Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > Mum, Dad, I want to be a facilities manager when I leave school

Mum, Dad, I want to be a facilities manager when I leave school

Just what did a boss do? I wasn’t too sure, but had decided that I was going to be a boss when I left school. It wasn’t my first choice, that had proved impractical, and my second choice was vetoed by my parents, but my Mum wanted me to be a City Gent, heading off in pin striped suit with a briefcase and rolled brolly every morning; that seemed to sound like a boss and so that was what I would be.

But, again, what did they do? The people my parents worked for were captains of industry; one a director at Beecham’s (long before Smith & Kline turned up), another had his name, and that of his partner, on many domestic appliances in kitchens around the country and another was the Admiral in charge of the Royal Naval College for example.

Any of those suited me, but to become one surely you had to know what they did? TV and films were not a lot of help, but then along came The ‘Plane Makers and its sequel The Power Game. There Sir John Wilder made fortunes, lost them and remade them, he had the big office, the big car, was married to a smart and pretty wife (and had a smart and pretty mistress) and got involved in all sorts of Machiavellian dealings with rivals and colleagues alike. Sounded good to me; where did I sign up?

The reality of course was somewhat different as I was to find when I got there. I suppose that the first time that I got close to the fictional Sir John’s life (by the way where is my knighthood?) was the time that I was de facto MD of a business unit turning over around £130M pa. I had the office, the car, the smart attractive wife and the Machiavellian stuff and loved pretty much every minute of it, but then, as with Sir John, mergers and takeovers saw me on the move.

And that is how I got, in the real sense, into Facilities Management. I didn’t set out to be in FM, and have joked that I’d been thrown out of everywhere else. Not quite true, but I had worked in finance, operations, sales, purchasing and IT and hold professional qualifications in both of the latter disciplines, so I wasn’t there just marking time. As a buyer I passed exams in accounting, economics and commercial law amongst others

One of the things that I brought to FM was that wide business background because by then I had realised that what I wanted to be was not a boss so much as a general manager; a businessman if you like. That childhood image of the boss was really where I ended up.

In facilities management a lot has been done to raise the profile of the job, and it is great to see so many young professionals amongst our ranks. BIFM have done a great job in moving things forward and maybe we are close to the point where FM can be a clear career choice for school leavers.

I, like many, came into FM as something of a generalist. If the next generation of FMs can be specialists that is great, but we must not lose sight of the need for FMs to have a wide business education, because it is the world of commerce that FM serves. We need to be able to speak their language and to be comfortable in their world, because that is how we can ensure that they trust and respect what we can contribute.

 

 

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