An interview with Ross Abbate, managing director of Macro on FM without borders
9 October 2017 | Ross Abbate
It's been 15 years since the formation of Macro. What single change in that time has most affected how you conduct business?
FM has become more global, with clients looking to standardise services internationally. Previously FM was provided within a country or maybe even a couple of countries. Now, ever more clients are asking for regional and global tenders, and you need a global footprint to support them. This means we are now managing a global business, covering over 40 countries, delivering the same high international standards across them all. Working across borders helps us raise our game.
The future: longer or shorter contract terms, and why?
Longer contracts. As projects become bigger and more complex (geographically) more investment and time is required to mobilise and get these contracts to a steady state. So contracts are now usually a minimum of five years instead of three years. Also, clients are increasingly looking for workplace efficiencies, not simply a maintenance contract.
What do you think the typical contract in 2032 will include?
I think the future is about creating a workplace environment. FM providers in 2032 will be provided with a building and asked to create an environment to support a client's culture and objectives. They will be responsible for managing everything to deliver that environment, from energy coming into the building, to the air quality through the efficient use of space. This means working more closely with the client to offer sustainable solutions. Hopefully FMs will also have a seat at the table in 2032, working as an integral part of the client executive team.
What is the single most difficult problem facing the FM service sector in 2017?
Finding good people who fit into your own culture. A number of people move from one organisation to another within FM (it's a small world) but we are trying to grow our own teams through apprentice and graduate programmes to develop and motivate talent in-house. You need to ensure that all your teams grow at the same rate while maintaining your culture and standards.
To retain a good team, it's vital to create opportunities with either new clients or in new locations. This is one of the advantages of working across borders - we are able to transfer skills and knowledge with ease. We've also created a new portfolio structure based on vertical markets, which allows for internal growth, assisting people with promotional opportunities within the company. Macro has several team members who have been with the company for years. Our aim is to create a culture that people are proud to work for.