Empowering Facility Management Professionals with GULL Program, Celebrating 43 Graduates

July 08, 2024
A collage of photos of ESFM GULL graduates.

After much hard work and determination, 43 ESFM delegates graduated from the Global University for Lifelong Learning (GULL) this spring, a 48% participation increase over last year’s inaugural class.

GULL is a 16-week, self-guided program designed to prepare high-potential hourly associates for the next step in their careers. Approximately 25% of last year’s graduates have received promotions within the company, from corporate roles in safety to leadership opportunities at client sites.

To make the program more accessible, ESFM began offering GULL in Spanish this year. This one of several ways ESFM promotes inclusion through communication.

Managers nominate associates to participate as a Delegate and each Delegate has a dedicated Mentor to aid in the delegate’s learning and development. During their program coursework, Delegates work to develop their operational and interpersonal skills while learning business acumen, all leading up to completing a capstone project. This year’s projects ranged from ideas to improve inventory management and budgeting ideas to team bonding and associate development programs.

“GULL has been an excellent steppingstone for my career,” Mail Clerk/Project Coordinator Cierra Clark, of Illinois, said. “It has given me to tools to catapult my career [and] it has given me the confidence to back it up.”

Investing in associates’ futures gives them confidence in their potential today.

“GULL has meant the most to me because it is allowing me to pursue an actual career instead of a job and I love that,” Missouri-based Janitor Tim Vanfossen said.

Mail Clerk Eddie Murillo, of California, added that GULL allowed him to “grow as a person” while adding “extra motivation for me to see how far I can continue my career here at ESFM.”

Delegates are given time to complete their education during work hours and engage in weekly check-ins with their Mentor.

“I enjoyed the live sessions and the Mentor meetings,” Clark said. “Speaking with other members of our organization was insightful and having proper time to reflect and ask for career advice from my Mentor was also a huge benefit. It helped me grow because both situations have made me learn more and has given me time to reflect on how I want to proceed with my career.”

ESFM celebrated its graduates with a virtual ceremony on June 14, featuring celebratory videos, inspirational messages from senior leaders and success stories from their predecessors, including Safety Coordinator Brianna Heaphy, GULL Class of 2023.

Brianna Heaphy in her GULL graduation regalia.Heaphy began her ESFM career two years ago as a glass wash technician at a life sciences client site in Massachusetts. She developed an interest in safety during her time in the GULL program and was soon connected with the safety manager for the account. That relationship gave Heaphy mentorship and guidance as she looked to grow. Earlier this year, Heaphy was given the opportunity to move up into a full-time safety role within ESFM’s Center of Excellence.

“The connections I made during the process gave me the confidence and support to put me where I am today,” Heaphy told the graduates. “I know how hard you all worked to get here, and you should be proud of this accomplishment. I encourage you all to always try to connect with people; the connections you make are just as important for growth as well as what you learn.

ESFM plans to keep the momentum going with another GULL class this fall.

“It’s been inspiring to be a part of each of these GULL journeys as we work to expand the program and provide more inclusive and valuable opportunities for our associates who want to grow their ESFM careers,” Human Resources Manager Elise Weiss said. Weiss manages the GULL program for ESFM. “Each one of our graduates grew on this journey. Their capstone projects were so impressive; I can’t wait to see what they do next!”