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ThinkFM – Part 1

Launched back in 2011, ThinkFM is an annual conference organised by the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM). ThinkFM is designed to promote debate and get the FM industry thinking about what it needs to do in order to benefit businesses, the economy and wider society. FMJ went along to the 2016 event.

After a couple of years in King’s Place, this year ThinkFM has moved a couple of stops down the Circle Line to Milton Court by the Barbican, a larger venue for an event getting more popular every year. Indeed in 2015 it was awarded a ‘Mark of Excellence’ for Best London Conference at the Association Excellence Awards.

Lasting the whole working day ThinkFM put together several excellent speakers and was supported by headline sponsor Sodexo and multiple other partners.

After a bit of breakfast networking the day was kicked off by broadcaster and journalist Kirsty Lang, famous for her work with Channel 4 and Radio 4. Lang acted as the day’s facilitator. She introduced BIFM chair Julie Kortens who formally opened the event, introduced productivity as the day’s theme and spoke briefly about the Stoddart Review, a new initiative from the Institute being launched in memory of the late Chris Stoddart.

After the introductions were taken care of keynote speaker Marc Priestley took to the stage. Priestly spent over 10 years working as a member of the pit crew for McLaren’s Formula 1 team, part of the line up that helped Lewis Hamilton to his maiden World Championship in 2008.

For three quarters of an hour Priestly gave the audience a glimpse into the importance of marginal gains in motorsport and how embracing challenges as opportunities can help organisations and what FM can do to try and adopt this mind set.

After a quick break for everyone to refuel a trio of speakers addressed the topics of wellbeing and happiness, asking how these impacted productivity.

Eugenio Proto was first up. Proto is an associate professor at the University of Warwick as well as a research associate at the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy. His recent research interests include effects of intelligence, personality and subjective wellbeing on economic decision and labor productivity but during the conference he looked at whether it was true that a happy workforce is a more productive workforce. Amongst other things he asked whether this was a genuine trend or whether people are happier as a result of being more productive. He also discussed whether extroverts are more likely to self report as happy as well as getting more done.

After Proto was done it was the turn of Jill Miller from the CIPD. Miller focused on demographics, health and wellbeing to see why developing a culture of wellbeing is good for employees and good for business. Apparently the CIPD has recorded a rise in stress related illness, presenteeism and even staff taking annual leave just to give themselves time to catch up on essential work. Of course being from the CIPD she emphasised the importance of FM and HR working together to make progress.

The final fork of the trident was Katie Ledger, senior practitioner at Complete Compliance. After 12 years working as a television news journalist for the BBC, ITN and Channel 5, Ledger has created a career as an author, consultant, speaker and conference facilitator. Working for organisations such as Microsoft, Xerox, Vodafone and Unilever.

She used her experience to explain the science behind self leadership, revealing how “the best leaders think about personal performance and shows you how you can step change your own ability, control your own biology, and regain the energy levels you had 10 years ago.”

In the final act before lunch all three of the above sat down as a panel and took questions from the audience. Stay tuned for the round up of this afternoon’s speakers.


About Charlie Kortens

Charlie Kortens

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