Open-access content Tuesday 1st October 2013
Oliver Jones, chairman of the judges for the BIFM Awards, reflects on his time in the role before his handover to Steve Gladwin.
19 September 2013
The last four years have flown by as is always the case when you are busy and enjoying life!
My role as chairman of the judges for the BIFM Awards has been a key part of this journey. As I finalise this year's programme and prepare the handover to Steve Gladwin as the new chairman, it is a good time to reflect on how the awards and our pursuit of excellence in FM has progressed.
In late 2009, we were all still in evaluation mode following the financial crisis from one year earlier. The economy seemed to be in free-fall and staying in business was the priority for most companies.
Tough times indeed. But such periods are also when the next generation of winners emerge. True competitive advantage needs to be clearly set out and demonstrable through delivery of results.
It was against this backdrop that we set out a clear plan to enable the BIFM Awards to become an important part of that opportunity for the leaders in our industry. We planned a big push for growth in raising the profile and authority offered by demonstrating leadership. We wanted to ensure we could work with objectivity, auditability and participation by active industry senior professionals throughout the judging teams.
At that time, we were typically receiving only 40 to 50 entries each year - so only four or five submissions per award category - meaning less competition and, consequently, less kudos for the winners through success. Back then, we only accepted entries in hard copy (remember when we used to live life on paper?); limited coverage took place of the winners each year; feedback wasn't available; and the pool of judges was relatively small.
Our primary goal was to energise the process and secure entries from the best, in volume, to make winning any category a real stamp of success.
We did this by bringing in leading names to the judging process to assure all entrants of the rigour of the evaluation process. We also needed to leverage the relationship with the marketing and promotion tools of BIFM through the regional networks, the online communications mechanisms that were rapidly developing, and through the pages of FM World. Finally, we needed to change several awards categories, which we did over the years.
Our success measure would be the number of entries and the extent to which these reflected the full breadth of the FM market in the UK and the manner in which winners told the world about their achievement.
Today we have a transformed awards programme that attracts two to three times the number of entries that we started with. We have over 80 judges involved in a range of relevant and hotly contested categories. We also have leading FM firms, alongside innovative and fast-growing new entrants, all producing exceptional entry submissions. All are excited
to make the finals and thrilled and proud in the event that they win.
I have enjoyed leading this development and have been superbly supported by many talented and highly committed lead judges throughout. The BIFM Awards are a key event in our respective calendars and clients, consultants and service providers alike now all make time to make sure they are there.
I am looking forward to my final awards night as Chairman of the Judges on Monday 14 October with great expectations and a lot of pride in our collective achievements.
I hope that as many industry colleagues as possible are also there to join in the celebration of excellence and success and to pass the baton onto Steve Gladwin for the next chapter.