UW News

February 7, 2008

Moving? The right move is to call these move managers

Susan Smith and Kim Wisecup help their clients go places. In fact, all their clients are moving — out of buildings scheduled for renovation, into newly built quarters, back into remodeled digs. When whole offices have to go from point A to point B, Smith and Wisecup are available to help. They’re move managers in the Capital Projects Office.

The move management service was begun a little more than a year ago, and just in time, because lots of University people have been on the move. The residents of Guggenheim moved back into their renovated building last fall, while those in Savery moved out for their remodel. People in the Brooklyn Building had to be moved out recently after problems were discovered in the building. And soon, the first of about 1,600 to 1,800 people will be moving into the UW Tower.

What does a move manager do? The answer might be summarized as “whatever needs doing to facilitate a smooth transfer of people and their stuff from one location to another.” Ideally with a large move, Smith and Wisecup will start six months in advance, planning all that needs to be done.

They start by establishing a deadline for the move and work backward from there, creating a timeline for the department of things that have to be done.

They walk through the new space with the moving service the University has contracted with to do the actual transfer. Then there’s lots of coordination with UW departments — coordinating with UW Technology about phones and data, with Facilities Services about miscellaneous small projects, such as disconnecting plumbing in a lab, with recycling to make sure there are large recycle bins at the move-out site, with Mailing Services for redirecting mail and with Parking Services for changing parking permits.

The job requires good organization, communication and flexibility. “As hard as you try to make everything go totally according to plan, there’s always a wrench, so you have to be able to take it and go with it, think on the fly and readjust,” Wisecup said.

Like the time Smith arrived at Bloedel on a Saturday to move HR — a former tenant of the Brooklyn Building — into its new offices, only to find two cars parked in the loading dock. It was a football Saturday, Smith said, and the two unknown drivers were alumni with disability permits, off to Husky Stadium.

“The movers actually pulled up to the stairway and used wood to ramp from the truck to the stairwell,” Smith said.

Wisecup recalls a time when a huge wood lathing machine seemed to have been built inside a room because the door was too small to move the machine out. “We had to make special arrangements with the construction crew to demolish the concrete walls before we could move it out,” she said.

Wisecup comes to the job from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where she was an administrative manager in a department that experienced so much staff growth that it ended up moving seven times in six years. That led to a gig helping to coordinate the move of 1,000 people into the new PHS Arnold Building on the Fred Hutch campus in 2004. Smith is a longtime employee of Capital Projects who wanted to “try something different and get out into the field.”

Both women find the job satisfying.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to get a huge project done and see everybody settled in after it’s been chaos for them for months before the move,” Wisecup said. “I also enjoy meeting so many people. You get to meet everybody from department chairs to principle investigators to facilities guys who are drilling something into the wall.”

“Administrators’ jobs don’t stop because they’re moving,” Smith said. “I like taking care of things so they don’t have to.”