That’s one way you can look at Giselle Holder’s path to success. Holder, who works as Facilities Management Director at Acuitas Caribbean Limited recently earned two of the highest accolades in the industry within the same month.

In September, Giselle attained her Certified Facility Manager (CFM) designation, one of the most globally-recognised credentials awarded by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). For the FM industry, the CFM is seen as the pinnacle of mastery of skill and knowledge in Facilities Management. If that weren’t enough, she has also been nominated as one of IFMA’s Forty under 40 finalists, an award programme aimed at recognising and honouring the talents and achievements of young facility professionals from around the globe.

While the pandemic has impacted on many, for Giselle, it was an opportunity to do more.

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“COVID-19 was horrible but it provided an opportunity for me to have a conversation with myself. Going after the CFM has been something I've actively wanted to do and not do at different periods of my life and career. After my Masters [in Facilities Management] I was done with studies. But in those quiet periods during lockdown I thought about it again and what I could do to hone my skills - I decided to go after it.”

She not only went for it but obtained the credential and was elated to read the congratulatory email 15 mins after the prometric exam. .

She said that she prayed A LOT as her “preparation was less than ideal", but Giselle’s years of consistent hard work has definitely paved the way to her feats. Her stellar record includes the coordination of the facility management portfolio for the U.W.I. Open Campus Chaguanas Campus (still in progress) and Team Lead for C.O.S.T.A.A.T.T. Sangre Grande HVAC Assessment (still in progress). She was also the Team Lead for the Facility Management consultancy for an Integrated Facility Manager for the new National Insurance Board (NIBTT) Headquarters (completed) and the ACUITAS Team Lead for the International Development Bank (IDB) Facility Condition Assessments of their Caribbean and Latin American country offices.

These projects and the experience gained would have also undoubtedly led to her nomination as one of IFMA’s 40 Under 40 finalists. The nomination is even more significant as Giselle is one of only two finalists from Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean to be listed as IFMA Fellows had the difficult task of culling the list from more than 100 nominations from across the globe.
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“It’s extremely humbling... and I’m very grateful. It’s always good to be celebrated in the moment; sometimes we wait too long to tell people they’re doing a good job and give them that pat on the back. I see this as an inspiration to do more and to really push within the profession...we have alot of work to do in terms of recognition and highlighting it as a viable career option in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Giselle can easily be seen as an inspiration not just for fellow Trinbagonians but women as well. As one of a few women in the industry, she has blazed her own trail and is reminding other women they can too, regardless of gender.

“Anybody who puts in the work can get this job done and we definitely need more women in the field because of the value that they can bring. It’s about your will, brainpower, your ability to navigate and that’s not gender-specific. As with all things, it’s about you and your focus. Your frame of mind is so important, don’t go in feeling inferior. Be your own cheerleader.”