An Apartment State Of Mind
January 10, 2022
What do financial analysis, IT support services, ancillary services, Fairfield, and Mt. Whitney have in common? Peter Chan!
When Fairfield associates are not climbing the corporate ladder, you might find them climbing mountains – literally! When Peter left the Fairfield office on Friday, October 15, 2021, he was about to make the trek of a lifetime. Well, almost…
A chat with Peter Chan, Fairfield’s Director of Ancillary Services, enlightened us on how his successful 16-year career at Fairfield evolved alongside his enthusiasm for everything outdoors. In his tenured career at Fairfield, Peter has never lost sight of the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance, and Fairfield has afforded him the opportunity to develop his hobbies as passionately as he grew his career.
When asked what drew him to Fairfield in the first place, Peter recalled:
“I come from a real estate family…I had always had an interest in real estate, I was in San Diego, and when I looked at who was around, Fairfield was here. Fairfield just seemed like a cool company to work for. I consider it more luck than intent. Once I joined Fairfield, I noticed that there’s a lot of opportunity here. It’s a big company, but at the same time there’s a lot of mobility. I think that’s a by-product of the leadership that built the company as well as an HR department that encourages mobility. It’s a culture that promotes growth within the company.”
Sixteen years ago, Peter came to Fairfield with a background that included electrical engineering, venture capital, and a position as IT Manager for another company. He joined what was then Fairfield’s communications department, then became a Financial Analyst before moving back to IT services. His job duties evolved to include investor communications, reports and presentations, managing office buildouts, and even building some of Fairfield’s internal SharePoint sites. At the heart of it all, Peter has held integral roles across our Property Management department.
Property management, which accounts for around 85 percent of Fairfield’s services, is a dynamic environment, requiring adaptability and great teamwork. When property management adjustments are needed in order to be responsive toward Fairfield’s tens of thousands of residents and to keep them happy, the IT department helps to create or instigate those changes. Of course, in an ever-changing environment, management changes and roles evolve. Peter acknowledges that the flux keeps things interesting:
“Change is the only true constant in the Universe – I feel it’s better to see change as opportunity, than to fear change or see it as an impediment.”
The Fairfield culture allows for autonomy, provides necessary training, and promotes personal and professional growth. As Peter further explained:
“Fairfield is unique in that everyone, no matter what their position with Fairfield, is empowered to be part of the decision-making process. Everyone has an opportunity to contribute toward making things better.”
As time progressed and Fairfield continued to grow, new departments formed and old departments evolved. Peter’s problem-solving expertise led him to his current position as Director of Ancillary Services in 2017. His team pays the bills, ensures that residents get their bills, does the due diligence for new acquisitions, and finds ways to make Fairfield’s assets more efficient. Their oversight includes things you may not think of – vending machines, laundry facilities, EV charging stations, and The Internet of Things – which in and of itself helps with building management systems. You can imagine how the scope of this position has grown given the current digital transformation trends and the need for sophisticated automation of many things related to keeping apartment communities functioning optimally.
Peter’s career at Fairfield is a perfect example of the support, development, and opportunities available here, so, what does all this have to do with Mt. Whitney?
Peter applied lessons learned in his career at Fairfield about the importance of thoughtful team building and the teamwork required to successfully adapt to changes to create the team that would head up Mt. Whitney on October 19, 2021.
He reminds us of a very important message to create time to follow your passions:
“You need to take care of yourself-first, in order to bring your best self to work.”
Always an outdoor enthusiast, Peter is no stranger to outdoor sports. Camping, mountaineering, and cycling are an integral part of his active family life. A true family man, Peter is raising his 8-year-old son Edison to appreciate the health benefits of remaining active. Edison often joins Peter and friends on fun and what some might consider very ambitious outdoor adventures – including San Diego’s recent Bike the Bay, LA’s CicLAvia, and the LA Chinatown Firecracker Run, not to mention Southern California’s numerous hiking trails.
Sometimes it’s through your children that you meet the friends and partners who share the common interests and dreams that propel you onward and, literally, upward. In Peter’s case, because family is so important and because his son Edison has joined him on so many outdoor adventures, it is through Edison and his friends – known as the three Es for names all beginning with the letter E – that Peter came to know some of the parents who would eventually join him on this Mt. Whitney adventure. (Much as the three Es wanted to join their parents on this hike, the adults told them they would have to wait a few years.)
Peter says his fearless way of embracing change and life’s opportunities led to his vision to climb Mt. Whitney – “because it was there!”
The talk about hiking Mt. Whitney began in 2018. In 2019, Peter and his team applied for permits for a planned 2020 hike. Fairfield joined the bandwagon by creating a banner for Peter to plant on top, because we don’t just create better living for better lives for our residents, we fully support our associates as well. However, as their permit date approached, the raging fires of 2020 postponed their plans until 2021.
With an elevation of 14,505 feet, Mt. Whitney is the tallest peak in California and in the lower 48 contiguous United States. The altitude alone makes optimal physical fitness a recommendation at the least. It is not a hike for the unprepared. Weather conditions can be fierce and unpredictable, and this past October proved to be especially and unusually frigid for the area.
Peter’s plan unfolded as he and his hiking partners arrived the Sunday prior to their Tuesday permit date to begin acclimating themselves to the altitude. They first stopped in Lone Pine, which sits at about 3,727 feet. From there, the team set up camp near the Whitney Portal trailhead at around 8,000 feet, where they spent Monday night before heading out with flashlights and headlamps at 1:30 am on Tuesday to begin their trek up the mountain. Counting on a 12- to 16-hour journey, they figured an early start would allow them to finish the 22-mile round trip before sunset Tuesday evening.
When Peter’s hiking team reached Trail Camp, the last camp on Mt. Whitney, at 12,000 feet, things got very serious. Having trekked through some light snow past frozen waterfalls and lakes and knowing that on the other side of the westside ridge where they stood winds from the west would compound the frigid weather conditions, the team was forced to evaluate their safety and preparedness to meet the challenges of the last 2,000 feet. They wisely determined that turning around was in their best interest.
Peter’s team headed back to the trailhead, not in defeat, but knowing they accomplished this 12,000-foot, 16-mile, 12- to 13-hour adventure with the pleasure and satisfaction of a great memory and knowing that the mountain will still be there waiting for another attempt.
Whether in work, play, or family life, flexibility, perseverance, determination, and adaptability are required to find success. Peter acknowledges that utility management is a unique niche in the multi-family industry, but finds success knowing that sustainability and innovation are essential in this rapidly growing industry sector as it moves to meet the demands of the current housing shortage.
You will also find Peter involved in some ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) reporting to identify material risks and growth opportunities. He says:
“The core messages of ESG are not new to people at Fairfield. These are not just words – people are authentically aware at Fairfield. ESG awareness has always been in-practice at Fairfield, now we just have a name for it.”
More than just a work ethic, Peter’s life ethic reflects the core values that shape Fairfield’s culture – integrity, mutual respect, passion, transparency, and trust. As you’ve seen with Peter’s story, careers truly are made at Fairfield. Whether your interest lies in property management, construction, or corporate function, you can bring your skills to the table, and Fairfield associates will welcome you into a culture that is friendly, interesting, and collaborative. If you’re ready to start a career at Fairfield, check out our career openings to see if something interests you!
You can count on Peter to add new and exciting adventures to his lifetime experiences. He will share his enthusiasm with his colleagues, maybe even with you! And we’ll let you know when Peter reaches the top of Mt. Whitney.