Nicolas Del Valle is an Asset Manager with over 20 years of experience managing facilities including hotels, convention centers, cruise lines, as well as commercial and residential projects. Nicolas serves as the CEO of the Canadian division of Conkrite Capital.
Connect with Nicolas Del Valle on LinkedIn and visit ConkriteCapital.com to learn about their asset management solutions.
Transcript of the interview:
Alex Rascanu: Welcome to The Career Planning Show. Our guest today is Nicolas Del Valle. How are you, Nicolas?
Nicolas Del Valle: Thank you very much, Alex. I'm doing great.
Alex Rascanu: Nicholas, would you mind walking us through your career journey?
Nicolas Del Valle: Sure. I started in assets management when I was 17, working for Commodore Cruise Line. That was a great experience, which I acquired right after high school. And I spent a few years in the cruise line industry working for Celebrity Cruises, Crown Cruise Line, and some other ones. And in the cruise line industry, you learn many aspects of assets management because you're managing a comprehensive level. What that means is that it covers all the aspects of maintenance and management of the actual physical spaces. So that gave me an opportunity to actually learn and cross train in many different departments, which is almost impossible if you do it when you're working for a hotel. So in a cruise line, for instance, you are able to work in the food and beverage department, you are able to work in the hotel department, you are able to work in the engineering department because it's all in a small space. So that for me was a great starting point.
Moving on from that, I worked for a large, very large hospitality company focused on convention centers all over the United States. That was another great experience.
And, moving on from that, I decided that I wanted to stay in the facilities and assets management industry. I learned very early in my life that if you don't focus, you lose. So I decided that, once I acquire so much experience, it will be better for me if I stayed in the industry and capitalize on the knowledge and skills that I've acquired from so many of my mentors, and that's what I've done. And that's what has led me to where I am today.
Nicolas Del Valle: Asset management is a discipline that manages the physical spaces and physical machinery, the form part of a system. What we do is that we form programs that will keep or extend the life of these assets, for as long as possible, in order for us to withdraw as much profit as possible from them.
For instance, a boiler comes with a maintenance program and if the maintenance program is not executed properly, the asset will die. Then you will have to discard it and you will lose money. By having the proper maintenance program of that boiler, you extend its life cycle and then therefore extending profits and benefits for the owners.
Nicolas Del Valle: Well, you see in assets management, you need people like us at all stages of development. If you want to start real estate development, you can not start a project without having an asset management program in place. And for that you need people like us. At the building level, if you're going to construct a ship you'd need us even before you start the planning process because we understand things that the developers do not understand. And that is why this career is so important. It's nonstop. It is necessary. It is very needed.
Nicolas Del Valle: In assets management, everything comes down to experience. And what that means is that you need to get your hands dirty , to be able to learn what it is that you're doing. There's no school, there is no university that can teach you this thing. You have to learn it. You have to go in, roll up your sleeves, and work with the people that are actually dealing with things. I started at a very low level. I started [with] basic engineering jobs and then grew myself from there slowly. Then I started acquiring book knowledge, but it has to be accompanied with the hands-on experience -without that you cannot do it. There are so many certifications out there, and you can have a facility management certification. You can have an assets management certification. You can have a commercial building management certification. We also have managed condominiums in Toronto and you also need a license and a certification to manage condominiums. So it depends on which branch you want to take. But for whatever branch you take, most importantly you will need hands-on experience. You will need to learn what you're doing. You need to get in there. You need to get into farms. You need to get into buildings. You need to see how people are doing the job that they are doing. That is very, very important. You can not manage these people and let them know what to do if you don't know what they are doing.
Nicolas Del Valle: Well, something that we've experienced even during the COVID-19 situation is... our business actually has increased. And what that tells you is that assets management is a discipline that is here to stay. And whoever wants to come on board and say "I want to be an assets management," they just need to understand that they need to focus. They need to learn this because it is very wide [industry]. And it takes a long time to learn it. It doesn't matter where you get in, whether it's a building or a condominium, it doesn't matter. You need a long time, because there are so many components that you need to learn, so many variables that you will need to achieve success. You need to be there to stay. It is not an overnight situation. You need to decide that this is what you want to do and take the time to develop.
And you need to take your time and understand that it's going to take a good 5 to 10 years to actually be a master in assets management. And you need to read the books. A good resource is MIT OpenCourseWare. They have so many engineering open courses that you can take for free from the best [professors]. So you can go to MIT and you can educate yourself for free. That's great. We provide these tools to our staff and we say "go to MIT OpenCourseWare, learn. We don't want you to come with a certificate. This is the 21st century. We don't care about that anymore. We want you to learn so that when we put you on the spot, you will be able to know and say what has to be said.