5 minutes with… Steve Gladwin

This month, to mark the launch of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) Awards 2019, we sat down with chair of the judges Steve Gladwin to chat about all things facilities management and awards, with a distinctive international twist. In addition to being chair of the IWFM International Special Interest Group, Gladwin has worked in Australia, New Zealand and across Asia-Pacific, followed by a long career in the UK.

Magenta: How did you get your start in facilities management?

Steve Gladwin: After a five-year building services engineering apprenticeship with Matthew Hall in London, I joined Haden in Australia working as a project manager on construction sites. The work was interesting but the environment was adversarial, so I decided to leave the business and travel. However, I was offered a role in the fledgling Haden FM business – a team of one – to help to write tenders and win work. I ended up staying there for 12 years, building up the company to become the second-largest provider of FM services in the defence sector together with manufacturing and prison facilities. It was a good all-round induction to working in FM in the early stages of the industry. I got to do everything in FM from marketing and business development to mobilising contracts and operations.

M: What convinced you to stay and pursue a career in the sector?

SG: The manager I worked with at Haden FM was an incredible mentor. He invested an enormous amount of time in my development, helping me to learn different skills and move around in different roles within the business. I studied for an MBA at one of Australia’s leading business schools under his guidance. The work was so varied – and involved extensive travel to really interesting sites and places. I saw the very best of the FM industry.

When the company was taken over by Tyco International, the focus changed to mergers and acquisition, which enabled me to learn a whole host of new skills. I ended up buying into what became Tungsten Group and grew the business to be the largest independent FM company in Australia before selling it. Because there was a restraint of trade, and my father was unwell, I decided to move back to the UK. I thought I’d stay two years, but 12 years later I’m still here – having headed up Hochtief and now Nodus Solutions.

M: You’ve worked in numerous countries and continents, and you’re a past chairman of Global FM. How has your international experience framed your approach to FM?

SG: Before I got involved with Global FM, I was on the board of Facilities Management Association Australia and later became chair. I was then part of the team which developed the Partners in FM Excellence agreements between the FMA Australia, IFMA and IWFM (then the British Institute of Facilities Management). That was the genesis of Global FM and it came at a time when organisations were increasingly looking to procure FM across borders at a regional or international level. I’ve always had the view that you get out of member organisations what you put in, so it’s important to take an active role. You’ll get a lot out of it.

M: For the past five years you’ve also been chair of the judges for the IWFM Awards. How have the awards evolved under your stewardship?

SG: I was fortunate to inherit a strong awards programme from [previous chair] Oliver Jones. Together with the lead judges we have worked to further align the categories with where the industry is heading in the future. Because we’re pushing the boundaries in some of these categories – such as ‘social value’ and ‘impact on society’ – there are fewer entries. But it’s important for us to signpost the future. We’ve also worked hard to raise the bar in terms of consistency of the judging process across the categories and ensure there is a more robust governance structure. That work saw the institute win an award for its awards process.

M: What would you say to any businesses or individuals thinking about entering a category in the 2019 IWFM Awards?

SG: Go for it! I hear small organisations say they’re too small to win an award. But if you look at past winners, there are a whole host of smaller organisations. SMEs are doing some brilliantly innovative things in our sector and are being recognised for it. The important thing is to read the criteria and recognise that winning an award is not just being good at what you do or being best in class, it’s about leading the way, and going that extra mile. We see a lot of submissions which demonstrate good FM. But these are excellence awards and we’re looking for those excellent examples to shine through.

If you’re thinking of entering this year’s IWFM Awards, click here to find out how Magenta can help you. But be quick – entries close at midnight on Monday 29 April.

Ben Keeley

1 thought on “5 minutes with… Steve Gladwin”

  1. A great industry professional, team leader & advocate of the IWFM Awards. It is an absolute pleasure & privilege to work with Steve Gladwin. So much has developed – significantly & positively – under his leadership. IWFM and the whole industry is indebted to Steve for developing this remarkable world-class awards process which highlights the very best in the FM & Workplace profession.

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