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, UK & Ireland at Arm. I run a team whose job it is to support and maintain environments that allow Arm employees to do their best work.
What attracted you to FM, and how did you get into the industry?
I was working as an admin manager for Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers in Vancouver, Canada. They had more than outgrown their head office and were building a new 165,000-square-foot head office and I was asked to PM the operational set-up and relocation to it. I loved it! There are so many moving parts and details to consider. Being a part of a construction project and seeing it past completion to occupation is very satisfying. From there, a career in FM took off and I went on to do a similar job for Pixar Canada.
How long have you been in your current role?
Just over three years.
Do you see yourself predominantly as a task or a people manager?
Both, but I am most invested in people. I focus on the internal and external customer service model. Looking after the end user and the person delivering that service. I’m lucky, I have a fantastic team at Arm who deliver great customer service!
Would you describe your role as predominantly operational or strategic?
Mainly operational with a keen eye towards the strategic. Arm is a large company and our Cambridge Campus keeps us all on our toes. You have to be anticipating the next move while still giving the present your full attention.
How many people are there in your FM/Workplace team, and to whom does the FM team ultimately report?
I have 12 direct reports, who make up the core workplace team, and four service contract managers who all report to me.
My top perk at work is…
We are well taken care of at Arm. I have two favourite perks – Flexpot, which is a generous sum of money we’re given each year to use toward wellbeing, personal development or charitable giving, and sabbatical, which you are eligible for after your third year.
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
FM is always busy and you are always ‘on’ . It’s only recently that I have started to allow myself to properly switch off, make time for myself and not feel guilty or stressed about it.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
FM is like creating and managing an invisible support system that no one sees, and they shouldn’t, but it would be great if it wasn’t perceived as something that ‘anyone can do’.
Any interesting tales to tell?
During an anniversary party at Pixar Canada I organised for two Canadian Mounties to come to the studio and pretend to arrest our American GM and creative director during a company meeting. They thought they were being thrown out of Canada, their faces were priceless. They caught on to the joke when we brought out the cake.
If I wasn’t in facilities management, I’d probably be…
Running an animal sanctuary on a large farm.
What single piece of advice would you give to a young facilities/workplace manager starting out?
Always be willing to think outside the box, deliver consistently exceptional customer service, look after your team and always remember how important a role FM plays in the success of a working environment.
What was the weirdest day you’ve had in the office?
The first day of lockdown in March. Arm announced we were all to work from home and, overnight, we had to figure out how to put all our buildings into hibernation mode and switch our focus from on the ground support of our colleagues to virtual support.
What FM job in the world would you love more than anything?
FM has taken me into the industrial auction industry, animation, non-profit, retail and now technology. I’m missing the confectionery industry, though, so maybe that could be next.
Your life outside FM mostly involves…
I have three dogs so I’m always walking and looking for good off-leash hikes. I spin a few times a week, cook, eat things that make me have to take another spin class, travel, read fiction and write.
Olivia Price is workplace manager UK & Ireland at Arm