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Interview with David Cannon FIoD: BIFM's 1000th BIFM member to achieve certified status with BIFM, gaining CBIFM credentials.
David Cannon CBIFM, Senior Executive Advisor for Strategic Business Development became our 1000th BIFM member to achieve certified status with BIFM in 2015.
We interviewed him to find out more about his career in Facilities Management.
Can you give a brief history of your career and how it has led to your current role?
"I joined the Royal Navy at the young age of 16 and there I was provided with the highest and superlative level of training and professionalism that has aided my achievements to date. In the Navy, I worked as an Electrical Engineering Mechanician/Artificer - maintaining, repairing, operating complex sophisticated equipment which enabled me to deal with anything in each professional role.
Each person at the appropriate rank was trained and received 'on job training' and practical experience. Examinations both written and oral had to be achieved with time served before being selected for the next promotion. There was no easy path to promotion and each had the same opportunity. I travelled to over 100 countries around the world, and met and communicated with many different people. It is a truly wonderful and diverse world we live in, but there are striking similarities across all cultures and we share a common bond to generate growth and wealth, with due regard to social responsibility.
Having spent a year at sea, serving in the 1st Gulf Conflict, Operation Desert Storm and spending 15 years in military service, I decided that I had spent too much time away from the family and that I needed to experience some normality in life. I had one interview and joined Bank of America under a service contract with DSTS, and learnt about Building Services and Facility Management over the ensuing nine years. I realised that I had been conducting a similar role in the Royal Navy, given that a ship is very much like a building; although I know one is dynamic and the other static! Each use professional staff, have utilities, critical and non-critical main plant, have services and systems, detailed procedures, operations and maintenance routines, security, catering and cleaning, budgets, projects, and of course end users and customers. The team bonding is immense and each highly trained, but all in all it's not so different!
After two TUPE transfers, D&S (Drake and Scull Technical Services) to JCL (Johnson Controls Ltd) and to JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle) I had again served my apprenticeship, but in civilian street! By this time I had moved up in the chain to Head of FM and Engineering EMEA for JLL at Bank of America. During this period I noticed so many different things in FM. One major problem, was the lack of consistency in the levels of personnel, neither by experience, education levels nor by professional qualifications and certification, especially in Facility Management. Training was ad-hoc and small budgets were allocated. This led me to join BIFM to seek solutions and recommendations. There were of course some outstanding people that had so much more to offer than at the position they were in. Over time this changed and each moved upwards and onwards, achieving the desired level of management. I completed the Y2K project and again travelled to many countries and reported into the UK and USA. This was a quality business with high profile business leaders. Awards followed for the team in terms of PM and FM and I also received the first global Critical Services award from the Bank of America.
HQ in Hanover Square, was my next step in London to support and deliver critical FM services to other clients.
I also worked as Director of Services (UK) at Microsoft with CITEX in a tremendously demanding and interesting role, rotating around MSN Reading, X-Box London and various support functions in Edinburgh and the rest of the UK. I do remember receiving at least 135 e-mails a day from those wonderful and demanding customers and hoped our 'service with soul' attitude and GEM (Going the Extra Mile), reached the levels of service delivery expected by them!
Utlising the skills I had learnt in the Royal Navy and within the FM and Engineering services sector, I left the UK in 2002 to work in Dubai. This was a profound and dramatic change with a six day working week which involved dealing with some of the largest projects in the Middle East/GCC at that time, working with EMAAR, through EMRILL. I worked on Burj Khalifa (formally Burj Dubai) with the Project Architects SOM (for a short period in concept stages), with Project Managers and sub consultants, at the flagship Dubai Marina (HOK), Emaar Towers, The Greens and The Lakes amongst many more. I spent some time working on the Jumeirah Beach Project. During this period I learnt so much about development, project management, architecture and main contracting. I did find that professional qualifications of each of the above were generally very high. I also presented and taught Property and Facility Management with Building Services Engineering to many business and personnel by way of forums and courses.
My next role was GM of Operations and deputy Development Director in Qatar for the superlative 'The Pearl Qatar'(most glamourous address in the ME) project, a 3.5M Sq ft of high quality real estate Island, valued at around 35 billion QR with high rise towers, hotels, shopping malls, marinas and villas, supported by huge complex services and systems. The role was vast and involved many meetings on piling cement, revetment, marinas, hotels, utlities to the Oracle ERP.
After 3 years, I was approached by a Qatari Kuwaiti consortium to start a development company. QIQ was established to deliver another world class project (Urjuan) of some 5.3M sq.ft, valued at around 70 billion QR. The company was to take all developments to deliver some QR. 200 billion world of projects.
Next was the creation of WASEEF through the amalgamation of three existing companies by providing the business strategic direction, transformation and leadership as CEO. To become the largest PM and FM Company operating in Qatar was another achievement which I am extremely proud of!
More recently, I also spent time taking a 19 year old Government Kuwait listed Real Estate Asset Management company (some 600 managed buildings including residential, shopping malls, retail and commercial offices operated in both PM and FM) through a rapid and dynamic change management program (18 months) to bring the company and its staff, systems and processes to modern day operations.
What's your current role?
"My current role is the development of strategic business opportunities and initiatives by bringing businesses together to create further revenue streams. The transformation of those companies are achieved by the introduction of new and current products and services which maximise capabilities of each increasing production and supply chain improvement, leading to extended geographical reach. Decisions are then taken on the effective use of stakeholder management techniques and principles, to ensure that cultural diversity is managed appropriately; meeting stakeholder's expectations and ensuring business functions are tuned to the appropriate market.
My role also establishes effective communication of brand identity, namely the companies' vision, mission, marketing of values and the core management strategy. These in turn make for quality and enhanced communication with all primary and secondary stakeholders.
As well as this, my role provides the extension of products to the market place and the increased delivery of service levels. These culminate in increased focus upon operating efficiencies by removing unnecessary wastage and optimisation of services."
What does that entail?
"Working with fellow business leaders to identify the needs of both the customers and the business. This leads to conceptualised ideas and new initiatives that will meet all necessary criteria to address the customers' needs. The change management program is then utilised to ensure the alignment of business functions to drive, inculcate and deliver selected initiatives and introduce products and services to the market place smoothly and effectively."
About Achieving CBIFM status
Why was it important to you to achieve Certified, CBIFM, status with BIFM?
"I believe it is absolutely essential to achieve CBIFM. The level of Facility Management in the 80/90's and early 2000's was not at the standard it is of today in the UK. BIFM set the standards which are critical in the communication, development and training of facility management and staff to ensure consistency of grading for competences of individuals. This provides confidence to companies and clients alike that those certified professionals have the capabilities to deliver and maintain high quality services."
What values and benefits do you expect to gain from BIFM certified membership?
"To maximise the information available and utilise the standard practices and procedures combined with training and further development by BIFM, to enhance values and benefits received by customers and primary and secondary stakeholders."
How will CBIFM support you in your current role and career?
"I shall use BIFM in all of my future roles to support the business and be the chosen partner to deliver shared benefits across the businesses by incorporating best practice FM to certify the development and delivery of the difference in service levels."
Would you recommend achieving CBIFM status to others and why?
"Yes, to move forward in life and your chosen professional careers, individuals must aspire to each level of certification which will bring strong benefits to both employee and employer alike."
What benefits are you looking forward to utilising as a BIFM member?
"Attending events, learning new ideas, sharing information and leveraging off the professional members to seek out and explore new opportunities. I am also looking to become a fellow and contribute more formally to the success of BIFM globally."
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