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Career Ladder talks to the MD of RFM Group

Q: How did you progress through the profession to your current role?
At the age of 26 I was lured into the profession to suit my child care needs. I started life as an area supervisor and worked my way up the ladder achieving frequent promotions. Over the years I have worked across a variety of sectors and with many people who have helped me to secure the role I undertake today.

Q: What made you choose FM as a career?
Honestly, it was the flexibility & working conditions of area supervision. Because this was often working anti-social hours – i.e. early mornings or late evenings, I was able to juggle this alongside motherhood. It was one of the best decisions I ever made!

Q: How did you progress through the profession to your current role?
With lots of hard work and dedication! I would also attribute it in part to being in the right place at the right time, making a good impression and being noticed. I have also taken a fair few calculated risks over the years.

Q: Do you have any qualifications or training in FM and related areas such as health and safety? And how have you benefited from them?
I have 25 years’ experience in the industry and have undertaken lots of training and development along the way. I’m also a huge advocate of out of hours ‘self education’. So many skills in life are transferrable and so it’s vital to never stop learning.

Q: What is your greatest contribution to the FM sector, or your current role?
Becoming part of a Group business that began with just two employees and no clients 16 years ago that now employs hundreds of staff. We pride ourselves on providing our employee’s the opportunity to reach their full potential. We have a strong culture of Accommodating People which applies to all of our staff and our clients too.

Q: What’s changed most since you started in FM?
IT and Communication by far… A building is still a building but the difference nowadays is how you gather the necessary “Big Data” and then report on it. Being able to communicate this information in real time is what most people thought were pipe dreams years ago – now it is standard practice.

Q: What personal qualities do you think are needed for a successful career in FM?
It depends on the position and the individual but my advice to anyone going into any employment and not just FM would be: Think smart, work hard and make sure you make a difference [even if that difference is only to yourself].

Q: What would make the biggest difference to the FM sector? And how could that be achieved?
Equilibrium across the board as the industry is still very male dominated.

Q: Are you a member of any FM association or body and if so what benefits do you think they provide?
No – I’m not a networker and what spare time I do have I like to dedicate to my family as work consumes my life and has for 20 years.

Q: What advice would you give to young people coming into the profession now?
Listen to the advice you are given, follow your instincts and work smart as well as hard.

Q: What are your long-term goals for the next seven to ten years?
To retire from RFM Group, passing over a good steady ship to a new captain who I’m confident can take over my position.

Q: What do you predict could be the main changes to the FM sector over the next few years?
The use of technology and the intelligent use of smart data which we are already witnessing. Also a move from big is beautiful to more SME procurement. And finally, a skills and labour shortage after Brexit if we don’t watch out.

Q: What are the greatest challenges of working in FM?
Client loyalty and helping clients to understand cost vs quality.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
The varied challenges the industry brings and the vast array of differing people and personalities.

About Sarah OBeirne


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