Ten years ago, in a time before the then BIFM awards routinely recognised the achievements of up and coming FMs, we at what was FM World magazine set out to identify a group of 40 individuals representative of the future face of workplace and facilities management. The limit was on experience rather than age, in this case no more than 10 years’ of working in the sector; we wanted to find people demonstrating significant achievement in a relatively short space of time.
One such Rising Star of FM was Martin Frohock, then building services and facilities manager at Cancer Research UK, and now head of workplace UK & EMEA for Abcam. A decade later, we ask Frock about their personal progress and the evolution of the profession.
What do you remember about 2012 – and if you could, what would you warn your 2012 self about?
I remember a few world events from 2012 quite vividly: the 2012 Summer Olympics in London; the worst power outage in world history – the 2012 India blackouts left 620 million people without power; and NASA's Curiosity mission when rover successfully landed on Mars.
At the time, I was also studying part time as a sustainable energy postgrad – and remember this as the international year of sustainability.
If I could give my 2012 self any advice it would be to slow down to go faster. I missed out on a few longer-term opportunities as I was rushing from one thing to the next.
What makes you excited about the profession? How has this changed from when you began your career?
I’ve always felt that workplace has an incredible platform to create an environment that brings people together, sparking their potential through an inspiring experience. It can be technical, or people-focused, strategic or incredibly operational. You can change the working day of one individual or a lifetime for an organisation with your decisions/leadership and professionalism.
I have always taken this platform and responsibility very seriously and, over time, I have changed the way I approach my role. The balance of people, technology and place is not always an easy position to get to, but it's increasingly changing the way that I approach our work.
How have your expectations of workplace and FM evolved? And what do you think the profession needs to do next?
When I was just getting started in FM there was a focus on health, safety, BCM and security, alongside all the traditional FM functions, as we broke away from conventions of an over-simplistic hard and soft services model. The evolution to incorporate sustainability and environment, employee engagement, data, and analytics and now hybrid has been fascinating to grow with.
I want to see the profession have an increasingly loud voice in organisational design, change management, technology strategy and people culture, coming together to forge new and stronger operating models with a focus on people, place and technology – and with our colleagues in the centre. Let’s see a few CWO (chief workplace officer) roles.
What is the most pressing challenge facing the industry?
Finding our identity. I am still seeing a lot of paralysis in workplace decision-making and investments. Those organisations that have capitalised early in listening and learning strategies have experimented over the past few years and are now recreating their workplace identity.
Those that did not are caught at cross-roads and are finding it increasingly difficult to determine where to go next. Covid gave us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to listen and learn – but it’s never too late to start the discussion.
What are your top three focus points currently and why?
- Talent – what will our future organisations expect from Workplace? What skills and capabilities do we need to equip the future rising stars of Workplace with? and how can we create the space for everyone to thrive?
- Technology – what is the strategy for the organisation, and how can we influence and drive this using our unique platform to create and drive real value?
- Trailblazers – what are the early movers who invested in solutions/technologies and models throughout 2019-2022 saying. What lessons were learnt, and what new ways of working were formed?
How much has the profile of the profession changed in the last decade? Why do you say so?
The profile has been raised significantly, beyond my wildest expectations coming into FM. Enlightened business leaders now understand the value proposition that a well centred workplace organisation can bring, and they need answers from workplace leaders.
It's been reassuring to see an increasing dialogue amongst people from technology, design and construction industries over the past few years – to a point where they frequently cross-pollinate one another and share ideas in a progressively joined-up way.
Reacquaint yourself with our other Rising Stars of FM
- Martin Bell
- Annette Best
- Ryan Botta
- Dean Botten
- Will Bowen
- Peter Burnell-Jones
- Helen Cooper
- Jason Gurd
- Adrian Harris
- Herbie Hawes
- Daniel Hawkins
- Andrew Hulbert
- Ryan Jarman
- Annie Karastoyanova
- Stephanie Kendall
- Ben Luvaglio
- Kate Morris-Bates
- Darren Raczkowski
- Tom Robinson
- Rishi Sharma
- Tristam Slater
- Kate Smith
- Will Tyler
- Clifford Yeend