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60 Seconds With...BIFM chairman Stephen Roots

14-03-17, 09:14

As a long-time advocate of all things FM, Stephen Roots stepped into the role of BIFM chairman in January this year having previously served as deputy chairman under his predecessor Julie Kortens.

Having recently welcomed two new members to the BIFM Board following our recent election, we challenged him to answer a series of quick fire questions to discover why he is so passionate about facilities management, what it takes to be a successful FM and what his hopes are for the future of the profession.

Q. What made you choose FM as a career?

A. Like many others, I didn?t choose FM as a career. I started my professional life as a Quantity Surveyor working on measured term contracts in the mid 1990s and then was appointed as Regional Facilities Manager for the North West Employment Service portfolio when the contract was won by Atkins FM. This was my first experience of soft FM and it was certainly a steep learning curve!

Q. What do you wish you'd known about the industry before you joined?

A. Just how diverse the industry is and how it has so many touch points in all organisations. When I first started practicing as a FM, the key drivers were service delivery (which is obviously still relevant) and space management. As I?ve progressed, the focus has changed from space to technology and is now moving towards people.

Q. What does it take to be successful in FM?

A. Being able to listen to customers and stakeholders and then take those issues and create innovative solutions that add real value.

Q. What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

A. I?m really lucky in that I work with many different clients in both the public and private sectors. The opportunity to experience changes and improvements in working practices, and then analysing how these can adapted to bring best practice to a completely different sector, means that I never stop learning. In respect of my BIFM role, the best aspect is the opportunity to give something back to the industry.

Q. What aspects of your job didn't you expect?

A. That the vast majority of the FM community is always willing to share best practice, help and support one another. If you come across an issue that you have never experienced before, there?s always someone in your network who will know the answer, or know someone who does.

Q. What are your predictions for the FM industry in 2017?

A. The role of FM is continually evolving and I think this coming year is going to be very much about not just maintaining buildings but looking at how we can provide further innovations to support customer?s core activities. Workplace productivity and the impact FM can have upon it will be further pushed up the agenda, thanks to research insights such as The Stoddart Review, and how organisations can implement an environment that promotes efficiency without having to undergo considerable refurbishment or remodelling of their space.

Q. Describe yourself in three words.

A. Positive, considerate, listener

Q. What was your first job?

A. My family had a haulage business when I was younger and I used to help out at weekends and school holidays washing HGVs, making the tea and teaching new drivers how to rope and sheet a load - all for 10 per day! My first ?proper? job after I left university was for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as a temporary administration officer auditing set-a-side claims from farm estates. It wasn?t until late 1995 that the recession of the time came to an end and I began work as a graduate QS for Faithful & Gould.

Q. Who's influenced your career most and why?

A. I've worked with some fantastic individuals over the last 20 years, but Les Stephenson and Dean Bennett gave me my first break in the FM industry and helped instil in me a real sense of professionalism, which I hope I still carry today.

Q. What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

A. When you are with a client, listen to what they have to say. Let them be the major contributor to the conversation.

Q. What's the skill you'd most like to have?

A. I am so envious when I see music being played live. I?d have loved to be able to play the guitar.

Q. What's on your desk?

A. I always keep a pad of scrap paper to jot down ideas whilst I?m talking, a picture of my children, my coffee cup (the biscuits are kept in the drawer!) and my iPad.

Q. What are you passionate about?

A. Enabling people to realise their potential. The greatest buzz I get is when I see someone I have helped go on to do great things.

Q. Who's your business hero?

A. Richard Branson has to be admired for what he has achieved and how Virgin is now one of the world?s most recognised brands. His ability to accept that you have to fail at times along your journey, and that you don?t learn to walk by following rules but by trying and trying, falling over and learning from your mistakes.

Q. Describe your perfect day away from work.

A. With two children under the age of 10, a perfect day would start with a lie-in! But then packing the car with the dog and the family and driving over to the North Wales coast, a long walk along the beach, a decent pub lunch and then the kids falling asleep on the drive home is hard to beat.

Q. What's your greatest work achievement?

A. Being elected by my peers to serve as BIFM chairman is pretty much up there, but I always take pride when a client acts upon my advice and implements something which sometimes may be seen as a major step towards a new FM strategy.

Q. What's your favourite quote/motto?

A. ?You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say yourself, ?I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along?. You must always do the thing you think you cannot do.? ? Eleanor Roosevelt

Q. What's the best/worst quality in a leader?

A. The best quality is being able to show that you trust and value your team, the worst quality is those who use fear to implement their instructions.

Q. What can't you live without?

A. Obviously, my family, but if I lost or broke my iPad, I would be gutted!!

Q. What are your career ambitions?

A. As BIFM chairman, I want to build on the fantastic work done by Julie Kortens over the last 2-3 years and help the Institute to maintain its position as the definitive voice in the FM industry and to be the first-choice professional body for those working in the FM environment. From a personal perspective, I?d like to continue working with stakeholders developing innovative solutions for their businesses that add value and provide the best possible image of FM delivery.

 
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