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Pareto FM Blog: #LoveWhatWeZoo By Jack Flanagan

Having never wanted to go to University, I left school after 1 year of AS levels with no career ideas or passion to pursue anything other than rugby. Putting all my eggs in one basket (pardon the rugby pun) probably wasn’t the best idea, but at 18/19 the so called glitz and glamour of having a contract in rugby was something I knew I wanted and chased aggressively since the day I left school.

The day finally came where I was offered my first ‘contract’ to play rugby in the third tear of English rugby and I could not have been happier, this is something I had wanted for as long as I knew. Long story short, it didn’t work out for me and it was nowhere near what I had the assumption it would be when I was a wee boy. I was balancing this along with a part time job in the shop at Whipsnade Zoo selling admission tickets, ice creams and animal themed cuddly toys to the public. Initially I loved my time at the Zoo, I have quite an affinity to the zoo stemming from childhood and I had learnt some key skills that I will take through life with me, but I knew I had so much more to offer. It was always just narrowing down exactly what that would be.

Along came an opportunity to second to Pareto maintenance team to assist with site preparation for the Queens visit to open the brand-new Elephant Centre for Care. I leapt at this opportunity. I had dabbled in all sorts whilst working in the shop which ranged from events management to monetary loss prevention exercises, so I am not the type to shy away from a new challenge. I put everything into my 6 week secondment to the Pareto maintenance team and really enjoyed seeing a side of the Zoo I hadn’t seen before, but I certainly new at the end of it that I could not see myself doing this as a career.

During my secondment, I met Alex Mills the Pareto Associate Director for the ZSL contract and very shortly after meeting her I met Andrew the founder of Pareto. I was invited to get to know them as an over the table informal interview style of meeting to look at an opportunity to work on the helpdesk at London Zoo. I was incredibly reluctant at first, trying to avoid ‘The London City’ like the plague. I also didn’t want to end up stuck to a desk taking phone calls all day (as this was what I thought my role would be). After the interview with Andrew and Alex I was gobsmacked as to why people were so interested in me and wanted me to go for this role so much?!

After much deliberation I took the role, leaving the comfort and security of working 3 minutes from home and heading to the big smoke to learn an entirely new site with entirely new processes in an entirely new role to anything I had heard of before. I was encouraged and told that this role would be what I wanted to make of it. Yes there was the side of the job that kept me at a desk logging calls via jobs that came through the phones/emails but there was also the encouragement and opportunity to learn site infrastructure and compliance items. Being based at a Zoo you can imagine the incredible variety of things this would entail for example one day I’d be watching poo float down a complex drain network and the next day I’d be face to face with a Zebra whilst assisting Alex carry out a CAT1 animal enclosure inspection survey!

Very soon after joining Pareto I was introduced to a brand-new compliance system that had just been purchased by ZSL to centrally handle risk and compliance items across both sites. I love technology and really got stuck into this system, learning it from the ground up and understanding the power of what it can do for clients. This involved a mass document upload and I mean mass document upload. Once this task was completed, myself along with my manager, we had to really drill down into the details of the system. After much hard work we now have a complex, detailed and thorough system that manages all risk and compliance items for both zoos – an achievement I am immensely proud of.

My interest and research into compliance and risk took me away from my role on the helpdesk and I was promoted to FM Coordinator after a year or so with Pareto. I love looking into the granular details of legislation and standards we need to meet across both sites to render us compliant. I have carried out tonnes of research, particularly to completely refresh compliance related PPM on site and the process we follow to complete risk assessment recommendations. I am thoroughly enjoying where my role is taking me and continue to stay hungry to learn as much as I possibly can to develop my role further.

Throughout my 2 years with Pareto I have been put forward for various training courses related to compliance, health and safety and knowledge within FM and in November this year I am attending a 1 week IWFM Level 4 FM training course, which I am already excited and plotting my tube journey, to get to the venue (please can someone help me!!)

The recurrent theme from Pareto, throughout my time here is to continually investment in me. This is so much more than a regular facilities company, this is Pareto FM. Find me another example of an employer that their MD hand delivers a plethora of doughnuts, cakes, sweets, beef jerky and nuts when visiting a site Every. Single. Week. This is facilities management with a serious personality, Pareto Personality we call it, and I have loved every minute of it!

From feeling completely lost when I left school and not knowing my career path, to now having a drive and hunger to be a part of the FM industry, I hope I continue to repay the faith shown in me by Alex and Andrew and look forward to developing my knowledge and experience in this expansive industry.

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