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 an investment company called Standard Life Aberdeen. I look after the operations for the Edinburgh estate.
What attracted you to FM/Workplace, and how did you get into the industry?
I started on reception for a vacant building awaiting tenants and, as it was quiet, I assisted the building manager with different tasks, taking on extra responsibilities. I loved it, so knew that this was the direction I wanted to go in.
How long have you been in your current role?
Do you see yourself predominantly as a task manager or a people manager?
Both, however, people are my passion and they get the tasks done when empowered. I manage a relatively large team in a company that’s ever evolving, so leading the team through this and supporting them is my number one priority. If they are happy the tasks take care of themselves.
Would you describe your role as predominantly operational or strategic?
My role is mainly operational. I deal with day-to-day operations and receive the strategy and vision from our UK head, which I then relay to and help implement with my team leaders.
How many people are there in your FM/Workplace team, and to whom does the FM team ultimately report?
I have nine direct reports, some of whom are team leaders. The Edinburgh workplace team is currently 34 strong. The team ultimately reports to our UK and global heads.
My top perk at work is…
The empowerment I receive from our leadership team on smarter working – I never class myself as late anymore (troubles of a commuter!) and enjoy being able to maintain a better work life balance, working from home when I can.
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
Two years ago, Standard Life Aberdeen merged, bringing together two FM teams with different approaches. I had to unite the team as one, and inherited three additional buildings to manage in our Edinburgh estate.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
More promotion of the industry, the career path and opportunities available. I don’t believe anybody at school would say, “I want to be a facilities manager”, or would even know of it to consider it a career choice.
Any interesting tales to tell?
I once tried to move a seagull that was stuck on our terrace outside the boardroom. I was making a lot of noise and interrupting important meetings. After some wrangling, it bit me on the face and flew away!
If I wasn’t in facilities management, I’d probably be…
Attempting to set up a doggy day care business!
Which “FM/Workplace myth” would you most like to put an end to?
That we are not the team you complain to, to get things fixed. It’s not just building maintenance that we do – we work hard adding value to our colleagues’ and clients’ experience.
What single piece of advice would you give to a young facilities/workplace manager starting out?
Try not to be an expert at everything; try to know a little about everything. Build strong relationships with your stakeholders and suppliers for the expert knowledge.
What was the weirdest day you’ve had in the office?
I once had to transform a large (fully stocked) storage cupboard into a presentable meeting room in three hours. I rallied up the team, and with a lot of lifting, furniture building, painting, vacuuming and waste collections, we achieved this.
Early bird or night owl?
Night owl. I love my bed and hate my alarm!
What FM/workplace job in the world would you love more than anything?
Maybe a zoo, safari or an aquarium. I would love to work with/close by animals.
And where would FM be an absolute nightmare?
A school would be my worst nightmare!
Your life outside FM mostly involves…
I have a three-year-old dog called Harley who I spend most my free time with hill walking. I enjoy going to gigs and travelling with my best friend, Mark.
Lauren Todd is workplace manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments