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Five minutes with Robert Jackson, RICS

Robert Jackson, MENA director at Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) highlights the region's inaugural World Workplace Forum and "false expectations" in FM

The inaugural World Workplace Forum: Middle East will be held in Dubai.
The inaugural World Workplace Forum: Middle East will be held in Dubai.
Robert Jackson, RICS.
Robert Jackson, RICS.

Robert Jackson is director for Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). 

In his current role Jackson leads a team that oversees 2,000 RICS members in the UAE, and up to 4,000 across the region. 

Ahead of the inaugural World Workplace Forum: Middle East, due to be held on 18 May, 2017, Jackson speaks to ConstructionWeekOnline about the factors that spurred the event's development, and the key trends shaping service delivery in the regional FM market.

What are the key objectives of RICS and IFMA’s partnership in the Middle East?

Ultimately the collaboration is aimed at ‘professionalising’ the FM sector by delivering technical, professional and ethical standards, training and guidance as well as creating clear competency-based professional status for FM practitioners. 

Our partnership is aimed at advancing global knowledge sharing and cohesion within the FM community; expanding existing informational and networking infrastructure for members of both organisations; unifying the FM career path through both IFMA credentials and RICS qualifications; incorporating FM trends and best practices into a more comprehensive picture of the built environment; encouraging graduates and young professionals to select careers in FM; and, asserting the strategic value of FM to business in order to further elevate the profession.

The aim is to drive best practice standards into the regional FM market both at strategic FM level as well as operational facilities maintenance.

Asset owners, investors and occupiers are beginning to demand improved building performance, which in turn drives overall corporate performance whilst also preserving and maximising the capital value of built assets.

What is the composition of your audience in the Middle East?

We have provided training in asset and facility management for a range of companies in the region, including private and public sector, asset owners and clients, and service providers.

What are the principles that guided the launch of the first World Workplace Forum in the Middle East?

Attracting an international delegation of high profile senior professionals, FM experts and decision makers, the event will explore how international best practices can influence asset management strategies in the region.

In order to attract international investment and asset owners and occupiers to the region, the FM industry must be strategic and deliver real value to all relevant stakeholders [throughout] the life of the asset.

Ensuring this strategic mindset is applied to the building life cycle, from design to the actual build and maintenance, will increase value and productivity from the region’s assets.

World Workplace is IFMA’s [International Facility Management Association] flagship event in the US and the collaboration has allowed it to bring this to new markets, including the Middle East and Europe.

We believe this will become an annual must-attend event for everyone involved in the FM industry in the region.


How has response for the event been so far?

We have had significant interest from many of the key developers and services companies in the region, with registrations growing daily.

Please outline the themes and trends that will be addressed during the forum.

The event will bring together senior level FM experts, strategies and solutions in an interactive, one-day learning and networking event.

The conference will address how international best practice can have a beneficial impact on the FM industry in the region.

By differentiating between strategic FM and facilities maintenance, delegates will be able to recognise the benefits technology and skilled FM professionals can bring to an asset, which in turn creates value for all stakeholders throughout the asset life cycle.

Which markets would you say are leading FM growth in the region?

The regional FM industry is evolving and recognising the need for a strategic approach to managing assets.

The [Middle East] is starting to implement best practice from many of the more mature real estate markets such as the US and UK.
How would you say the Middle East’s FM sector is currently performing, and how do you expect this to change in the next 12 months?

To enable the region to manage its ambitious growth and the increase in asset stock effectively, stakeholders need to move towards understanding overall value creation through best practices in strategic FM.

We are seeing a progressive shift, but still far too many decisions are based on [an] FM service's ‘lowest price’.

There are false expectations that underqualified facility maintenance companies can deliver strategic FM services, and asset owners must begin to understand the significant value international best practices can create.


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