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Tomorrow Meets Today

5b._Jeremy_WaudJEREMY WAUD

How would you summarise your career to date and how it lead you to what you do today? 
I have 35 years experience in the contract services and facilities management sectors. I started work in the family business and then in 2002 I decided that I needed to cut loose after my MBO for Select FM was rejected. I chose to go it alone with six other colleagues. I ended up fighting my case in the high court against my family firm and former employer who were less than impressed with my actions. The lessons learnt were immeasurable and Incentive FM Group, now has over 2,000 staff and an enviable blue chip client list.

What do you hope to achieve from the ‘Tomorrow Meets Today’ programme via your mentoring interactions with the young managers?
I am personally hoping to be inspired by these talented and enthusiastic young managers and to find some that will be ‘stars of the future.’ I want to encourage them to be themselves and not be stifled by politics, process and policies. I also want to show them what a fantastic career you can have in the sector and how fulfilling it can be.

I want to explain that in the service sector, people are the foundation of any business and should be a company’s greatest asset. I will demonstrate how at Incentive FM we put our trust into our team and empower them to deliver innovative, progressive solutions to maximise value for customers.

Why is it important that we encourage young managers to want to achieve more from their careers?
If we want to continue to have a dynamic industry that is taken seriously by the business sector as a whole then we need attract and retain talented young people. They must be interested in realising their full potential and in turn be rewarded for hard work and good results. This will attract other good people and massively benefit the industry.

What advice would you give to the younger people starting in facilities management today?
I would recommend getting experience early on in two or three companies so that they can be exposed to different cultures and approaches to business. Listen to what everyone has to say and then make their own mind up about how you believe things should be done. Then ask – is this the right organisation for me? Or even – could I do this for myself and run my own business?!

What is the single most important issue facing the leaders of the future and what should we be doing now to offset it?
There will be a number of challenges facing future industry leaders and they are not much different to those we are all facing now. Challenges around people are likely to increase in terms of dealing with the complexities of employment regulation and pay. However the major challenge will continue to be about profitable growth and margins – fighting the increasing commoditisation of certain areas of the FM industry such as security. Recruiting and retaining staff with the right sales skills is hard and is likely to become harder.

What is your approach to encouraging diversity?
As a business we are run entirely as a meritocracy without any bias towards gender, age, ethnicity or sexual orientation. As such we have a good mix of people and hard work and commitment is fully rewarded. Underpinning this is our share option scheme and a unique training and development programme. This bespoke training is designed to help promote the culture of the business, whilst also giving people the additional skills and knowledge to enable them to unlock their full potential. Our business culture is ‘freedom within a framework’ meaning that as long as the legal and service requirements are met then it is down to the individual teams how they achieve this. We find this helps people to develop faster and better and enables us to promote from within and reward loyalty and hard work.

3b._Debra_WardDEBRA WARD

How did your past lead you to what you do today?
Every career move to date has been a building block readying me for my next move. My strongest influences have been my parents… Learning from them as owner/operators has created a somewhat Pavlovian effect in my work ethic.

What do you hope to achieve from the ‘Tomorrow Meets Today’ programme?
I try to approach every interaction both as a teacher and a student. I have been a coach and mentor for over 10 years and I always feel both delighted to help and support other facilities managers and enlightened by their experiences.

What advice would you give to the younger people starting in facilities management today?
There have been many lessons learned over the last five years in facilities management. I would encourage young managers to take their technology skills and perspective and apply it to the rapidly growing and changing world of FM. In doing so, they will be able to carve out a real niche in a highly competitive industry. I would also advise them to have a general knowledge in FM but also to become an expert in one area making them indispensible and highly sought after.

What is the single most important issue facing the leaders of the future?
The skills gaps and “war on talent” are easily identified but a less obvious one is that of consistency. As the profession grows and changes at a rapid pace and organisations race to keep up with that pace, new ways of working are being employed across the world in isolation. Ensuring that we as a profession provide a high, consistent and transparent offer is growing increasingly more difficult…most notably in technology.

What is your approach to encouraging diversity?
I take part in many gender diversity initiatives (WiFM, Women in the City, Women on Boards, Everywoman…) that the younger me may not have seen the value in. I have seen countless examples of where a little encouragement and coaching have enabled women to reach goals they themselves have never seen possible. I started gender diversity work because, as a woman, I can speak to that. In doing this however, I have been privy to diversity as a whole and have seen first- hand the positive impact it can have on organisations. The fact is the world is made of people from all kinds of perspectives… companies who ignore that do so at their own peril.

Why is it important that we encourage young managers to want to achieve more from their careers?
The knowledge and skills in the profession over the last 10 years has grown exponentially. In addition many are talking about the “war on talent” as a real concern in the coming years. Encouraging and helping young managers will serve them and the industry well.

About Sarah OBeirne

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