Derek Bacigal, CHFE is Director of Engineering at the Hale Koa Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii where he strives to deliver exceptional facility management services to both his internal and external customers. Mike Petrusky asks Derek to share about his passion for the FM profession, his involvement with IFMA, and his focus on core competencies around people, place and process while prioritizing sustainability in operations. Mike has followed Derek’s career as an emerging FM leader for the past several years as he has been recognized time and again for his achievements in the profession. You will be energized in your role as a workplace leader and optimistic about the future of the built environment when you hear Derek’s FM story which will certainly inspire you to be a workplace innovator!

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Read the full transcript:

Mike P. (00:02):

Hi everyone. Mike P. here, and I have two big announcements for you. First, I am thrilled to tell you that we have just launched a new website to serve as the home of this podcast. You can check it out now at There, you will find not only the latest episode of the show, but a link to our complete searchable archive of interviews. Plus, the new site has available for free download, research reports, and white papers about the latest industry trends and available technologies. Also, I’m excited to announce that registration is open for the annual iOffice User Conference. Our Summit 2020 will take place April 14th to 16th, and I really hope you will plan to join me there. We will bring the future to life with amazing speakers, educational content, and you’ll have the chance to interact with our community forward thinking workplace leaders. So join us in Vegas, baby, Vegas, where you will be inspired to create connected workplace experiences for your organization.

Derek (01:05):

Being an influential leader, you got to have a positive attitude, and you got to be a proponent of change, because you’re in an evolving market. You’re in an evolving workplace. And if you’re not evolving, you’re falling behind, and falling behind is going to be failure eventually.

Mike P. (01:21):

This is the Workplace Innovator Podcast, where we talk with corporate real estate, and facility management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by iOffice, the leading employee experience focused IWMS software, that delivers real time data and mobile tools to help you intelligently manage your digital workplace. Hey everybody, and welcome to episode 94 of the Workplace Innovator Podcast. My name is Mike, and wow. Did I just say episode 94? We are in to some uncharted territory folks, and the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear that number, of course, is a Star Wars reference.

            Let me just get this out of the way early, I am talking original Star Wars, 1977. Luke and Obi-Wan in the cantina at Mos Eisley spaceport, looking for a pilot to take them to the Alderaan system. They find Chewie, and he introduces them to Hans Solo, who agrees to fly them to Princess Leia’s home planet on the Millennium Falcon. And where is it parked, you ask? That’s right, Docking Bay 94. Now, for some of you, that was a fun little trip down memory lane. But for most of you, I realized that was probably another, “Oh my, who is this Star Wars geek?”, moment. That occasionally happened on this podcast, well I’m okay with that.

            Because either way, I am glad you tuned in to this week’s show, because it’s the middle of winter here in the US. And I know many of us could use some thoughts of warm weather, along a little workplace inspiration. So this week, I have enlisted the help of an amazing young FM professional. All the way from IFMA’s Hawaii Chapter, my guest today is Derek Bacigal. Now, I have followed Derek’s career for a number of years now, as he has been recognized time and again for his leadership, and his achievement in the profession. I just know you will be encouraged by his FM story, and warmed by his tropical location, so let’s get to it.

            On the workplace innovator hotline, joining us all the way from Honolulu, Hawaii. I am pleased to welcome Derek Bacigal to the show. Hey, Derek.

Derek (03:42):

Hey Mike, how’s it going?

Mike P. (03:44):

Or should I say, aloha.

Derek (03:44):


Mike P. (03:47):

Aloha. I got to get that right. The spirit of the islands joining us, and excited to have you on the show.

Derek (03:55):

I’m excited to be on the show, Mike. I’m glad that we can make some time to get together today.

Mike P. (03:59):

Awesome. You are one of the coolest young professionals I know. In fact, you’ve been recognized at IFMA as the Emerging Professional of the Year, right?

Derek (04:11):

Correct, in 2018. Yes, sir.

Mike P. (04:13):


Derek (04:15):

Thank you very much.

Mike P. (04:16):

I saw you get your award at IFMA’s World Workplace. Graham Tier presented to you on stage, Graham’s been a good friend of the show. Previous chair of the IFMA Board of Directors, great guy overall. What did it take to earn that award of recognition?

Derek (04:33):

That was a great honor that I received from my IFMA Hawaii Chapter nominating me for that. Over the past year, I’ve definitely developed myself professionally, but we’ve also been developing the University of Hawaii’s Facility Management Program out here in Hawaii, at the West O’ahu campus.

Mike P. (04:49):

Wow. So did you have formal FM training? Did you make this a career of choice deliberately, or did you fall into it?

Derek (04:56):

I did make this a career choice in between my associate’s degree, and my bachelor’s degree in facility management from Ferris State University.

Mike P. (05:04):

Ah, Ferris State. There’s an active group of folks.

Derek (05:08):

We are the Bulldogs.

Mike P. (05:09):

That’s awesome, and they’re big supporters of the podcast. Always appreciate seeing them on social media, and I see them at the IFMA events as well. So I want to get into all of that, but before we get too far, tell us some more about who you are and the work you do there in Hawaii.

Derek (05:25):

My current role is I’m the director of engineering for the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki. The Hale Koa is a hotel that is designed to serve those who serve at an affordable rate, so we serve our armed forces service members. We are considered an armed forces recreation center. We are one of four in the world, and we provide rest and relaxation services in a resort facility for our service members when they have time off, or they’re retired.

Mike P. (05:53):

You have an experience in the world of hospitality facilities, which is something we’ve not discussed too much on the show, so I want to hear more about that. But before we get too far Derek, I always like to get to know a little more of the personal side of my guests. And my favorite question of course is about music, what are you listening to?

Derek (06:10):

I listen to lots of different music, not so much at work. In my leadership role, I tend to be in meetings, and out in the field a lot more than, say sitting at the desk. But when budget season comes around, I do enjoy listening to some tropical house music, or some island reggae.

Mike P. (06:28):

Yeah, tropical house. I didn’t know that was a thing. I know house music. I certainly know island reggae music. But blending of the two, it had to happen, right?

Derek (06:37):

Yep, I generally just find a playlist on YouTube, and let them roll as I pound my work out.

Mike P. (06:44):

Awesome, how about some classic reggae, like Bob Marley?

Derek (06:47):

I can do a little bit of the classic reggae. When I’m looking at classic music, I tend to lean towards a little more classic rock, probably.

Mike P. (06:55):

Oh yeah, me too. What do you like?

Derek (06:57):

Led Zeppelin, probably.

Mike P. (07:04):

(singing) Jump in any time, Derek.

Derek (07:05):


Mike P. (07:05):

(singing). All right, that’s the best I could do.

Derek (07:16):

Better than me, Mike.

Mike P. (07:19):

Well, how about an inspirational quote? We want to kick off the year, and inspire our audience. Do you have a favorite motivational quote you could share?

Derek (07:28):

One quote I’ve always lived by, is just take chances to make advances, because if you don’t try, you’ll never get there.

Mike P. (07:35):


Derek (07:36):

And then-

Mike P. (07:36):

I like that.

Derek (07:37):

Since I moved to Hawaii, I really embraced the Hawaii state motto, which is, the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.

Mike P. (07:46):

Another good one. All right, what does that mean to you?

Derek (07:48):

To me, that means you are a steward of the [aina 00:07:52], and the aina is the land in which you live in out here in the islands. And you’ve seen Hawaii has been here for thousands of years without the support of any other nation, or any other people, but they’ve managed to sustainably preserve their land in a way that perpetuates it into the future without distraction. Being out here in the most remote place in the world, you have limited resources, and limited availability of getting either products, or materials, or whatever you really need immediately like you do on the mainland. It’s kind of a disposable service that you don’t really think of anymore in time. But out here, Amazon Prime is not two days, Amazon Prime is a week.

Mike P. (08:34):

Gotcha, gotcha. How about a business book or leader that’s influenced you?

Derek (08:40):

Business book that I recently read, was the Mastery Bible to Emotional Intelligence, by Brandon Cooper, which was a pretty awesome book on human behavior and emotional intelligence. It goes into detail about self discipline, cognitive behavioral therapy, analyzing people. Persuasion too, a little bit. Because that’s, people is one of the core competencies of our FM, of the people, place, and process. And to enable change within an organization when you’re physically changing assets, or products and services within your built environment, you must be able to influence that behavior to effectively meet your objectives.

Mike P. (09:22):

Absolutely, and that’s a good segue Derek into this broader conversation around FM, and the future of the profession. You’re an impressive guy. I’ve seen you not only receive that Emerging Professional Award, but I’ve seen you on magazine covers. And I know you received some recent awards, can you tell me about some of those recognitions?

Derek (09:42):

Yeah, last January I was nominated and selected as the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Associations Manager of the Year, for the entire state of Hawaii.

Mike P. (09:51):


Derek (09:51):

Which is pretty rare for an engineer. We are the back of the house, so a lot of the guests don’t really think about what it takes to get the job done for our services that we provide out here on the beach. But that was a great accomplishment, I felt hanaied from our hospitality industry out here, which means, in Hawaiian it means adopted.

Mike P. (10:16):


Derek (10:17):

And then most recently, I was selected as Business Leader of the Year for Pacific Business News, which is another large media outlet where I was a finalist with some other very prominent leaders in our community out here, overall.

Mike P. (10:33):

Congratulations, that’s really great.

Derek (10:35):

Thank you, sir.

Mike P. (10:36):

What magazine did I see you on?

Derek (10:38):

That was the Hotel & Lodging magazine.

Mike P. (10:41):

Very cool. That’s awesome. So Derek, what part of your job do you enjoy the most?

Derek (10:47):

I enjoy just the people, place, and process. I mean, I’m a leader at heart, and that’s probably why I’m in the role that I am now, where I lead a large organization of people. I sit at the executive table with a handful of individuals where we lead a workforce of over 800 people. Our facility’s occupied 99.8% annually, so we are always going 24/7, 365. We have 818 guestrooms on 72 acres, which occupies about 18% of Waikiki, with 8 food and beverage outlets. We have a variety of recreational activities in the ocean. And within the hotel, we have comedy shows. We have live bands every night. We have meeting spaces and banquet facilities as well, to accommodate over 360 weddings a year.

Mike P. (11:38):

Really cool, I’m looking forward to that invitation to visit you and maybe do a site tour. I think we should have recorded this interview in person, Derek.

Derek (11:46):

You’re welcome whenever, Mike. I’ll be here.

Mike P. (11:48):

I would love to get to Hawaii someday. Never have been, but a big anniversary coming with my wife later this year, and Hawaii is certainly one of the potential destinations we’re thinking about. So what are your thoughts, I’ve got to ask you, on the gang from Hawaii Five-0, is Steve McGarrett a local hero, or does Danno irritate you?

Derek (12:11):

They’re very well loved here out on the islands. We have lots of movies that get filmed out here all the time. I think Jumanji was probably one of the most recent ones.

Mike P. (12:21):

Oh, nice. Yeah.

Derek (12:22):

Obviously Jurassic Park is well known for being filmed out here.

Mike P. (12:25):

Very cool. So Derek, I’ve got to ask you about this unique world of hospitality in which you operate, and we keep seeing how the hospitality industry is influencing the corporate real estate world. And certainly the requirements of meeting expectations of the occupants or facilities, in even an office environment is much more like it is in your world. So any advice you could share as far as that blending of hospitality and the facility management role?

Derek (12:54):

As I lead my team every day, I lead them to treat our internal customers just as good as our external customers, and vice versa. So whether it’s the front of house or the back of house, every person in this building requires the same level of service, which is a high level of service to make them feel like they have a place here, that they enjoy their job. One thing I think you’re leaning towards is the new term of workplace management that didn’t really exist probably 10 years ago or so-

Mike P. (13:22):

Yeah, sure.

Derek (13:23):

In the workplace, management is a huge deal. And in the hospitality industry, we take associate engagement surveys very seriously in the morals of our team, because if our associates aren’t happy, that’s going to reflect in the customer service that’s delivered to our guests. And that would be applicable from anybody to a custodial associate, to a maintenance worker, to a lifeguard at the pool, or to one of our bartenders behind our barefoot bar.

Mike P. (13:50):

And that’s exactly what we see in an office environment, a corporate world, is that the culture that’s created by having desirable workplaces reflects on the company. And their corporate mission is driven by the ability to have people that are aligned with that mission and are happy in what they do and are productive because of the work environments that FM’s, and corporate real estate leaders provide these days, right?

Derek (14:15):

Yeah, that’s definitely huge in the recruitment and interaction of the younger, newer generation these days, and also the retention of the associates as well. Workplace management, we’ve taken that seriously. As I mentioned on the engagement survey, we do have a very robust wellness program at my property. We are the first a blue zone property in Hawaii for any hotel in the DOD. A blue zone is developed around making healthy choices easier, and we do that for our associates on a daily basis through our complimentary restaurant that we have for our associates while they work a full time shift. We have massages on site. We have an employee garden. We do walking moai’s. We do stretching. We do Zumba. We do yoga. We do all sorts of things throughout the day in the front and back of house to make our associates just as happy as our customers in the workplace.

Mike P. (15:17):

Excellent. Yep, that’s exactly right. The connection between employee wellbeing, and the end result with the customer, whoever that may be, the data and the research supports what you’re doing there. And it sounds like there’s a lot of great stuff happening, so awesome to hear about it. Let’s talk more about your involvement with IFMA. What do you think the value of IFMA is to our community? Maybe those listeners out there who are not currently involved, what would you say to them as far as why get involved with an organization like IFMA?

Derek (15:49):

Well, the relationships you build and grow over time in learning and advocating for FM, is what it’s all about. It’s about having fun as a group, and learning together, and learning from each other. And over time, I mean I’ve been a member for almost 10 years now, and it turns into a facility management family, and World Workplace. And Facility Fusion seems like a reunion, but also a kickoff to more great times. I’ve attended World Workplace three times. Facility Fusion, three times. I was a scholarship recipient at one, a speaker at several. And an award recipient as you mentioned earlier, from Graham in 2018. Over the past few years, I’ve been the IFMA Young Professional, I’ve been on the board of directors for that. And then I’ve been on the board of directors for the IFMA Hawaii Chapter, and then also the President of the University of West O’ahu’s Facility Management, Industry Academic Advisory Board.

Mike P. (16:48):

Cool, so what do you talk about when you speak to that audience at the IFMA conferences?

Derek (16:53):

So I’ve done several panels on young professionals in the multi-generational workforce gap, and then I’ve also spoke with the information technology community on emerging technologies, and integrated work order management systems in a variety of new building tech.

Mike P. (17:12):

Is there a message you have, or is there something, we kind of talked about some folks that maybe are obstacles to progress or kind of prevent us from moving forward because of a certain attitude, or a need to just think differently. I hope we do that on this show, is give people a platform to inspire others, to get out of their comfort zone, and embrace change, and look across not just professional roles, but generations. So any thoughts on any of that to bring some of that inspiration to our audience today?

Derek (17:44):

Definitely. Two big things that you touched on was change and attitude. I think you got to be a proponent of change, or else you’ll become a victim of it. And if you have a poor attitude, that’s going to reflect on the team around you, and you’re going to bring others down. Being an influential leader, you got to have a positive attitude, and you got to be a proponent of change because you’re in an evolving market. You’re in an evolving workplace, and if you’re not evolving, you’re falling behind, and falling behind is going to be failure eventually. It might not be failure now, but it will result in failure sooner than later. Classifying things as generational, I think is kind of shallow. I think it has to do with how you were raised, your personal behavior, your work ethic.

            And you don’t end up where you are today by just chance, you’ve made decisions. And if you didn’t make a decision, that’s still making a decision of not doing something. I’ve heard lots of feedback in our panels across the country about millennials or Gen Z doing this or that, but I mean I’m 29 years old and I’ve managed people with PEs, Master’s Degrees, all sorts of 30 years of experience as facility managers. But I’m their leader, and we’ve done greater things than what some can do when you don’t have the right energy, and the right personality, and human behavior to be able to make effective change with teams and business decisions.

Mike P. (19:15):

I like that. That’s exactly the kind of thing that we like to deliver here on the show. I’m so glad you could be a part of it. Thank you very much for joining us on the Workplace Innovator Podcast.

Derek (19:25):

It was a pleasure, Mike. Thank you very much.

Mike P. (19:27):

There you have it, everyone. Derek Bacigal sharing just a few of his experiences from the world of both hospitality and facility management. Bringing some really great insight and inspiration for us, all wrapped up in that Aloha Spirit that Derek expresses so well. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. We talked about so much more than could fit on this brief podcast.

            In fact, Derek shared with me about an awesome aquatics complex project that really exemplified his passion for design, that impacts people, place, and culture. It was a project that lasted about a year over three acres on the hotel property, and it was recognized in 2019 by the Waikiki Improvement Association, where it won the renovation project of the year award. And if you reach out to him, I am sure Derek would love to share more details about that project and other green initiatives that he has been working on, as he was really passionate with me about sustainability and operations. So I will leave a link in the show notes. You can connect with him there, and I hope you will join me again next week, as we continue to share interviews with leaders who will inspire you to be a workplace innovator. Peace out.

            You’ve been listening to the Workplace Innovator Podcast. I hope you found this discussion beneficial as we work together to build partnerships that lead to innovative workplace solutions. For more information about how iOffice can help you create an employee centric workspace by delivering digital technology that enhances the employee experience, visit