Caswell Holloway — Deputy Mayor of ‘What Exactly Is it That You Do?’
Helen Serebin, MBA Candidate 2012 Operations & Sustainability
I knew I liked Cas Holloway from the very beginning, when he said to the Crain’s Business Breakfast Forum crowd on Monday 3/20 that he’s used to people asking him “so what exactly is it that you do?” As Cas pointed out, we operations folks encounter this view – or non-view – of operations management all the time. Said another way, people have no idea what it is we OM people do and how crucial our role is.
The Deputy Commissioner of Operations is, arguably, one of the most strategically important positions in the City. Cas oversees some of largest and most critical agencies – Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) (the agency with the biggest budget in the City), Department of Sanitation (DSNY), and Department of Citywide Administrative Service s (DCAS), and has joint responsibilities with the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Sustainability.
Cas’s tri-partite guiding focus, phrased as questions below, indicates why operations is so important to NYC:
1) Are we making long-term investments for the City’s future?
2) Is the City ensuring public safety? This includes the typical NYPD-variety of safety, but more importantly, protecting our water supply, infrastructure, air quality.
3) Is the City poised to become more sustainable and livable and thereby create the necessary conditions for economic growth in the long-term?
[If you don’t think of the above as critical issues, think of the challenges that China and Brazil are facing and the impact on GDP if they don’t address these concerns.]
Hardly minor issues.
And what is Cas doing to ensure that the City is on track for a sustainable future? He is linking operational efficiencies and Total Quality Management (TQM) to sustainability. His office is focusing on getting talented people to lead projects, emphasizing quality in the agency’s work, issuing green energy RFPs, looking at the waste the city generates, and changing the specifications of capital projects to include green infrastructure. These initiatives will yield innovative solutions, bring cost savings, reduce resource use, increase quality, reduce waste, and attract talent.
There is strategic power in Cas’s understanding that sustainability is integrally linked operations management. It means that operational improvements will bring us to a sustainable future.
So the next time you meet Cas or one of us operations wonks, don’t ask “what exactly is it do you do?’ Ask us what we are working on that is going to make the future more sustainable – and that means livable.