How did you come to work in facilities management / corporate property?
My first job is the industry was as a receptionist for a serviced office company at the age of 19.
When you work as a receptionist in a serviced office company you switch across logistics, catering, H&S, telecoms, front of house, post-room, and everything in between. You can do one role that encompasses all of these different things.
After that I then developed further into the industry as I wanted a role where I could take all my skills and transfer them in various areas. There are few industries where you can truly do this and develop skills at the same time.
What is your role now?
I’m alliance director at CBRE. I’m responsible for the full delivery of services that CBRE is contracted to deliver for a financial services client across EMEA, which is a fully integrated Real Estate model – we do everything, everywhere. I work within the client organisation and their corporate real estate (CRE) department.
For me, it’s all about integrating myself into a client organisation to bring the very best of the industry to the client and to CBRE, bridging the alliance between the client business, my organisation, CBRE, the industry and finding a truly best-in-class solution.
What are your current thoughts on the state of FM and ‘workplace’?
I think that we’re still struggling to bring in fresh and dynamic talent. This is nothing to do with age though, let me make that clear. It’s about changing our approach. We should also bring people in from different industries and make the most of their skills – anyone with a customer-focused ethic. The legacy needs to be an ability to continue to added value. FM and workplace management can really deliver value to the employee and workplace proposition by allowing us to create communities between our own and client organisations.
I’m pleased the recent BIFM name change is prompting conversation, if nothing else. It’s elevating more broadly what we’re doing, which is great – despite varying opinions on it. It’s making people think more broadly about what we’re delivering.
We’re in very uncertain times at the moment, and these uncertain times stretch much further than our own industry but into the world, socially, politically and economically. The YMF strives to allow people to be their authentic selves and bring this into their careers. We want to drive even more diversity, from an even broader sense. We want to celebrate people’s differences and what they can really bring to the sector – this is the key to real success. This is also why we’ve made the very conscious decision to always have a woman and man lead at the head of the YMF.
What can you tell us about the YMF and your involvement?
The YMF has gone through a subtle evolution over the last two or three years. It’s always been about finding and nurturing emerging talent in the industry and offering a no-barrier entry to like-minded individuals. We now want to make sure the name that represents us is fit for purpose and reflects our ever-evolving vision for the group. Dynamism and energy have nothing to do with age. We want to make sure this isn’t a limitation to becoming a part of the forum. People who were part of the YMF 10 years ago are still part of it now and we want to make sure nothing is stopping people of any age of joining, attending events, getting involved or entering the awards.
Why do you put forward your time as a volunteer?
Full disclosure here – initially I wanted to progress my career. The YMF has absolutely delivered that for me. It is now about paying it forward and giving back. I now put in more than I take out, but that’s about legacy. I’m incredibly passionate about this industry and if I can be part of shaping and guiding its positive progression then I wholeheartedly want to. If we can’t stand up and fight for what we think the industry is about and where it should be going, then who can? Those on the periphery? No. We can, and we should.
The YMF committee, and particularly working with my co-chair, Claudia Halabi, is so inclusive. Nothing is ever alone. There is such a great culture and great support. Presenting the Young Leader of the Year award at the PFM’s last year was one of the top three highlights of my professional career. Doing things like that is so rewarding, on so many levels.
The Young Leader of the Year awards shortlist has just taken place – can you give us any insight into what to expect this year (without giving too much away)?
We are still judging at the moment. So far, we’re seeing people get involved in the award who aren’t yet part of the forum – which is great. The personal journeys have varied so much this year. It’s made us all think about whoever we appoint as young leader; it’s about the entire story, what they represent as an individual not just as a professional. The stories have been so empowering and we really want the industry to be about the individuals and not the commodity.
We’re hosting our finalist’s event in London on 4th October in London. And this is a chance for people to get involved in the process – the final part of the scoring. We want to see how engaged the audience is and also want guests to see what the YMF is all about, if they don’t already know us.