Career Ladder talks to Tivoli Group’s Chief Operating Officer

Q: What first attracted one to employed in FM, did you have much knowing of the profession?

I initially trained being an accountant and was seeking to relocate to the North West in 2000 whenever a position came up for a Finance Manager doing work for an organization called Parkman. They merged with Mouchel and became section of Kier subsequently.

Q: How did you progress through the profession to your present role?

Parkman was a fascinating proving ground! Although I was in Finance mostly, the company experienced plenty of change in the 3 or 4 years I was there – a management buy out, flotation, an acquisition and ultimately the merger between themselves and Mouchel then. Then i joined Mitie as their Head of Finance for the Northern Cleaning division.

Following 3 years, I was offered the positioning of Finance Director for the cleaning division on an interim basis working largely in Bristol, becoming Commercial Director for the division, and taking on the duty for all of the partnership management of the large national accounts, combined with transport, retail, waste, landscaping and pest sectors. That’s where I started to know very well what good FM businesses could deliver truly, and the pitfalls of so what can fail.

After half of a decade for the reason that position, I moved right into a combined group role doing work for Suzanne Baxter, the Mitie CFO at the proper time who used my experience in finance and operations to resolve business “problems”. It had been all very interesting, but I needed direct ownership/control of a small business which explains why ultimately, once the opportunity at Tivoli arrived, it resonated using what I wanted to accomplish really.

Q: What perhaps you have found probably the most challenging experiences employed in FM?

I’d say it’s the unravelling of so what can be termed “onerous contracts” and making them commercially viable. There’s never a ‘one size fits all’ solution, however the resolution comes from a variety of restructuring resources invariably, commercial negotiations, and good sense from both ongoing parties. Generally, this gets things on the right track back. However there have a been several occasions when every one of the above just doesn’t work, so getting a real solution to exit a contract without impacting your client and probably moreover, the staff who focus on the ground, could be challenging.

Q: What perhaps you have found most satisfying about employed in the sector?

For me personally it’s seeing progress and resolving problems. In 2012 back, Mitie had a big financial services contract that has been on the brink of venturing out to tender. Your client needed savings, therefore i and the dedicated team met using them on a weekly basis to create ideas and changes that could save them around 6-7 % on the contract.

Q: Are you currently an associate of any FM association or body and when so what benefits do you consider they offer?

Tivoli is really a person in the British Association of Landscaping Industries (BALI). Sharing ideas, experiences and best practice is invaluable. I still retain my ACMA qualifications personally, which I’ve found invaluable and contains allowed me to bridge the gap between “operational” and “financial” camps.

Q: What qualities do you consider are most necessary for an effective career in FM?

A few things really – anyone who would like to be a success must be “bombproof” and also have an capability to juggle multiple things simultaneously. Secondly, there’s always days when everything appears to go wrong and you also want to go back home and hide away, day nevertheless, you have to have the gumption to obtain up the next, dust yourself down and again start.

Q: What has changed about your task role because the COVID-19 crisis? E.g. home working, furloughed, redeployed?

The main section of my job is among the most frequency of communication with my direct team, and ensuring they remain safe and they aren’t experiencing “study fatigue”. I can’t stress enough the significance of staying alert to the changing nature of challenges for several employees, whether that’s childcare/shielding issues, finding places to home based, or the easy insufficient face-to-face contact just. This year all those issues attended up, year which in all honesty weren’t significant considerations this time around last.

Q: What’s your organisation doing to guarantee the wellbeing of staff – whether working from home or time for the workplace?

In addition to the obvious stuff, we’ve produce some creative solutions such as for example buying cheap cars to check out mobile teams around where we couldn’t socially distance in crew cab vans. Moreover, we’ve set up a variety of support resources for individuals who are struggling with the items I mentioned earlier, that is done on a confidential basis via outsourced professional providers. We’re a sector that’s connected with being truly a bit “gritty” and “tough”, but even probably the most resilient workers have problems with lows so it’s important our people have usage of this sort of support to obtain them through these a down economy.

Q: Can you believe the pandemic has highlighted the important role of the FM sector and what areas can you see because so many key?

I’m bound to spotlight green spaces needless to say! Through the entire pandemic our teams on the floor have certainly seen the parks and green spaces we service being occupied to a lot better extent than previously. We’ve received some fantastic feedback about our work, so I’d hope in small part we’ve helped to help make the lockdowns a bit more bearable for everyone.

Q: What advice can you give to someone getting into the profession now?

Jump involved with it – especially if you need variety in your working life and so are ready to do the “hard yards”. I’ve seen some of the most amazing places round the UK, presented awards with Jack Whitehall, and met some humbling people in doing this genuinely. Day in day trip the commitment of individuals in FM never does not impress me.

Q: Which of one’s achievements are you currently most proud of throughout your career?

It’s fair to state, my role at Tivoli and seeing the continuing business develop within the last 2 yrs has been amazing. The team we’ve here is continuing to grow so much over that point – both with regards to knowledge and the direction they conduct themselves and operate. I’m staggered by the progress we’ve made up to now genuinely, and am getting excited about welcoming our colleagues from Sodexo HS in to the fold in February 2021 following our recent acquisition.

Q: What can you predict may be the main changes to the FM sector post pandemic?

We’re a resilient bunch in FM – our raison d’etre would be to solve problems on a regular basis, but I’m sure none folks could have expected what we’re going right through now. The major change I see will there be will be a variety of ways of working, with an increase of emphasis placed on staff’s work/life balance where possible – I really believe that’s mostly of the positives to have emerge from the pandemic. Let’s hope 2021 sees the ultimate end of it, and we can reach normal back.