities management is far from simple and predictable, and instead necessitates a tight grasp on strategic thinking, fused with a love for people and places. As with many facilities managers profiled in How I Got Here and Meet Your Local FM, Venuto confirms it is an equally strenuous and rewarding career, reliant on collaborative efforts, responsiveness and visibility – and patience when dealing with ad-hoc issues. 

Facility Management: Talk us through your career background and education, and what led you to be a senior precinct manager at 1 Denison Street. 

I started my career in trade and business management, which provided a solid foundation for my next step in the facilities management sector. 

JLL first recognised my potential in 2014, appointing me as building operations supervisor at 338 Pitt Street. This role challenged me to independently oversee a commercial asset in Sydney, which was a significant step in my FM career. I worked hard at the role and earned a promotion to building operations manager.

The next major career milestone came with CBRE, where I took on the role of building services manager in 2018 and led several key projects, including lift modernisation and common area refurbishments at 59 Goulburn Street in Sydney. This eventually led to an opportunity at 1 Denison, where I began as a facilities manager before being promoted to the role of senior facilities manager.

My perseverance over four years resulted in a promotion to senior precinct manager at 1 Denison at the end of last year. I oversee all aspects of facility management within the precinct and lead an onsite team of dedicated people. It has been quite a journey, but definitely rewarding.

What does an average day look like?

For me, an average day starts at around 5.30am. I pray, meditate, and have a cold shower to wake me up. I always like to cook a nutritious breakfast for my wife and I before heading to work – you could say I’m the chef of the house.

I try to get to 1 Denison at 7.30am, where I religiously drink a double espresso and outline my priorities for the day. Every night I create a ‘hit list’ which outlines my most important tasks for the following day, so I review my hit list in the morning to see what I need to tackle first.

As much as I try to plan my day, I find myself handling a lot of ad-hoc issues – FM in a nutshell. Generally, I deliver strategic oversight and direct management to ensure our commercial precinct runs smoothly. I oversee daily operations and manage plant issues, fit-outs, and significant CAPEX projects. I’m also responsible for managing critical maintenance and strategic planning for ongoing improvement.

I also manage two team members who have both been working with me for less than six months, so I try to be available as much as possible to support them. After work, I pick my wife up and we go to the gym together as part of our Monday to Friday routine. I often find myself working late in the evenings so I can get a head start the next day.

What are your responsibilities and who are your stakeholders?

My responsibilities involve overseeing operational efficiency and maintenance, alongside the strategic development of the commercial precinct at 1 Denison. 

This includes daily operations management, leading CAPEX projects, resolving complex technical and maintenance issues, and delivering a high standard of service to ensure tenant needs are met. My stakeholders include our client – Winten Property Group – as well as tenants, contractors, service providers, senior management and my direct team. 

What other departments do you work with?

I work closely with 1 Denison’s property management team led by my general manager Nathan Chehab, and our customer experience team. 

I also work alongside contractors and service providers in security, cleaning, and various consultancy areas. Working collaboratively with these teams means every aspect of 1 Denison is well-maintained, secure and operational. 

Are there any misconceptions about the facilities and operations management world you’d like to address? What do you think people picture when you say you’re the senior precinct manager at 1 Denison St?

A common misconception about facilities and operations management is that it’s purely about maintenance and repairs.

Ultimately, my goal is to shape a precinct that tenants enjoy and want to come and work at. My role at 1 Denison is complex and involves planning, stakeholder management and driving sustainability initiatives. It’s not just about technical issues – it’s about leading teams, driving innovation, and creating an environment where businesses can thrive.

What have been some career highlights?

I’ve achieved some great awards during my career in facilities management and several recent awards at CBRE, including the NSW State Achievement Award and Client Advantage Award for 2021. Outside of CBRE, our team also won the RICS Property and Facilities Management Team of the Year Awards in 2021. The biggest stand-out for me was being awarded the FMA Young Facilities Professional of the Year in 2022.

Another career highlight was my promotion to senior precinct manager at 1 Denison. It really is a monumental step in my career. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved at 1 Denison so far, especially in terms of boosting sustainability credentials to receive a WELL Platinum V2 certification and 6-Star NABERS Waste and Energy ratings. These have enhanced tenant wellbeing and significantly decreased energy usage.

What are the main obstacles and challenges to overcome in facilities management?

The facilities management sector is constantly changing with the times, and it’s important to keep pace with advancements in technology and sustainability. This involves integrating sustainable practices within budget constraints and complying with changing regulations.

Balancing tenant expectations for high-quality amenities against operational costs can be  challenging, in addition to managing emergency preparedness and remote monitoring.

Due to the frequently hectic nature of FM, it can be hard to dedicate undivided time and attention to a task or project. When you’re in a senior FM role, you become indispensable to the team, and your involvement is essential to other people’s progress. I juggle phone calls, emails and inquiries from my team throughout the day because of my position – often making it tricky to focus on what’s at hand.

I think these considerations reflect just how complex a career in FM can be, especially in a leadership role. It involves a fair amount of foresight, problem-solving, proactivity and strategic thinking.

What do you see as the biggest changes to facility management over the last five years?

Over the last five years, the sector has seen major advancements largely driven by the adoption of smart building technology, Internet of Things (IoT) automation and other tools. This has made operations and facility management far more seamless.

However, I think it’s increasingly important to have people on the ground who possess technical skills to complement smart building technology. The industry is seeing rising demand for FM staff who can deliver a high standard of service to tenants and manage stakeholders effectively – having personal skills goes a long way.

What has been your career journey with sustainable building operations, and what do you see as the biggest obstacles, challenges and rewards involved with pursuing ecologically responsible building practices? 

Sustainability has become a significant requirement for tenants, who are increasingly interested in buildings that align with ESG goals.

During my time at 1 Denison, we’ve achieved WELL Platinum V2 certification and a 6-Star NABERS Waste rating, achieving a significant reduction in energy consumption to also achieve a 6-Star NABERS Energy rating. The lessons learned along the way have been pivotal for my career in FM.”

It can be tricky to balance the need for new technologies and systems with the need for operational efficiency and budget considerations. However, the rewards – reduced overhead costs and enhanced tenant wellbeing, for example – highlight the necessity and impact of a considered ESG strategy.

How do you champion your award-winning customer service skills in your role as senior precinct manager?

For me, it’s crucial to personalise tenant services and continuously improve operations to meet their needs. I focus on active listening, empathetic engagement, and proactive problem-solving to ensure that tenants feel heard. 

I also empower my team to be visible, responsive and timely, which allows us to foster trust with tenants and deliver a positive day-to-day experience.

What do you love the most about your job?

As a natural problem-solver, I enjoy the blend of strategic and technical challenges that come with my role, and I love being able to impact the precinct’s work environment in a positive way. 

Leading a facilities management team is incredibly rewarding. I’m lucky to work with some great people, from a fantastic onsite team to our service partners and clients.

Photography supplied.

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