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60 Seconds With...Martin Pickard
BIFM's Lifetime Achievement Award is arguably the Institute's most prestigious accolade, celebrating distinctive and exemplary contributions to the profession by honouring those who have made a significant and recognised impact on facilities management over the course of their career.
With the deadline for entries due to close on 30 June, here our 2015 winner Martin Pickard, a senior FM consultant and founding principal of The FM Guru, reflects on his distinguished FM career and shares what accepting this most highly respected and significant of gongs meant to him.
Q. What was your reaction when you found out you had won the Lifetime Achievement Award?
A. I was extremely surprised and flattered. The list of previous winners includes such eminent establishment notables, I was humbled to be placed among their number.
Q. What did winning the Lifetime Achievement Award mean to you?
A. I consider it the ultimate honour as the recognition and validation of everything I've tried to achieve in my 48 years in facilities management as a practitioner, trainer, writer, volunteer and advocate.
Q. What did you do to celebrate your win?
A. As the award was so unexpected I was driving that night and my wife wasn't with me, so celebrations had to wait to the next day when we opened some champagne at home.
Q. How has winning the Lifetime Achievement Award impacted on your career?
A. This award is for those whose career has already reached its peak, although I have no intention of fully retiring for some years. I've certainly taken a few more bookings to speak at conference and seminars in the wake of the publicity.
Q. What made you choose FM as a career?
A. I started in a facilities role straight out of school working in a mail room. At that stage, I don't think it even was a career. As I progressed, I grew to love the variety of activity and opportunity FM offers to make a contribution to people, organisations and society.
Q. What do you wish you'd known about the industry before you joined?
A. If I'd known the complexity, challenge and excitement that lay ahead I might never have left the mail room!
Q. What does it take to be successful in FM?
A. There's a foundation level of technical knowledge that is essential to perform as an FM, but real success comes to those who work hardest to understand their customers and use their FM skills to serve their needs and wants, paying attention to both the detail and the big picture.
Q. What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
A. Throughout my FM career, the best part has always been the opportunity to meet and learn from so many amazing people, from the cleaners, engineers and other service professionals who make FM a reality, to the students, facilities managers and clients I have been privileged to work with over the years.
Q. What aspects of your job didn't you expect?
A. I never anticipated the level of engagement with the international community of facilities managers that now exists. We began occasional interaction with our American peers by the end of the 1970s but the impact of social media technology has been phenomenal, leading to daily engagement with FM professionals in every corner of the world.
Q. What are your predictions for the FM industry in 2017?
A. I think that industry players are still recovering from the actions they took in the wake of the 2008 recession and we will see yet more repositioning over the rest of the year as they adapt to the new economic climate. The FM profession is also in a state of flux and will continue to evolve as it always has.
Q. Describe yourself in three words.
A. Facilities Management Evangelist.
Q. What was your first job?
A. A post room assistant at Post Office Headquarters.
Q. Who's influenced your career most and why?
A. I have been very fortunate to have many first-class mentors and role models over the years. Great managers can teach you lessons that last a lifetime. The most influential for me was Alan White, who was the property director at BT. He gave me tremendous support and helped me to really understand the positive contribution that property and facilities management can make to an organisation. That has been the central tenet in my FM philosophy ever since.
Q. What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
A. You have two ears and one mouth and should use them in that proportion.
Q. What's the skill you'd most like to have?
A. I have huge admiration for those practical facilities people who are skilled with their hands and tools. I may be a black belt in PowerPoint but it takes me half an hour to change a plug.
Q. What's on your desk?
A. Very little. My laptop, mobile phone, voice recorder and camera are always with me when I'm out talking with customers and staff, touring facilities and meeting people. You can't do FM from a desk.
Q. What are you passionate about?
A. The need to raise the profile of facilities management and its enormous contribution to business, the economy and society. Our professional institutes, industry leaders, trade media and high profile influencers need to work much harder at collaborating on that mission.
Q. Who's your business hero?
A. I have huge admiration for business leaders for whom corporate social responsibility is no PR driven box ticking exercise but simply the way they run their business. Such heroes include John Bird, now Baron Bird, who created The Big Issue which has done so much to show how a business model can be applied to attack the evil of poverty in modern society.
Q. Describe your perfect day away from work.
A. A morning's golf and an afternoon watching football, followed by dinner at a good restaurant with my beautiful wife and daughter. When I do retire, I want more days like this.
Q. What's your greatest work achievement?
A. I established The FM Guru in 2003 with the mission 'to provide advice, support and inspiration to those involved in the management of facilities'. My greatest satisfaction comes from the feedback I get when that mission has been achieved. Thousands of facilities professionals have attended my classes or speeches over the years and my FM Mindmap and other tools have been translated and used all over the world. That make me very proud.
Q. What's your favourite quote/motto?
A. John Timpson, another hero, runs his highly successful business for the benefit of his staff and customers following the motto: 'kindness is good for business'.
Q. What's the best/worst quality in a leader?
A. I think the leaders who have created the most successful businesses are those who follow the 'leader as servant' model. This is especially true in facilities where listening to your people and supporting, trusting and investing in them is the only way to ensure sustainable success.
Q. What can't you live without?
A. As a consultant, business owner and information junkie, my number one tool is my iPhone. I was involved in the launch of the first mobile phones in the UK back in the 1980s and our CEO predicted a future with universal access to knowledge. That visions is right here in my hand.
Q. What are your career ambitions?
A. I hope to find more ways to raise the profile of FM with government and business, to encourage young professionals to stay and grow in our discipline, and to bring our profession and industry closer together in support of our common goals.
Full details on how to nominate someone for this year's Lifetime Achievement Award 2017 can be found on the BIFM Awards website here. Nominations in the Lifetime Achievement category are free.
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