(Written by Alice Finney)
Unsurprisingly, my second week at Magenta rolled around faster than I could say British Institute of Facilities Management (or BIFM if you’re being witty). This week centred around the yearly Facilities Show which took place at the Excel centre in London. Comprised of three full days of seminars, lectures and exhibition stalls, the show was a chance for me to meet new people and to learn from some renowned and respected individuals in the FM industry. We started off with a catch up lunch with the editor of FMJ magazine, Charlie, whose first foot on the career ladder ironically began as an intern with Magenta! It was genuinely lovely to be able to hear someone else’s intern journey and it was reassuring to know that there is wide scope for career progression, should you want to push for it.
Having conducted some previous research on the exhibitors and speakers we would like to meet, we turned up to the show armed with business cards, sets of queries and open eyes for any potential clients. It was at this point that I really began to realise the importance of networking: prior to this, the term “networking” had seemed like some arbitrary concept, a term thrown around the office, used by professionals to make them seem busy and in-demand. However, it became apparent that to make new connections, build on existing relationships and get your personal brand “out there”, networking is essential. Furthermore, the more people we made contact with, the clearer it became to me that everyone in the industry is interdependent in a ‘Made in Chelsea’-esque manner whereby everyone knows everyone.
The Facilities Show cannot be discussed without mentioning the Industry Ball that coincided with it. On Tuesday evening all the biggest names in FM joined together at The Connaught Rooms for a three course meal and a jam session to a jazz band who normally play at Ronnie Scots jazz club, just FYI. Aside from some of the dad-slash-drunk-wedding-dance moves that were being cut across the floor, the evening proved to be highly enjoyable and amusing. Indeed, not having attended a proper ball since my year 11 tragic prom, I found it an enlightening experience.
Coming from a multi-cultural background and parents of mixed heritage, what stood out as glaringly obvious at both the ball and the facilities show itself was the lack of diversity among attendees and exhibitors. As a young woman fresh out of studying feminist and postcolonial modules at university it was a little disheartening to walk into a room near full of the same demographic. I therefore made it my mission to go to seminars which focused on improving diversity within the sector. I was happy to find out that most of the big companies are working to improve this issue and realised that this could be a potential area I would like to get involved with.
To round up the week, I went along to one of our client’s brand new offices to oversee their HR director’s interview with a journalist. Overlooking The Shard and a mere stone’s throw away from the burgeoning station of London Bridge, the Fourfront office is a prime example of an ergonomic office of the future, an open plan space filled with quirky designers all tapping away at their adjustable desks.