My journey into the world of Facilities Management began by attending a Summer Internship Fayre hosted by UCL. Here, is where I first met Andrew Hulbert (MD) explaining his unique concept when creating Pareto FM to a crowd of inquisitive students. Immediately my interest was captured, as he made me wonder about the actual work needed for everyday businesses to function, such as a multi-storey office block, a 6* hotel, a global search engine head office, a global software firm and even a zoo!
After a very interesting application process involving submitting a 90 second video and coffee interviews, Andrew selected me to come into Pareto FM to truly experience the work of a Facilities Manager.
Previously, I was fairly unaware of the existence of facilities management, due to my youthful ignorance and never having considered the in depth functionality of businesses. Thus I entered Pareto with the little knowledge I acquired about FM on the internet and a very open-mind.
On my first day, straightaway I walked around modern offices to see the different workspaces as Andrew explained the purpose of various areas. Throughout my time, it became clear to me the effectiveness of these spaces and how this linked to the culture of that particular business – unfortunately for some it hadn’t worked, whereas others had succeeded.
At the 6* hotel I was astounded to see the background operations (or rather the underground), consisting of “secret” floors guests wouldn’t have considered existed I was amazed to see how this “underworld” had formed such a strong community, and the impact they had on the functionality of the hotel, and without this foundation the business would just collapse.
My time at search engine head office was a very different experience, more integrated, open and modern. The levels of interaction within the business with all staff was higher, and the environment was informal and friendly, to promote creative thinking. This atmosphere was enhanced in the offices of the software firm where all space available had optimum usage and a unique quirky design to attract a youthful workforce. With Pareto FM I learnt that this is something more businesses are trying to implement for a sustainable future.
The zoo was another unique experience altogether, where problems arose throughout the day having immediate effects on the thousands of visitors. I saw the team having to be fast, flexible and efficient when dealing with these situations as quickly and effectively as possible. I also witnessed a meeting concerning different stakeholders, which increased my awareness of the various perspectives and incentives of other people regarding facilities management.
I attended a monthly meeting Andrew conducts with his customers, which formally addressed and reported any issues within the business - which I thought was an innovative idea to bring to the facilities environment, along with the use of online resources to instantly share files with the client in real-time. I also acted as ‘fly-on-the-wall’ at interviews Andrew conducted for a senior position, where I learnt of other’s experience, and was able to observe their potential for the adaptability necessary for sustainability.
In addition, the mobilisation meeting I sat in on was very informative, giving me an idea of the scale of FM, demonstrated by an extensive spreadsheet. Here I was pleased to finally meet someone akin to myself in this male dominated industry – a young female, whose background was not stereotypical and thus she could bring in new ideas. A risk to FM would be to continue to adhere to the stereotype, presenting challenges when trying to implement positive, productive changes in a work place. FM needs to attract more talent by raising awareness, as Andrew did, by going to universities and enticing students willing to learn to experience the industry.
On attending The Facilities Show 2015, where Andrew did an impressive 5 talks across the 3 days, I was overwhelmed by the size of facilities. As a VIP I listened to an inspirational talk by Karren Brady, and later had to chance to converse with her about the progression of Women in Leadership. From the show what stood out to me was a talk about the 5 different generations in a workplace, and how it is changing. This is what Pareto FM are trying to introduce, by attracting younger diverse individuals to go against the norm to bring in a different skillset with new ideas. Moreover, Pareto also offer management training for their employees to enhance their skills and create greater opportunities for progression, which I believe is a great incentive to potential recruits.
The key element to Pareto FM’s success is their ability to build relationships with everyone – the customer, employees, the customer’s employees, and even the intern. His personable, professional, yet informal management style has worked extremely well for Pareto FM as it has built levels of trust within the business relationship.
My trust was tested when I voluntarily climbed tall ladders, wearing flimsy shoes in blustery conditions all in the name of art/photography, with Andrew a few feet below. All these sites were in prime locations of London, with extraordinary views from the roofs, which only facilities (and I) had access to. So at each building I managed to venture to the top, and capture these breath-taking moments of calm in the hectic life of facilities management.
I can honestly say this has been the most unique and eye-opening experience of my fairly young life, where I have met interesting people, whilst learning about the valuable, exciting work in FM.
1st Year Mathematics Undergraduate – UCL