26 Jun 2024

Know Your HBS Staff: Nicole Messuri


by Shona Simkin

Nicole Messuri is a true athlete, playing three sports as a youth and in college, running marathons in her twenties, and now focusing on strength training and pickleball. It seems fitting that she oversees Harvard Business School fitness services, but on top of that she manages custodial services and other ancillary services. From fresh towels at Shad to salted and shoveled walkways, Nicole makes sure her teams have these important campus services in top shape. We talked with Nicole about her background, her work, and being part of the LGBTQ+ community at HBS.

Tell us about your role.
As the associate director of custodial and fitness services I oversee the contracts for both the custodial team through C&W Services and the Optum Health fitness teams. My teams also manage other essential ancillary campus services including pest control, window washing, the plants in the chapel, snow removal, board washing, residence hall cleaning, bottled water program, laundry room services, and event set ups. I also oversee Executive Education Residential Services, which includes daily room cleaning, bellhop services, dry cleaning, package deliveries, and laundry services. It’s a lot of relationship management, by working with the service providers and communicating the expectations of service excellence that we so often experience on campus. It’s an awesome place to work and I’m very lucky. The teams I work with are some of the most hardworking and dedicated people—many are long tenured here and it speaks volumes—it’s great to have them as part of my team. I grew up an athlete and just love the fitness world, so working in this facility is great. I’ll be here for 13 years this coming January.

What was your career path to HBS?
I was working at MIT in a similar role to this and realized I wanted to be in higher ed administration, so I took advantage of their tuition assistance program and got my master’s at Northeastern. I wasn’t actively looking for a job, but my wife was, and she saw the listing at HBS and suggested I apply—and sure enough it worked out. It was probably the best decision I ever made. I started with just custodial services and about six years later I took fitness under my portfolio. Bob Breslow [managing director of administrative services] hired me— I will never forget the night he called to tell me I got the job, the Friday before winter break Since then, every Friday before winter break I send him a text saying thanks for giving me a chance!

Has your love of fitness influenced your career?
I love the fitness and wellness industry, and I’ve been lucky enough to oversee a lot of projects in this facility. The industry has definitely shifted from the jazzercise and cardio days and is now more focused on strength and functional training. Thanks to a generous donation from Tim Day (MBA 1964), we were able to upgrade our facilities and opened the Tim Day Fitness Room in 2019. Recently we created more space for strength training and we opened the Functional Fitness Studio on the lower level of Shad. We pay attention to the trends and customer feedback and we’re fortunate that the School dedicates resources to a state of the art fitness facility to support the community’s health and wellness. Shad is an important component of the residential, academic, wellness, and spiritual experience here on campus.

Tell us more about being a co-lead of the LGBTQ+ Staff Affinity Group.
I’ve been part of the group for many years—it was formerly called Family—and about a year and a half ago the co-leads reached out to ask for new volunteers because they were stepping down. Sharing the responsibility with two others has been great because it is not on one person to carry all the workload with managing and planning events for the group. It’s been an awesome way to network and get to know people, and I think it’s a good balance with the three of us. We just planned a bunch of events for Pride week, and we each did something different. Now that it’s an official affinity group, the School provides resources and backing from ODEI and HR. There’s more structure and visibility around the program, so the group has really expanded. We try to get together once a quarter with events like lunches, happy hours, and speaking panels during Pride. This year our goal is to do a little more organizing with maybe a book club or other community building events.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
My wife and I have two kids; my daughter is five and my son is three and a half. I carried my daughter and my wife carried my son. It’s chaos, but I love every minute. It feels like it’s going by so quickly. We live on the north shore in Wakefield.

I love anything active, lots of running, walking, strength training. I’ve always been motivated to find time for working out. I grew up playing basketball, softball, soccer, and baseball for a while—one of the few girls in the league. In college I played the same. When I graduated, I took up running and decided to run marathons. I did five in three years! I got the itch, did it, and it’s one of my biggest accomplishments, but now that I’m older I’m realizing that that much running isn’t as good for my body, so I've shifted more towards strength training, which I love.

Another thing I do is weekly pickleball. We have a group that plays every Thursday and I love it, it’s so much fun. It started with just a few of us on the courts one summer, then others started joining us and now we have upwards of 11 people playing, all from different departments.

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