News + Ideas

MGAC Impacts: Mindi Faris on FF&E Trends, Cross-Country Collaboration, and the Rise and Fall of Corner Offices


Mindi with her family in Hawaii.

The Impact Blog is a spotlight series that highlights and celebrates the diverse employees that make MGAC tick. Beyond their day-to-day schedules, we want to know how they have a greater impact on their colleagues, their company, and the communities in which they live and work. We want to know what makes them get out of bed in the morning, what led them to their current role, and what they hope their lasting impact will be.

Today, we get to know Mindi Faris, Associate Director at MGAC.

MGAC: Welcome to the Impact Blog, Mindi!

Mindi Faris (MF): Thank you!

MGAC: What is your role here at MGAC?

MF: I’m an Associate Director, promoted a few months ago! I’m part of our FF&E Procurement and Relocation Management team. I’m based out of our Los Angeles office, but most of our team is out of our DC office, and one of my goals is to grow our business here on the West Coast.

MGAC: That’s great! What led you to MGAC and your role today?

MF: I was with a furniture dealer for 18 years. Quite a long time, I know! I was looking for what was next in my career. I started to think about how my skills and knowledge could translate into doing something different—I didn’t want to just go to a company that did the same thing as where I’d been. Looking into interesting companies, I found MGAC on LinkedIn and was really impressed by the values and felt that they aligned with what I believe in: being transparent and proactive, building strong client relationships, that kind of thing. At the time, there weren’t any openings for me, but I kept an eye out, and one day, there was a position posted for the LA area.

MGAC: And safe to say it was a good fit after all!

MF: Yes! I hadn’t looked for a new job for a while. When I went through the interview process, and I began talking with a handful of people from the company, I was so happy to hear what they had to say. There’s a bit of risk involved in making a big leap of faith to a new company, but I had a really good feeling about the leap. Once I started, I could see it was exactly what people said it would be.

MGAC: How did you first make your way into the furniture space?

MF: At the end of my freshman year in college, I needed to pick a major—but had no idea of what I wanted to do. One day, I saw a student walking around with one of those big presentation boards. It had a bunch of pictures of furniture and fabric and paint, and I thought, “Oh, that looks interesting. I wonder what that’s all about?” That summer, I took an introduction to interior design class at the local community college, and that encouraged me to become an interior design major. I was always most interested in and most passionate about the fabric, furniture, and finishes, and through college, I worked at IKEA as a design consultant, helping people plan the selection and layout of furniture in their space. After graduation, I started working at the dealer!

MGAC: What does your day-to-day look like now?

MF: I’m working on a handful of really large projects throughout the country. Pretty much every day, I have at least one meeting with a client and the various FF&E vendors that we are managing. So, I’m coordinating information, making sure things are moving forward, listening to the needs of the client, and translating that for the vendors in a way that they can understand and execute on. A couple of these are corporate projects, with all kinds of innovative things going on—office spaces, outdoor spaces, cafés, collaborative workspaces. Then, I’m also working on a project in LA for a charter school that provides dorms and education for underprivileged youth. That’s an exciting project that I find very rewarding.

MGAC: Definitely! Sounds like you have some good variety across your project list.

MF: Definitely a good mix. I’m working on all sorts of different things at any given time, which is what I like to do. And then the world of FF&E is always changing, so that keeps things interesting, too! It used to be so basic. When I first started in the industry, it mostly boiled down to questions like how many workstations, how many offices, how many conference rooms, and do you maybe want a little lounge? And that was it. But over time, that list has really grown, and continues to evolve today. It’s exciting to be in an industry that’s always changing!

MGAC: That’s so true!

MF: A big part of our job is making sure that we’re staying on top of the latest trends and offerings so we can let clients know what’s out there and what they should be considering for their projects. That education piece is a big part of what we do. Our work can be quite expansive, and that scope is constantly growing. For complex projects, we are sourcing and handling highly specialized items. And sometimes, we take on things that might fall into another team’s purview.

MGAC: Can you give us a recent example of that?

MF: Recently, a client was interested in adding wireless charging all throughout their collaborative spaces. While you might think that would be a technology element, it can fall under FF&E and often can even be integrated within the furniture we’re helping manage. Oftentimes, we start out with a scope, and it grows over the lifespan of a project as the client reaches out more and more, knowing whatever the question is, we can answer it. Being our client’s person—the one they come to for everything—is what we want.

MGAC: That’s great to be able to take on so many things within your role.

MF: Absolutely. We have such a depth of knowledge on the FF&E team and beyond, which really helps with that. It’s impressive to me that so many people here have had amazing, specialized careers, and they come to MGAC and are able to use their experience and leadership skills to guide their projects confidently. It’s also great that we’re able to lean on others within the company who have so much diverse experience.

MGAC: Having worked in this space for two decades, you’ve had a front-row seat to how workplaces have evolved over time. What’s your take?

MF: The companies we work with are so thoughtful about the spaces they’re providing for their employees. They’re taking a holistic approach to their projects, giving lots of attention to how people are going to use the space. They are really focused on ensuring the space is collaborative, and one people want to be in. From my perspective, all of the creative designs, amenities, and overall attention to detail certainly keep our work interesting!

MGAC: Sounds like you really enjoy what you do! What does a favorite day on the job look like?

MF: I always love getting new opportunities for projects, so my favorite moments are when I’m talking to a colleague about a new opportunity to collaborate on. Looking forward to future work for our team is always exciting, and starting out on something new and really diving in is so much fun. You never know where a project will take you, and I love that!

MGAC: What have you found most rewarding about your job in this first year at MGAC?

MF: We’ve been leading our clients through a couple of RFPs for large projects, really being the point person managing the process, from creating the initial statement of work document all the way through to giving them our recommendation for award and then onboarding the awarded vendors. Going through that process, being so hands-on, and then seeing that preparation work begin to take shape is definitely rewarding. That said, I’m also looking forward to seeing my current projects fully complete!

MGAC: Do you have any nearing that finish line soon?

MF: The school in LA should be installed within the next few months, so that’ll be really exciting! I can’t wait to visit down the line when students and staff have been working in the space and are truly settled in, to see it all come to life and ensure everything is working as intended. And then we have some projects that are so early on that there’s still just dirt on the ground and imagining that we will be walking in that same spot inside a fully finished building a few years down the line is really rewarding, too!

MGAC: As someone who brings so much enthusiasm to your projects, what’s your secret for keeping your energy levels up?

MF: I try to stay balanced. I believe the only way to make sure that you can really maintain energy is by making sure that you’re not being drained by any one thing too much. Whether it’s balancing work, family, or friends, that’s something I try to be mindful of.

MGAC: Do you have a routine for starting the morning off on the right foot?

MF: Well, I probably shouldn’t do it this way, but I often start with checking my email as much of my team is on a different time zone, which means I tend to have emails waiting for me. So, that’s often the first thing—and then comes coffee!

MGAC: Makes sense! On the flip side, what’s your secret for winding down at the end of a busy day?

MF: Well, every day is very different! Some days, I am driving kids to soccer practice and then busy with dinner. On occasion, I’ll have work events in the evening. So, the wind-down routine is different depending on the day, but typically, my husband and I will watch a show together, share how our days went, and just chill out and try not to worry about what’s coming tomorrow.

MGAC: And how old are your kids?

MF: They both just had birthdays! My daughter turned 12, and my son turned 9. They are at busy ages with lots of activities, so trying to maintain their social lives as much as my own is a challenge.

MGAC: No kidding! Tell us a book that’s made an impact on your life.

MF: Years ago, I read Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P Frankel. I was in my 30s, and I thought it was a cute title and a great aspiration to maybe have one day. Now, I think the concept of “having a corner office” does not necessarily exist in many workspaces anymore. But it was an interesting read, and I always enjoy hearing different perspectives on advancing in your career.

MGAC: Alright, are you ready for some rapid-fire questions now?

MF: Sure!

MGAC: You’re starting the workday. What’s the first thing you do?

MF: Turn on the coffeemaker!

MGAC: And the last thing?

MF: Look at my calendar for the next day and make sure I’m ready for my meetings.

MGAC: What’s the most interesting thing on your desk right now?

MF: Does a Fall gnome count? My daughter put that on my desk.

MGAC: What can’t you get through the workday without?

MF: Coffee!

MGAC: What’s your go-to workday lunch?

MF: Leftovers usually.

MGAC: What’s the most-used app on your phone?

MF: Outlook.

MGAC: Describe your job in five words or less.

MF: I am a furniture expert.

MGAC: What’s your biggest work goal right now?

MF: Secure more opportunities on the West Coast. Always the goal.

MGAC: What’s an industry trend you love seeing right now?

MF: Collaborative workspaces and truly holistic approaches to projects.

MGAC: What do you predict will be a big trend 10 years from now?

MF: More technology—both in how we do our work and in the actual spaces we work in.

MGAC: What do you think will stay the same?

MF: The value of relationships.

MGAC: What would your dream project look like?

MF: A truly holistic space for a wellness brand. One with beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces that can support different activities and align with the brand mission in ways that make sense—not just ping pong tables to look fun, but things like meditation gardens that actually support employee wellbeing!

MGAC: What are you known for in the office?

MF: Like several of my LA colleagues who work on projects around the country, I think I am perhaps known as being a bit of an early bird.

MGAC: What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?

MF: I’ve had a project going on at my own house for quite some time now. My husband and I have completely renovated and added on to it twice, including a 2nd story!

MGAC: Where would we find you if you’re not at work?

MF: Ideally, on vacation, exploring new places. We’re located about an hour north of LA, so we are lucky in that we can go south to San Diego or Orange County, east to the mountains or the desert, and north to Santa Barbara or Central California!

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