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5 minutes with ... Martin Seward-Case

Martin Seward-Case general manager, Reaction Management Services

Martin Seward-Case, General Manager, Reaction.
Martin Seward-Case, General Manager, Reaction.

What first inspired you to work in FM?
From 1998 to 2001 I was lucky enough to work with FM guru Bernard Williams as an FM consultant for British Airways Property Procurement team at London Heathrow.

One of my initial tasks was benchmarking the various FM expenditure between the types of asset classes. Very interesting as BA had a host of assets at the time — from hangars to offices — new to pre WWII.

All with very different FM requirements and costs. One of the mantra’s from my BA Procurement days was to build on the supply chains capability ‘closer to fewer for longer’. I still revert to this today as it’s fundamental we do better as an industry in this respect.

You were the chairman of RICS from 2008 to 2010. You must have seen some big changes in property and construction?
As the industry conscience we could have shouted a bit louder when it was clear things were going wrong. We were however constrained by both our own institutional guidelines as well as the accepted practice to avoid sensationalism in the UAE media.

That being said, we helped initiate the groundswell against speculators in mid 2008 and did our best to remain professional and positive during the difficult times.

We still see comments about how Dubai ran too far ahead of itself. I think we should stop beating ourselves up as an industry over this. The bottom fell out of the financial markets and Dubai happened to be a little too stretched at the time.

What’s new for your company in 2011?
We have concentrated part of our energies on serving assets that are emerging in the new Dubai market. This includes those that require RERA registration in a downward spiraling rental market. It’s all about value for money for the developer and end user.

What software can you not live without?
ITunes. We outsource to/manage FM service providers on behalf of clients. These guys all use various forms of CAFM or similar bespoke software. One of the downsides of senior management is working 12 hours a day; six days a week, before spending the evenings catching up with emails.

Hence, between meetings, grabbing some relaxing moments in the car or taxi, I listen to Lene Marlin, Jem or one of The Three Tenors.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in FM?
Spend the time buying/selling the service correctly: the more time the client and the service provider spend on detailing their respective expectations, the easier the contract will run and the greater the chance of both parties finishing the contract with a smile on their face.

Where do you see FM in five years time?
Hopefully, a lot further up the foodchain in both budget makers and public eyes. Unfortunately the FM Industry is a victim of its own success. The better we are in delivering seamless support, the less visible we become, and as such, the folk with the deep pockets tend to notice us less.

Where we are delivering quality, we all need to work on singing our own praises more loudly. Luckily through awareness in the media, more sophisticated serious developers are starting to allow for FM at the preliminary design stage.

Finally, fmME readers should use my company because…?
As a member of the Mohamed Hareb Al Otaiba Group of Companies, we have the experience to deliver property, construction and asset management consultancy services on a host of recognised projects.

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