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Inside look at facilities managers

Inside look at facilities managers

This week, we shine the spotlight on the profession of facilities management. Advances in technology have been a driver of change for the profession in recent years, requiring facilities managers (FMs) to update their skills and embrace new technology.  FMs have a range of responsibilities to juggle including management of electronic security systems, waste and recycling, HVAC systems, ensuring visitor safety and managing green star rated buildings. 

So what does it take to be a success in this profession? We spoke with Phillip Worrall, Operations Manager for Rundle Place (Adelaide’s newest retail development) to find out.    

  • What skills and personality traits are needed to excel in this role?

It really helps to have a background in maintenance of some description such as electrical or maintenance engineering.  You need to be well planned and organised to stay on top of routine tasks and required paperwork, but at the same time be level headed and able to react quickly to any emergencies that come up. I’m a Virgo, so that helps on the organisational front!

  • What role has technology played in changing the profession in recent years?

Technology has certainly made things easier. For example, I can use my smart phone to check in to the building system from home. However, you have to be willing to move with the times in this profession. Some learning on the job is always required, especially for the older generation of FMs.

  • What challenges do you face managing mixed use facilities such as Rundle Place?

Retail space and commercial space are vastly different. Unlike most FMs, I undertake tenancy coordination as part of my role. This keeps me on my toes! Retail is a finite industry and it faces many challenges at the moment. For instance, we had 6 new shop fit outs in the last year, which is quite unusual.

Managing the budget is a challenge and is particularly important to ensure our tenants maintenance fees don’t increase.  

  • How does the green star building rating affect your role?

Green star rating requires a lot of monitoring, fine-tuning and reporting. We are currently aiming for an ongoing performance Nabers rating which is slightly different than the Green star rating. In a general sense it means we have to keep things running efficiently and that we meet our energy use targets. There’s lots of reporting involved and there’s pressure there to manage it. To use an example at a very basic level, if there’s an empty floor, we make sure the lights aren’t left on overnight.

In summary, Phil says a good FM should be able to react when they need to react and plan well when they need to plan well. They need to be able to handle both emergencies and everyday organisation in a level headed manner.  People come to you when they have problems to solve, not when things are going well. This is true for many things in life, but is also true for facilities management.