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18 January 2019
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Building for the future

4 March 2014 

I wrote a few months ago that one of the signs of economic recovery was the demand from British expertise around the world.

I am not going to get into any of the rhetoric around why the UK is seen as the land of opportunity for so many, but it is not only a place that people want to come to, but there is also a strong demand for what we can offer to other lands.

Two weeks from today I shall be in Africa and three weeks after that in China and, as usual, I’m not being paid for my looks. There is a lot of demand for our expertise and that has to be a positive message. I am a great believer in thinking positive and I have little time for the pessimists. One of the key aspects of leadership is to inspire people and you don’t do that spouting negative thoughts. 

There is much to be positive about in this country and others recognise that, which is why they are willing to pay for our help. Perhaps it is not our way to celebrate such success too openly, but we should at least acknowledge that, once again, it is the business community that is pulling the country around.

One of the things that gives business strength is its infrastructure and facilities management has played its part in maintaining that infrastructure. Over the last couple of years I’ve seen examples of global organisations looking at what their UK FM teams are doing and exporting that around the world. Whilst these days the sun may set on the British Empire I am pretty sure that once more it doesn’t set on our influence in some field or other.

Although we are doing so much overseas, we also need to make sure that we keep developing the future generations here at home. The young are our future. The current generation of business leaders are doing fine, but we have to sustain that. Attracting young people into business careers and training them well is crucial to sustaining our position. It is flattering that the rest of the world comes to us for expertise, but it is important that we have it for ourselves, for if we cease to be so good, the world will stop coming and we will find ourselves back in decline.

Whatever I am able to offer comes because of people who saw something worth pushing in me when I was in my teens and twenties. They cajoled, pushed and yes, sometimes bullied, me to do something with what I had. I am forever grateful to them for that and it’s why I have tried to help bring on people ever since I first found myself in a position to do so.

Let’s never forget that the young are our future; we must encourage and nurture their talent.

John Bowen is an FM consultant