To mark World FM Day 2021 - Celebrating FM: Standing tall beyond the pandemic, Facilitate is featuring the stellar operational workplace and facilities managers who continue to support their colleagues, organisation and broader economy.
What do you do?
I manage the housekeeping, catering and maintenance teams as well as a facilities assistant. Also under the remit is health and safety, insurance, vehicles, postal services, stores and portering.
What attracted you to FM, and how did you get into the industry?
I started my career in admin and moved to being a PA within estates at a local university. I enjoyed the challenges and projects work my colleagues around me were doing so much I used opportunities to develop skills to enable me to go into FM and moved from estates to an FM role in the university
How long have you been in your current role?
Do you see yourself as predominantly a task or a people manager?
Predominantly people – and not just the people in my own team – you need to constantly manage expectations and understand the reasons behind your customers’ requests and timescales.
Would you describe your role as predominantly operational or strategic?
How many people are there in your FM / workplace team, and to whom does the FM team ultimately report?
In total 22, but most of these are part-time roles. We report to the hospice through the head of corporate services and finance director.
My top perk at work is…
Knowing that your team and colleagues really make a difference to people’s lives. It can be very humbling and puts life into perspective.
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
This year (as for most people I’m sure) the challenges from Covid-19 and continuing to provide the service, learning new ways of working, working with different teams to research and ensure when new guidance was coming out we were both ready and prepared. Undertaking different roles to provide consistency and support to colleagues in all teams across the hospice. It was definitely out of my comfort zone – but enjoyable at the same time!
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
For people to actually understand what we do. Our role is much broader than people think but also sometimes we only get noticed when things don’t run smoothly. A silver lining of Covid is that colleagues have seen how essential our work is keeping all the work of the hospice operational.
If I wasn’t in facilities management, I’d probably be…
I can’t imagine not being in FM.
Which FM / workplace ‘myth’ would you most like to put an end to?
If it doesn’t fit anywhere else in the organisation it must belong with FM. In various roles we get some very obscure enquiries. Over the years in education I was asked about scattering someone’s ashes and what the legislation was, I’ve been asked to measure someone’s head for a graduation mortar board!
What advice would you give to a young facilities / workplace manager starting out?
Get plenty of experience in all areas, learn from those who know, but question so that you can understand their reasons., This helps you to evaluate what is good practice and what might need to be changed as it has always been done that way for no real reason. Be brave!
What was the weirdest day you’ve had in the office?
During a major power outage at one of the university buildings I worked at which was reputedly haunted. While undertaking checks to prepare for reinstatement of electrics I heard girls giggling and smelled perfume in different areas. The building was locked off with just a couple of male colleagues working in another area. I was a bit spooked!
Early bird or night owl?
What FM job in the world would you love more than anything?
I think I may be doing it already – but FM on a beach resort somewhere hot with a coral reef and palm trees would also be great!
And where would FM be an absolute nightmare?
Houses of Parliament – too many egos!
Your life outside FM mostly involves…
Working on my allotment, cooking and being with family.
Kirsty Hardwick is facilities manager at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice
Click on the links below to read all of the other World FM Day entries.