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Career Ladder talks to CBRE’s Regional Facilities Manager, South West & Wales

Q: How did you progress through the profession to your current role?

I started my career in FM 12 years ago as an Assistant Administrator. Through my drive and determination to enhance my skills and progress my career, I gradually advanced into my current role as Regional Facilities Manager, South West & Wales. In my current role I am responsible and accountable for TFM service delivery to 1,800 buildings across the South West and Wales via a team of four Area Managers and 85 engineers, with a regional business value of £10 million per annum and additional projects revenue of £1.2 million.

Q: What have you found the most challenging experiences working in FM?

The most challenging aspect of my role is balancing all the key requirements and allocating sufficient time to effectively manage and make improvements such as; customer communications, people management, finance and compliance.

Q: Are you a member of any FM association or body and if so what benefits do you think they provide?

I am a member of IWFM and have been for several years. As a dedicated platform for workplace and facilities management professional development, IWFM hosts a number of conferences throughout the year with guest speakers showcasing the latest technology. These events and the IWFM is a brilliant platform for networking and sharing best practice.

Q: What qualities do you think are most needed for a successful career in FM?

To be a successful FM professional, I believe the main qualities are to be; dynamic, resilient, innovative and have a collaborative approach.

Q: What has changed about your job role since the COVID-19 crisis? E.g. home working, furloughed, redeployed?

My job has changed a lot since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am now working from home 100 per cent of the time. Our reliance on technology is sometimes criticised, however, the pandemic has demonstrated – things can still happen, but in a different way.
I have really enjoyed the benefits that comes with working from home. This has resulted in greater productivity time allowing me to focus on my strategic plan for my region.

Q: What is your organisation doing to ensure the wellbeing of staff – whether working at home or returning to the workplace?

We have appointed COVID Wardens across our main sites to monitor and manage behaviours. So far, we have undertaken 125 site reoccupation surveys and mapped out one-way systems and safe zones. Alongside this, 360 additional Housekeepers have been recruited who have delivered a huge 16,000 additional hours per week of touchpoint cleaning, we have installed a total of 4,515 hand sanitiser stations and implemented 28,000 new pieces of social distancing signage to help make our buildings a safer place to be.

Q: Do you believe the pandemic has highlighted the important role of the FM sector and what areas do you see as most key?

Historically the FM industry has been somewhat invisible and under-recognised in terms of the part they play in keeping businesses running effectively. With the changing requirements of the workspace, businesses and customers, have recognised the pivotal part we play in making sure our buildings are fit for use and a safe place to work for their colleagues.

Q: What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession now?

The FM industry is fast paced and requires determination, resilience and innovative ways of working. FM is an ever-changing environment now more than ever and our role is to predict the changing needs of our customers and the environment.

Q: Which of your achievements are you most proud of during your career?

My proudest moment is winning Pattenmakers Young FM Manager of the Year 2020. Winning the award has given me the platform to encourage other young people to start and progress their career in FM.

Q: What do you predict could be the main changes to the FM sector over the next few months and years?

With the economic hit to businesses across the UK, I foresee that demonstrating value for money will be one of the key priorities to all FM providers. In addition to this, our customers are working in a different way and we need to align ourselves to be able to deliver diverse service solutions.

About Sarah OBeirne

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