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Walk the FM way

by CW Guest Columnist on Jan 4, 2013

Lauren Backhouse
Lauren Backhouse

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For the majority of professionals within the facilities management industry, it wasn’t a career path they decided upon initially.

Many professionals in the MENA region have come from a diverse background of multiple channels, which is why many look to become a part of the ever-growing sustainable market; for diversity and suitability from a required skill set.

Whether candidates are technically qualified (ie mechanical or electrical engineers), or soft services and maintenance experts, business development professionals or even ex-military, FM can offer long-term career opportunities. It can offer a change of direction from their initial career path, whilst including and utilising their expertise to date.

With the complex and iconic developments this region has to offer, the sustainability of the facilities management professional and the prestige on offer is extremely attractive.

We have seen the construction market rise in 2005 and then come to a standstill in 2008. Within FM there has always been a market for continuous career growth; it’s an industry that literally never sleeps.

Candidates in the region have had great success in their career progression: technical FM experts have diversified in to the sales side of the industry, winning integrated FM contracts and managing key accounts.

FM has a lot to do with personality and we have seen a change in the perception of the facilities manager; clients now prefer to award contracts to those that can install the mechanics as well as maintain it, which really opens up the industry to a large part of the construction career market.

Having placed a large quantity of candidates throughout my five years of recruitment in the MENA region, I can safely say that over the past 18 months, it’s rare to have the same job profile twice. When head hunting candidates, I can source from various disciplines within the construction industry and look more for specific skill sets.

For example, a candidate that has had extensive military experience would now be considered a great option in operations for some of the larger mixed-use buildings in the region; this is due to both the security aspect and managing the capacity of tourists the development now attracts.

Financially, there is still development to be met in the industry. FM providers need to realise that whilst there is saving initially for clients by having a multi -skilled facilities manager, they, as the employer, need to meet market rate and remain competitive, in line with the candidate’s original career path.

For example, a technical facilities manager with an extensive MEP engineering background has higher salary expectations than a candidate who has more limited exposure to the MEP engineering side — there is a difference. I have seen candidates decline an FM role because of this, which can discourage a strong technical expert who would be a real asset to any FM business.

Overall, I would strongly recommend the facilities management industry. If you’re seeking diversity and a sustainable long term career, then this is an industry that will increase your development potential.

About the author
Lauren Backhouse is principal consultant - facilities, operations and property management, Randstad MENA