Whether working in the sports industry, or teaching sports management as a college professor, Shane Beardsley has lived and breathed sports for most of his 25-year career.
So, it was no surprise that when he took over as Vice President of Guest Experiences of Jacob K. Javits Convention Center less than a year ago, Beardsley brought along his approach to risk management that served him exceedingly well in sports.
We wanted to learn more about that approach, so we sought out Beardsley, a member of the Advisory Board for Sports Facilities and the Law, who holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sports Management from the State University of New York College at Cortland and a Master of Science Degree from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, where he currently serves as an Associate Professor.
Question: How did you get into the facilities business?
Answer: It’s kind of a funny story. I got my first internship from a connection through my mom. She worked with a group of paralegals in upstate New York, and one of the other paralegal’s sons was the strength and conditioning coach for the Red Sox. And that’s how I got my internship with the Red Sox. I also remember being the backstage manager for school plays, which I really enjoyed.
Q: You have been at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for nine months. Tell us about your role there as Vice President, Guest Experiences?
A: Ultimately, it’s about the guest experience of anybody who comes into the Javits Center and that includes exhibitors, patrons, event production teams, etc. I manage all of the third-party and outward-facing employees and staffs and crews that are here. It’s exhibitor solutions, whether it’s 10 or if it’s 10,000 exhibitors that come in for a show.
Q: How does your job intersect with risk management or legal?
A: Almost continuously. Regarding risk management, we have a very good and entrenched security team here. That responsibility cannot be underestimated, given that the facility is six blocks long and more than 3 million square feet. Those responsibilities include making sure we are ADA compliant as well as holding higher-end security conversations while working with outside security companies. So, the risk management or security conversation is always there, for all of us. As for the legal side, it’s about reviewing and maintaining contracts that the vendors that we have, be it Starbucks, FedEx, and everyone else. We are also constantly going through the actual contracts with our catering companies, ensuring that the submissions that are made and the billing cycles and everything else are all brought to fruition when the event closes. There’s also the legal component for RFPs. Because we’re a state entity, all of our contracts have to go through state comptroller’s office for approval. So, there’s a lot of RFPs and FOIA requests and all that fun stuff.
Q: Is there interaction with outside law firms?
A: Yes, but it is very specific to areas of the law. There might be one law firm for liquor-related issuers and another for tripping and falling hazards.
Q: Is there a philosophy you have adhered to that you can share with us?
A: Actually, there is, and I picked it up from Dr. Gil Fried’s book. I’m going paraphrase him. It’s about the ability to walk around the space and to be mindful of the journey of all of your patrons. It’s looking at it from driveway to driveway. As someone enters your venue, there are different access points, where you might have overall concerns about slipping and tripping. It’s very important what Dr. Fried said that a great facility manager will walk around the space and take a different path each and every day to try to find out the different problems. I do that every morning here.
Q: What are you most proud of in the nine months you’ve been there, which you’ve been able to get accomplished?
A: My proudest achievement has been the ability to get people to work together, to work closely with our sales and catering teams to reach the levels of event activity that this venue experienced prior to the pandemic. That’s a win-win for the Javits Center and a win-win for New Yorkers. I want everyone to realize that ultimately when somebody comes into our space, they’re coming to the Javits Center for a one-of-a-kind experience they won’t soon forget.