The FM calendar is packed with good events, but the twice-yearly FM Inspired conference is fast becoming a must-attend for all those familiar with the corporate speed-dating meets education format. Yesterday’s thought-provoking event, held at the prestigious Sopwell House, saw more than 100 industry professionals attend around 10 educational and inspirational sessions intermixed with supplier/ buyer one-to-ones and general networking.
Well-known people development specialist Liz Kentish from Kentish and Co once again chaired the event, kicking off with a panel discussing change management in FM and the skills required. The experienced panel, which included Alan Russell, head of FM at T5 Heathrow Airport, Sarah Lodge, senior workplace manager EMEA for Yahoo!, and Wendy Clark UK property manager for Volvo, agreed that change was a fundamental part of FM but could be exhausting. “It’s a personal journey as well as an organisational one” argued Russell. A positive attitude and strong communication are essential for success. “FM needs to be a proactive hero and not the reactive victim when it comes to change,” he went on to argue, but admitted that FMs should be realistic in terms of timescales and not to build up the hype.
The Chinese word for change blends ‘chaos’ and ‘opportunity’ which the panel agreed often summed up the FM approach to change management.
The panel was followed by a presentation from one of the sponsors, carpet manufacturer Interface. Far from being a salesy session, which this event, and others like it, have been guilty of in the past, this was an insightful look into how the business has moved beyond profit to take a holistic and sustainable look at its business. Projects such as Net-Works in the Philippines to collect old fishing nets which are unsightly and damage marine life and recycle them into carpets are inspirational, as are Interface’s designs which reflect nature. Interface might not have yet invented the flying carpet, but their mission zero campaign is making them a high-flyer.
A notable highlight was Peter Clinker, Head of FM & Property at Nestle, talking about the impact of their bring-your-dog-to-work policy. While many questioned Clinker about a drop in productivity thanks to their canine friends, the audience were suitably distracted by the stage antics of spaniels Shrimp and Brook.
Other strong sessions included Karen Plum, director at Advanced Workplace Associates talking about her research into cognitive fitness which revealed the eight things which have a positive impact on our brain’s performance: caffeine, hydration, breakfast, being comfortable, sleep, mindfulness, physical activity and a lack of distractions.
Liz Kentish took time away from chairing the event to talk about creating high-performing facilities teams. Her tips included strong communication, co-location, autonomy, cultural integration, recognition, and a strong talent pipeline.
Magenta’s own Cathy Hayward also took to the stage to talk about boosting your personal brand. She urged delegates to work out their own personal values first and make sure they matched with any activity undertaken. Networking, volunteering, speaking at events, a strong social media presence and getting your name in the press are all crucial aspects of building your brand, she said.
Planon’s Erik Jaspers spoke about smart buildings, while Adam Mason, property and FM manager at B&Q described how B&Q’s FM department has transformed from a non-performing department with a non-compliant estate, to a supportive, integrated, performance and customer focuses department that has been nominated for two internal team awards and is now respected as a source of support, advice and guidance. Inspiration for us all.
The FM Inspired format works, or else the 20-or-so sponsors from organisations such as Helistrat, Planon, Active FM, Premier Moves and our very own Magenta, wouldn’t come back. The educational sessions – a mix of motivational sessions, industry specialists, and panel debates – break up the selling and create a well-rounded event. And there were no thinly-disguised sales pitches this year.
The second fundraising dinner not only finishes off the event in style, but adds to the networking opportunities.
Overall, this is an excellent event, which is fast becoming one of the leading conferences in the FM calendar. We’re already looking forward to the next one on 13 October at the Intercontinental O2 London.
Follow @fminspired to read tweets from the day