30 November 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Winner of Entrepreneur of the Year, Andrew Hulbert, managing director of FM firm Pareto, has said the award shows how the sector is coming out of its "comfort zone" to gain greater recognition.
The accolade from the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, now in its sixth year, aims to acknowledge "the hard work and inspiring stories of British entrepreneurs and businesses in Great Britain".
Over 3,000 applications were made this year and Hulbert was up against Broadgate Search, The Clerkenwell Brothers, Beiwei 55 Degrees Travel Ltd, The Air Agents, Halian, Skin Analytics and YR Live Ltd and YR Store Ltd.
Hulbert told FM World that the key to his win was "creating a unique company culture" that "was recognised as putting people at the heart of the business".
He said: "I've ensured Pareto has a 50 per cent female to male ratio at management level and an ever-decreasing pay disparity. To support this, I've also initiated a 'young female manager' mentoring scheme, which is led by myself, to give FMs starting their careers a place to get great advice and voice any concerns, without dealing with outdated bureaucratic processes."
Hulbert, who previously worked for facilities management company Bilfinger, started Pareto three and a half years ago from his bedroom and, the company has now grown into a £12 million business that employs approximately 87 staff.
He said: "Being a risk taker with an entrepreneurial spirit, leading from the front and changing the rhetoric that shrouds the old-fashioned, operationally driven, low-strategic perception industry has been an experience.
"However, as an industry we've got to consider the age gap within FM as the ticking time bomb. Half of all people within FM are above 45 years old, and the baton needs to be handed to the millennials.
"We need to be able to build services for these incredible workspaces that they are delivering services to. And who better to serve millennials than millennials themselves? The future of the industry starts with a will to drive a more innovative, strategically aligned mission to deliver exceptional workplaces."
It also signalled how the sector was increasingly looking outside of itself more. He said: "I think FM has always been a bit inward looking. We've always been great at talking about FM to the FM sector. We don't always venture too far out of that comfort zone. When we put Pareto forward for this award one of the key aims was to promote FM on a wider scale to UK plc and highlight it's critical importance."
He added that the award recognised "the size, scale and significance of the FM industry and the opportunity it has to drive strategic goals and productivity for all businesses" and "it demonstrates the continued growing relevance of FM as a great career and the opportunity the sector has to strategically shape the organisations it serves".