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Brand new goal


When it comes to recruitment and retention in FM, Sykes argues that proactive resourcing is key and he’s been impressed with ABM’s strategy which is very proactive in resourcing teams. This is particularly notable within ABM’s Blackjack Promotions team, its guest experience brand that operates mainly in UK airports.

Explains Sykes: “They’ve done some fantastic recruiting around attitude, appearance and customer focus and we’re hoping to replicate that – not just within the UK and Ireland but Europe and the US. Their approach means that particularly in aviation which requires a huge surge in resourcing during the summer months, we haven’t had too many problems because they are way ahead of the curve.”

The other issue for FM of course is around finding staff with the right technical skills. ABM has addressed this at the entry level through its Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P.) which is run in schools to help inform young people of the opportunities in engineering and specifically, to raise the profile of the facilities management industry amongst young people and their parents, while creating a pipeline of future technical talent.

At a wider corporate level, ABM’s Elevate strategy which was launched in 2021 remains the lynchpin of its strategy; aiming to elevate the customer experience, the employee experience and the use of technology and data.

“There is also some good stuff in the technical space we can draw from the US,” says Sykes.

“For example, we’ve got a little R2D2-type robot at the airports which is programmed to take you back to your car and we’ve a number of Cobotic floor cleaners in operation amongst our cleaning teams, but it’s the contribution our massive data field makes which is most interesting.

“One of the best examples I’ve seen was with a leading coworking brand which was benchmarking all their offices on usage, footfall, rent per square foot, all of which was collated into determining the most efficient work spaces they had across the globe. We were able to supply them with a lot of that data from both the UK and US.

“It shows how we can help organisations check on the performance of their assets to improve performance.”

Drawing on the resources of the organisation is key to Richard Sykes’ plan for growth. He relates that the “US have been super helpful; in my first few weeks I had 50 one-to-ones with them.

“My aim now is to get the growth going, create more synergy across the UK & Ireland business and bring all the businesses closer together. We also need to cultivate a fresh leadership team, so I am delighted we’ve appointed Niall Partridge as UK&I Finance Director from October 2023. He has been promoted from his role as Finance Director for Ireland which demonstrates the strength of talent we have within the business.

“The priorities now are to keep the team motivated, highlight our USPs and draw on the enterprise to drive some of the customers over there here.

“My ambition is to make this one of the key FM players in the UK & Ireland and while doing so I’m loving been back in FM in a great organisation and a sector where I’ve devoted most of my career.”

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