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Facilities Manager

Facilities Managers make buildings work.

Facilities Managers come from all walks of life, and come into Facilities Management from all professions.  They also do a very wide range of things and work in every single sector you can think of.   They are normally responsible for setting up the operation of a building and making sure they operate efficiently and effectively.  They do this by delivering internal and external maintenance, space management and energy management.  They also organise and provide services such as cleaning, catering, reception and security.  Some Facilities Managers work very closely with construction teams and are involved in the whole process of building.  Others work with Landlords and Agents to also manage lets and tenancies in buildings.

But whatever the scope of the role, without the Facilities Manager buildings would very quickly become unusable. You will succeed in Facilities Management if you are organised, logical, like interacting with people and can plan ahead yet think on your feet.  No two days are ever the same.

Find out more about Facilities Management

Story of a real Facilities Manager…

World Domination Plans

I grew up on a northern pit estate in the 1980’s.  At the time it was a very political environment, peaking with the miners’ strike in 1985, and my Dad was a shop steward. I have a strong sense of social justice and I really wanted to change the world.  Hence after a slightly confused set of A levels (Maths, English and Economics) I decided to read Politics.  Dreams of world domination soon faded when I left University and realised that I probably wasn’t going to be Prime Minister any time soon and I would have to get a full time job in some other field.  Mostly due to the fact that it was a late start time (10.00 am) and that I liked working with numbers, I fell into managing betting shops.   Although a slightly off beat career choice, the job did give me an excellent grounding in running a very dynamic business and dealing with demanding customers – and it really polished up my mental arithmetic (all done  in the head with only a calculator, no computers in those days).  These skills I still use to good effect to this very day.

Time to get serious

My first child, a lovely little boy came along when I was only 23, closely followed by my darling daughter 18 months or so later.  Having two little dependents sharpen the focus somewhat.  Being a betting shop manager was not particularly family friendly and I was now determined to make the most of my excellent state education and sort out my career.  I ended up taking a role with my local Council as an Estates Manager.  This job entailed looking after around 2000 social housing properties, and it was a very challenging but rewarding role.  It turned out that the bit I enjoyed the most was looking after the buildings (repairs, maintenance and building/refurbishment projects).  So when a job came along to work with the Council’s professional services contractor, Serco, I jumped at the chance.  At Serco, my career really took off.  I started with them as a Contract Manager of a small combined professional construction services and Facilities Management contract. I knew a fair bit about facilities management but learned a lot (quickly) about how construction works, and found that I really enjoyed both disciplines.   I had a variety of roles with Serco and they really invested in developing me.  My final job with them was on a very complicated PFI project, at the National Physical Laboratory, after which I somewhat reluctantly decided to move on.

Making Director

I stayed in PFI as I really enjoyed the variety of working between construction and facilities management, and went on to my first Director level job, working for Aspire Defence Services on the biggest accommodation PFI in the UK at the time.  This was a really exciting and rewarding role working with the Army, building and maintaining new barracks for them.  But ambition got the better of me again and after a few years I moved onto Interserve FM, where I had a number of roles mostly looking after multiple facilities management contracts.  I missed construction involvement but I did a lot of innovation and transformation work around technology and people change.   Towards the end of my time with Interserve I was incorporated as a Chartered Facilities Management Surveyor by the RICS. I was one of the very first people to do this and becoming a Chartered Surveyor was a long held ambition for me, as I really wanted to have a professional designation like my other construction colleagues.   Shortly after I achieved this I was offered the chance to be Managing Director for BAM Facilities Management Ltd, part of the BAM Construct UK team.  The promotion to MD, combined with the opportunity to work for such a fantastic construction business as BAM was too good to pass up on.

Back to the builders

So now, I am Managing Director of BAM Facilities Management Ltd, a role I have held for just over a year now.  I have quite a lot of responsibility and spend most of my time thinking about the future of the business and talking to new clients.  Occasionally though I still do a bit of real Facilities Management and one of the technical areas that I am really interested in is Building Information Modelling.   I had never heard of it until I came to BAM, but I am now a complete convert.  Facilities Management actually involves a lot of data management, analysis and measurement, and I think that BIM has great potential to revolutionise the way we handle building data. So I am personally very excited about the new possibilities for the Facilities Manager within the industry. It seems that through BIM, Facilities Management is finally being seen as central to the construction process, which of course it should have been all along (although I would think that I guess).

So far it has been a fantastically varied and rewarding career for me, and I have had the privilege to provide great workplaces to teachers, health care workers, soldiers, diplomats and  scientists (to name a few).  I believe that BIM will open up a new world of opportunity for all Facilities Managers and enable us to do an even better job of making buildings work for their occupants.  I hope that soon it will be a career of first choice for anyone thinking about coming into the construction industry.

Facilities Manager

Kath Fontana

Managing Director

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