Harvard Public Health NOW

February 6, 2009

Behind the Scenes at HSPH: Fernando Umana Keeps Maintenance of School Running Smoothly

Fernando Umana spends his days working behind the scenes to help HSPH run smoothly. Whether it’s contributing to the set-up of a flawless graduation ceremony or keeping the buildings looking pristine, Umana is one of the School’s unsung heroes.

A project manager with One Source, the company with which Operations contracts for custodial services, Umana has worked at HSPH for seven years. He manages 23 cleaning staff members, who are located at the School and at several satellite buildings. As a team, they work closely with the School’s movers, plumbers, and other maintenance workers.

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Fernando Umana

Umana’s day begins at 7:00 a.m., when he checks the cleaning staff’s efforts from the previous night — from classrooms to restrooms, and all the public areas in between. Then, HSPH Operations provides him with a list of the day’s events that require set-up.

“There are always small requests and big ones,” Umana said.

Commencement is a time when things can get hairy for Umana and his team. “It’s a big event. I worry about it beforehand. Is everything going to go right? Is everybody going to be happy?” he said, adding, “You have to make sure all the chairs in the graduation tent are evenly spaced, from row to row and from chair to chair. We use a little stick to measure from chair to chair to make sure they are the exact same distance apart.”

“Fernando is an excellent manager,” said Mary Jane Curran, director of administration and operations at HSPH. “He consistently shows outstanding professional knowledge in his field. He is always pleasant, calm, and polite and a great team player. We are very fortunate to have such a great manager of the housekeeping staff here at HSPH.”

The job’s variety is what keeps Umana happy to come to work in the morning. “Every day brings different things. It’s not like other jobs,” he said.

He also enjoys working with people from around the School. “Everybody’s friendly. Everybody’s happy,” he said. “When I come in, people say ‘good morning.’ I think that’s what I like about the job."

--Amy Roeder.  Photography by Suzanne Camarata.