2023 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Chris Fernandez

Dec. 19, 2023
Chris Fernandez
Chris Fernandez

Chris Fernandez joined the Facilities and Engineering team at San Jose Mineta International Airport (SJC) at 32 years old, coming from a background in commercial fire alarm safety systems. Seven years later, he has successfully integrated himself with each of the divisions at SJC, working as SJC’s computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) Program Manager and leading the charge on the airport’s employee engagement program.

"It's about understanding the impact that we have on the traveling public and how critical that is on a massive scale,” he said. “The things we do can determine the positive or negatives of somebody's day.”

Fernandez oversees the airport’s fire alarm and life safety system, and has managed numerous large-scale fire alarm and fire sprinkler projects over the years. These projects include the substantial replacement of critical alarm system components, the replacement of fire pumps, installation of nitrogen systems for combatting sprinkler pipe corrosion, and most recently beginning the multi-million dollar replacement of the aging sprinkler system in one of the airport’s parking facilities.

Fernandez was recruited to lead the airport’s employee engagement program as it’s liaison with City Hall and Gallup. Partnering with the deputy directors of each division and their assigned champions, he assisted in the creation of various action plans and progress tracking meetings to ensure that survey results were thoroughly reviewed and relevant, impactful measures were developed to address them.

During his tenure at SJC, Fernandez also evaluated and revised a number of inter-divisional workflow processes, leading to significant time savings and process improvements. After conferring with each team’s stakeholders to identify redundancies or inefficiencies, overhauls were introduced to the work order billback process, annual fixed asset inventory, and annual insurance evaluation walkthrough.

Time savings for these tasks ranged from several hours to several days worth of employees’ schedules, providing airport team members with additional availability to address pressing business needs.