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 am workplace manager for Pinsent Masons’ two Birmingham offices.
What attracted you to FM, and how did you get into the industry?
I have always been interested in the logistics of a building, the workplace and how it is supported. I started in this industry by working ‘front of house’ for a leading London law firm and naturally progressed to become a facilities supervisor/manager.
How long have you been in your current role?
Three years and 11 months.
Do you see yourself predominantly as a task or a people manager?
As a people manager in the first instance. I create bonds and connections with my team, which enables them to trust me so that together we build confidence to continuously improve service. I play a key role in business tasks and the implementation of new procedures, workplace practices and environmental compliance.
Would you describe your role as predominantly operational or strategic?
My role is largely operational with all the common attributes and responsibilities. My strategic focus strengthens operations, working together towards an equal end goal.
How many people are there in your FM/Workplace team, and to whom does the FM team ultimately report?
I manage a team of eight, but the global facilities team is over 100, reporting to our director of property and facilities. Across our Birmingham offices we have 600 people to look after.
My top perk at work is…
The Institute of Leadership and Management are courses the firm offers. They are a great source of CPD and learning. And we have an amazing social hub, where we can meet, eat good food and have quick catch-up one-to-one meetings.
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
The mobilisation of five separate offices in a weekend, starting on Friday night and completing on Monday morning. This involved launching all building operations, offices facilities and closely collaborating with IT teams to open on time.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
As the person responsible for the energy management and carbon footprint, I see these responsibilities increasing every year. Maintaining a more sustainable workplace and developing new methods to reduce energy overall will be a key way to improving workplace management.
Any interesting tales to tell?
On holiday, on a South African safari the guide took us to the cheetah’s den. He just walked up to the den, opened the gate to the cage and walked in. He left the door for the first two people to walk in and I was panicking when it came to our turn. But the cheetahs were well trained and I had an amazing experience.
If I wasn’t in facilities management, I’d probably be…
An architect. I find buildings and infrastructure fascinating. The Cathedral Di Santa Maria in Florence – Brunelleschi’s Dome is an amazing structure!
Which “FM myth” would you most like to put an end to?
That it is a male-dominated role. There are an equal number of men and women in a facilities leadership positions in general, and the number of women in managerial roles is rising.
What single piece of advice would you give to a young facilities/workplace manager starting out?
Absorb the technical knowledge of the building you are managing. Get to know the different teams within your role… Learn negotiating skills to procure the best contractors.
What was the weirdest day you’ve had in the office?
Working at a different law firm when an MP was due to give a speech. When he arrived, he wasn’t happy with the set-up and decided to leave the events hall. He had to be coaxed back to complete his speech, which was pretty good in the end!
What FM job in the world would you love more than anything?
I’d love the logistics of managing top hotels such as The Savoy, The Ritz or The Dorchester.
And where would FM be an absolute nightmare?
In a company that demotivates staff and creates a culture of fear.
Your life outside FM mostly involves…
My family, my church, travelling, theatre, violin and clarinet lessons.
Monica Hill is workplace manager for Pinsent Masons in Birmingham