Things can change very quickly in a few months.
After getting the opportunity from the Prince's Trust for 4 weeks work experience as a facilities coordinator at a large mobile game developer, I had a picture of this being a chance to get my foot in the door of a gaming company and hopefully gain a career in game design. I was new to the whole facilities coordinator role. It never really crossed my mind this is what I would do but I had the pleasure of working alongside some great people.
During this time I got to meet Andrew Hulbert, Managing Director of Pareto Facilities Management, when he gave a fascinating talk on how he has got to where he is now by networking and just getting noticed. Little did I know, after staying in contact with him over the next few weeks, Andrew gave me the chance of 3 months paid work which allowed me continue to learn and give me more of an idea of the FM world.
Throughout the 3 months, I continued my stay at the mobile game developer but as a Pareto employee. Free food and drinks were available all day at the office where there were areas for people to sit and converse with each other. There was also a large gym, books to read, a games area kitted out with 2 PS4, 2 Xbox's, pool table, etc. I could go on but I've been known to inadvertently make people jealous!
For a first job, this was perfect for me. It wasn't all just fun and games, there was work to be done, planning out desk moves, speaking to the landlord and other contractors, organising small meetings for 10 people to organising large events for over 200. I found myself looking forward to getting up and going to work (I know, crazy right?), learning something new, and the wonder of what will happen today. It was great to work in that facilities role as you got to help make sure everyone that worked there, including game designers, were happy. So I got the feeling that without the facilities team, staff might not be so well looked after and the whole company could suffer.
As you probably can imagine for an 18 year old's first full time job, this could have set the bar so high that it might have impacted on my future jobs with other companies that don't have the luxury of free food or a free gym. That's why Andrew planned for me, at least once every 2 weeks, to attend another one of the Pareto sites to get a feel for “real working environments”. This included visiting a large multi-storey office building, a small shared office building, a search engine used across the world and even the London Zoo.
The large multi storey office was an interesting one, almost the complete opposite to the mobile game office. It was more what you imagined a typical office would look like. When I was there for 2 days, they were in the process of refurbishment on some floors and rebuilding a hot food canteen. It was interesting to hear how things had been planned to minimize as much disruption to workers as possible. It would be interesting to see how it all looks now. This was my first look at a “normal working environment”
Working at London Zoo was a whole different experience compared to the other locations. Early mornings, getting in hours before the first visitors, making sure everything was in line, areas where clean and enclosures were safe. When any problems came up during the day, the team had to act fast no matter how big or small the job. When in an office and someone says the tap isn't working, it sounds like a pretty dull job. However at the zoo when you hear over the radio the taps to wash the elephants aren’t working, it sounds much more interesting! I was allowed to attend a meeting concerning budgets and short term and long term jobs and how complicated it is planning these out.
No matter where I’ve worked, they all have their differences; whether big or small, they all have an impact. It's been interesting to visit these locations to get an idea on what works well in an office space and what hasn't worked so well in one location might work great at another location.
The last few months have flown past and I’ve realised life can change in a matter of days. I’ve learnt quite a bit about the FM world and what it takes to not only look after a building but keep everyone inside happy and comfortable in their working environment. I'm looking forward to the future, continuing to learn more for Pareto and also knowing now I’ve had this experience, I can take on any new job and give it 100%.
Ultimately, a facilities team that is approachable, builds relationships with not only staff but new and present customers and contractors, yet remains professional and willing to go that one step further, that's a facilities team that will make work enjoyable.
That to me is what Andrew has created with Pareto-FM, a company modern and engaging with the professionalism and focus to get the job completed, whilst also building relationships and trust by mixing in the correct amount of informal management. This works wonders in today's world. I'm glad to be a part of that.