Tanika J. Majette – Biotechnology Innovation Organization
The pressure might be on her, but Tanika J. Majette doesn’t seem fazed. She’s organized high-profile functions for over 20 years and now is entrusted with relocating the headquarters of the world’s largest biotech trade association to a choicer part of Washington, D.C.
A complementary skillset goes into events planning and facilities oversight, she tells Blueprint in December, citing organizational skills, collaboration and attention to detail. And come spring, what an upgraded locale awaits Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Majette’s employer since 2019. The new digs will be in the top two floors—the 12th and 13th—of a modern office building on New York Avenue near the hustling and bustling mixed-use development known as CityCenterDC, with the White House in view.
“We’re planning for our future,” Majette says. “We know that other firms have gone completely remote, but we have no plans to go that route. We want office space that’ll be our home away from home.”
This place should fit the bill, with BIO leasing 62,000 square feet on a block frequented by its member companies, as well as multitudes of D.C.’s movers and shakers. There’ll be food options, state-of-the-art security and infotech, and a mix of collaborative and private space.
Just the kind of environment that Majette says will be welcomed by BIO’s 150-plus employees and its frequent visitors from the healthcare, agricultural and green energy industries. An environment that also reflects one of BIO’s taglines: “Where breakthroughs begin.”
From virtual to actual
As one of BIO’s event organizers prior to last year’s promotion to director of facilities management and internal events, Majette got her fill of arranging online get-togethers and assuring safety protocols.
Well-versed in technology, she made use of online tools to create virtual workspace and to host events. One platform she singled out was “Remo Software” which enables five or six people to “sit” at a virtual table—a more personal approach than the “Brady Bunch” format of other tech providers. Armed with conferencing platforms like these, BIO hosted several virtual events, including the world’s largest biotech conventions in 2020 and 2021.
Nevertheless, Majette hopes this year’s events can be in person. If so, there’ll be ample space for planning at the new headquarters. Majette’s also tapping the expertise of such partners as Pembroke, a commercial real estate advisor with an office near BIO’s new headquarters. Pembroke having fashioned some of the most thoughtful approaches to the modern professional workspace, Majette is confident its design for BIO will be well received.
Ribbon-cutting and move-in anticipated for spring, she’s been meeting with architects, interior designers and other vendors. The BIO staffers indicated a preference for collaborative and hybrid work areas, and they’ll have them along with a lounge and places to privately brainstorm. Their input also factored in Majette’s selection of furniture and carpeting that complements the overall rebranding that BIO undertook last year.
“People do create best when they are in a space where they can feel their best,” she reminds. “They’re going to love this space.”
They’ll also feel safe, the entire building contracting with Kastle Systems, a leader in securing professional and commercial real estate, as well as multifamily properties. While cloud-based access control and video are among its offerings, Kastle also provides a security team.
“It’s indispensable for any organization,” Majette says. “Any place where there’s a large gathering of people, you’ve got to keep it secure. We prioritize the safety and security of our workforce, and we are confident the new space meets our objectives.”
A born planner
As to how Majette got into this line of work, it was mostly through real-time and on-the-job learning, though the basics may have been embedded in her DNA.
“I’ve always loved to do events, even in high school,” she says. “Planning just comes very naturally to me. Holiday parties, office parties, you name it.”
And she did a lot of that on an increasingly large scale after graduating high school in Maryland in 1995. A receptionist in her early jobs, she undertook extracurricular roles that colleagues might have avoided and, in the process, made them fun and productive. A big break came in 2006 when she was hired as conference services coordinator at the D.C. office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
There were lots of conferences to plan, that law firm having 22 offices and more than 1,700 lawyers. For Majette, it factored in personal as well as professional growth—she met her husband there who headed the facilities operations and remains a convenient sounding board.
She left the firm in 2009 for stints of around four years each with a couple nonprofits, Leadership Greater Washington and Great Minds, then in July 2019 took her skills to BIO, which might be the role that hits closest to home. Though now a healthy mother and grandmother, Majette recalls being a sickly teenager, diagnosed at 15 with a debilitating disease that necessitated surgeries, procedures, and medication. Now being in a position in which she can further the development of life saving biotech innovations through indirect but still vital means, she’s never at a loss for motivation.
She’s a member of both the International Association of Exhibitions and Events and the International Facilities Management Association, and upon her expected completion of online courses, she’ll be certified as a facilities management professional.
“Each role I’ve had has really prepared me to pivot to the role I’m in now,” Majette says. “Though I didn’t go to college for this, when opportunities arose for me, I stepped right in. I love a challenge, and I am a firm believer that each challenge can be a learning opportunity and a steppingstone.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. III 2022 Edition here.
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