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’m the workplace manager for Criteo – a global technology company powering the world’s marketers with trusted and impactful advertising – based in our London office.
What attracted you to FM, and how did you get into the industry?
When I heard that the company used scooters to get around the office, I was hooked! It was such a different atmosphere to anywhere I had worked before. The tech industry is such a fast-paced and important industry; I’m very fortunate to be a part of it. I started off as a temp receptionist and worked my way up to operations manager and then to my current role.
How long have you been in your current role?
I’ve been working at Criteo for five years, and a workplace manager for 17 months.
Do you see yourself predominantly as a task or a people manager?
FM has had a huge culture shift in the last decade. Aside from our ‘work’ our job is primarily people-focused. FM is more concierge now, and you need a diverse skill set to manage all the different parts.
Would you describe your role as predominantly operational or strategic?
In my honest opinion, it’s both. Of course we have tasks but we are always being pushed to be future thinkers and to challenge the status quo.
How many people are there in your FM/workplace team, and to whom does the FM team ultimately report?
I’m very fortunate as I’m based in a multi-tenanted building and Criteo has an IFM contract in place. Ultimately for the London office I have the final say.
My top perk at work is…
That there’s always a constant supply of crisps (spoiler alert: There is a HUGE supply of healthy choices – I just can’t help myself!), which balances out quite nicely with a discounted gym membership. And when all that crisp eating gets too much, I like to relax on a Friday afternoon with a massage in the office, or an online yoga session that’s been provided while in lockdown. It’s a hard life.
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
Going from having a dedicated FM and myself (OM) that dealt purely with the soft services to taking on the role and consolidating both elements in an extremely short period of time. Learning and adapting in this new role quickly and effectively was a challenge, but I’m grateful for the experience it’s given me.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
I have two things: although I’m very lucky at Criteo, where 80 per cent of the global WP team are female, I’d like to see more women in senior FM jobs. And I’d love to see more companies have a senior FM (at the table) instead of reporting to the CFO; FM needs to be seen as a vital role and not just a service.
Any interesting tales to tell?
I used to work for a celebrity – you had to be pretty tough-skinned, which prepared me for a job in FM as we receive a huge amount of ‘questionable’ requests!
If I wasn’t in facilities management, I’d probably be…
Travelling and working abroad! I did this for three years prior to moving to London everywhere from New Zealand to Corsica and the French Alps.
Which “FM/workplace myth” would you most like to put an end to?
That people think all we do is fix things and clean toilets! We are so much more than that. What FM has achieved with remote working in Covid-19 really does prove this.
What single piece of advice would you give to a young facilities/workplace manager starting out?
Always listen, learn and ask questions. This will give you a broad understanding of everything associated with the role. In my role as a WP manager, responsibilities range from CSR, socials and events alongside the hard services, I would certainly say communicating and collaborating with other functions is key as it helps you to understand the business and build connections across the board.
What was the weirdest day you’ve had in the office?
When I shared a lift with a hawk. She was our guest for the day, and comes once a year to try and scare off the pigeons from nesting on the roof. Being that close to a bird of prey in a small lift was pretty intense but cool!
Early bird or night owl?
Early bird! I feel that I am far more productive in the mornings; it gives me that extra time to focus and allow myself to process the day ahead (plus you get a seat on the Tube!).
What FM job in the world would you love more than anything?
Operations manager for a private island in the Caribbean… Only (half) kidding! Anywhere that I feel happy and gives me a sense of value and enjoyment in what I do.
And where would FM be an absolute nightmare?
For me, it’s really important to feel connected to every individual in the office – so working in a company that is so large you simply can’t know every single person would be difficult.
Your life outside FM mostly involves…
Catching up with friends, trying out new restaurants or hopping on a Boris Bike round London and grabbing a coffee and watching the world go by on Primrose Hill. I love to travel so planning trips away keeps me busy!
Ruby Cassin-Davies is workplace manager at the London office of Criteo