Author Archives: Christine Spasoff, CPM, RPA

Joanne Photo
Employee Name: Joanne M. Cusack
Employee Title: Property Manager
How Long Have You Been With AAM? 21 years

What Does Your Daily Work Routine Include? My day starts at 8:00 a.m. reviewing what needs to get accomplished that day, such as a report, talking with an owner, and following up on work orders that the building engineers need to complete. But of course it never turns out that way, every day is different, and some days what you plan doesn’t happen because there is a crisis at a building, or the owner needs information, or you need to meet someone at the building for the owner. It is different every day!

What Do You Like Best About Your Job? Every day brings something new and challenging, whether it’s the people I encounter from my different owners, to the tenants and contractors. And of course my fellow co-workers!

What Do You Like Least About Your Job? Being interrupted when you are in the middle of something and you need to drop everything to work on a new project.

What Attributes Does Someone Need To Have In Order To Be Really Successful In Your Position? I think personality and the ability to think quickly in certain situations. Someone who is happy and can smile even when their day isn’t going the way they want it to.

What Are Your Current Goals? My goal is to continue working with my owners to oversee the operation and maintenance of their property according to their objectives.

What Would You Do If You Did Not Have This Job? I would be retired and living in a warmer climate, but if I retire now I would stay at home and watch my soon-to-be grandson for my son and daughter-in-law!

What Do You Do For Fun Away From Work? My husband and I love to sit on our patio (weather permitting) on Friday nights in front of a fire and have a few drinks! We play cards with our friends once a month. I also enjoy reading crime and romance novels!

What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment? My greatest accomplishment happened many years back. I saved the company money on janitorial supplies and trash removal. I spent a few days looking into dumpsters (literally) to see if we had the correct container for the tenants at each building. Then I worked closely with the janitorial supply companies to reduce our cost and purchase the same products for each location. It was a lot of hard work but it paid off in the end and the company saved 15% that year on supplies and trash removal.

When You Were A Kid, What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up? I wanted to work for the airlines when I was in high school.

If You Had a Magic Wand, What Cartoon Character, Movie Star, Or Athlete Would You Become And Why? If I had a magic wand, I’d have enough money not to work, but as far as being someone else, I like my life the way it is! I’m happy just being me!

Lobby Security 2.11.15
24-hour premises security is very challenging (yet rewarding) and those of us charged with manning these 24-hour stations must use a myriad of skills in our daily work to balance life safety and customer service.  Believe me, there is certainly more than what meets the eye! I urge you to read on to get a written snapshot of this fascinating field and integral part of many high-rise buildings today.

The Technical Side

Our aim is to proactively identify every person who enters the building as a member, visitor, vendor, contractor or perhaps an unwanted guest.  This involves an incredible amount of effort such as:

  1. Facial recognition
  2. Enhanced memorization of employees’ names
  3. Constant study of non-verbal communication
  4. Body language (represents two-thirds of all communication displayed by an individual)

This knowledge helps us to better observe and detect an individual’s behavior and their primary purpose within the building.  We aim to identify routine activity patterns and make our assessments based on any activities that may be unusual.

The Human Side

Our job requires an active interest in the overall well-being of each team member, visitor and tenant, while also having some light fun while working with one another.  This helps create a freeway of shared information and compared intelligence, lays a foundation of trust and integrity throughout the ranks, and continuously builds dependability and reliability within the department in our world of “We’re 24 Hours and We Never Close”.

“Improved service delivery is a paramount characteristic that security must embrace and execute at every  opportunity.” – Zakiyyah F. Askia, Apex3 Security


The Security Side

The lobby security officer is the first interpersonal interaction that the visitor will experience at the building.  This exchange should be open, receptive, and pleasant.  However, the visitor could perceive this initial process as being invasive to their privacy because we request proper identification from each visitor who enters the building. Some people may find this annoying and frustrating as they just want to make their appointment and go.

In addition, each visitor is required to have a specific contact name of the person they have arrived to meet and this may pose an additional barrier, depending on the situation.  The officer will then contact the tenant to confirm their admittance.  The primary goal is to perform these processes with a casual feel yet infused with professionalism so as not to arouse displaced tension.  For example, first-time visitors who enter the premises could be coming to interview for an available job position and may be somewhat nervous and slightly apprehensive. Our job is to determine the nature of their visit and obtain the necessary information without conflict. We must identify and empathize with these emotions in order to create a positive interaction so that the visitor is able to fulfill their intended purpose.

The Personal Side

The security officer must present a proper uniformed dress appearance, display an approachable command presence, speak with proper diction and voice tone, provide sufficient eye contact, and utilize universal hand gestures.  This lends each security officer a sense of ownership over their purpose, role, and function as a first-point-of-contact building representative.

The Trust Side

It is of the highest importance for building security officers to welcome and develop good rapport with all building members and visitors alike and strive to keep a “clean slate” with everyday interaction.  It is equally important for the building community members to know that they can trust us.  This will encourage individuals to advise us if they observe any potentially hazardous conditions, building-related infractions or infrastructure-related concerns which we will report to building management.  By working together as a team with building management, we can accomplish our goal of ensuring the utmost safety and security for us all.

What other facets of this industry have you observed? Please leave your feedback here in the comments! Thanks for reading my first blog post.

A huge thanks to Zakiyyah F. Askia (pictured above) of Apex3 Security, Director of Security and Life Safety at 20 West Kinzie for contributing this article and being a guest blogger.


I recently had to deal with a major flood that occurred on a Sunday afternoon involving (6) floors in a 17-story mixed-use commercial building that I manage.  In case you are wondering, the source of the leak was from a tenant installed water machine.  Luckily, a few months ago our company arranged for a “Property Manager’s Lunch & Learn” with J.C. Restoration at their facility in Rolling Meadows.  I was extremely impressed with their operations and the facility which we toured but it did not occur to me at the time that I would be calling them in the near future to respond to a crisis in my building.  I guess you can say that, “Everything happens for a reason”!  When you are dealing with this much water damage you have to act quickly and you need an experienced company with the manpower and drying equipment to get the job done.  The clean- up is not just about extracting water from the surface of the carpet.  JCR scanned the entire floor and wall area with an infrared monitoring device to determine the areas that were still wet which were not visible to the naked eye.  The next step involved removing the vinyl baseboard and punching holes in the bottom of the drywall in order to dry out the interior of the walls with blowers and dehumidifiers.  In areas where there were rubber backed carpet tiles, those had to be removed in order to dry out the concrete underneath since the rubber acts as a vapor barrier.  This whole process takes days.

 Some important pointers to remember:

  • Store important paperwork in file cabinets, not in cardboard boxes on the ground because they will be damaged if there is a water leak.
  • Clean off your desk at the end of each day to protect your paperwork.
  • Report incidents as soon as possible to your insurance carrier.
  • Document everything!
  • Since cell phones are so critical in emergency situations, have a battery backup case.
  • If equipment was responsible for the leak, leave it in place so the insurance adjustor can inspect it.

My advice to all property managers is to do your homework in advance so that you have a reputable disaster recovery service to call when needed.  No one ever thinks it will happen to them.