Chairman's Blog

Welcome to my BIFM Blog, my aim is to blog once a week and I hope to give you a really good perspective of my role as chair. In my blog, I will keep you up to date with the things I am doing each week and include links to stories and information that you may find interesting as well. Please feel free to respond to my blog and I will try to answer as many of your comments as possible.
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All change

02-03-12, 07:49

It was an important day for BIFM Thursday as the new Chair and Deputy of the BIFM board were announced and the new chair and deputy of members council elected. It is great to have the certainty of who the new chair is so I can start a thorough hand over for my remaining months in office. Equally know this is not a downwards slope and I still have a lot to achieve over the next four months. Ismena and I have worked together at BIFM for a number of years, this continuity is important and I am sure Ismena will build on foundations with her own ideas, ways of working and styles. Joining Ismena as deputy is Liz Kentish who many of you will know, I recall Liz and I talking a few years ago when Liz first chaired a committee and its no surprise she has taken her skills and passion to reach such a position so quickly.

My words of wisdom are that I hope they continue to be their own people, as chair you have to take on board a lot of opinion, views and ideas much of which comes with vested interest then do what is right for BIFM and its members. Secondly two years is an incredibly short time and I would argue that you are best qualified to be chair at the point of departure when you have two years experience and knowledge, its also important †with such a short term to get stuck in straight away. Thirdly it can be very easy to get sucked in to operational issues, leave this to the great team at Bishops Stortford, firstly its not practical to take this on and secondly that?s what they are there for.

There will be many challenges over the next few years for our new post holders to address, we continue to operate in a difficult market, I still see a skills gap and there is much for us to do in education still. As a profession I also feel we have broken out of traditional facilities operations and we take on much more for our businesses, BIFM needs to recognise that and change accordingly too in time. One of the strengths of BIFM has been its measured approach, however we have recognised a need to be more agile and we must embrace new things more quickly and react accordingly whilst also not chasing the latest fashion without due diligence

Its really been all change the last few weeks and I was pleased to announce the appointment of Gareth Tancred as our new CEO, Gareth has been fulfilling the role on an interim basis since November and as an institute we are already benefitting from his approach. However it was important that a robust process was followed so the board tasked our remuneration committee to draw up a people specification and job description which was benchmarked in the marketplace. In the past BIFM has been accused of acting slowly or not acting at all and I was keen that we acted quickly but that process was followed. After all we still operate in a difficult market place and having certainty around this key position is essential in the view of the board and myself. The relationship between CEO and Chairman is key and im pleased to report that Gareth and I have a great understanding of the way each other work and I hope this continues with the new chair.

Spending time at BIFM ?S head office in Bishops Stortford also reveals much about our new ways of working. Whilst there is still plenty of work to do we are seeing many positives which was capped off for me in the last few weeks with great member growth. I get a great sense of what can †be achieved by the team and hope we can keep this on track.

It was recently suggested to me that there was a perception that board members could be ?self serving?, whilst a little disappointed at this I guess we have a job to do in relaying to members and stakeholders what the job entails. For starters none of the non exec board members are paid and in some cases they don?t even claim expenses. As a minimum board members will spend around 10 days at board meetings, inductions and strategy days and I expect them to attend important events like our conference, agm, members day and key exhibitions. On top of this most of them will have a link to another group such as their region or area of special interest and don?t forget they have a mountain of papers to read before meetings. Few of them live a short journey from where meetings are held, as an example I was up at 4.45am to make a 9.30am meeting in London today and will reach home about 8.30pm and many board members have similar journeys and more. I suppose im not selling this too well and of course there are advantages. We have the opportunity to shape the future of our Institute and Industry, we learn skills we can take back in to our workplaces and of course build up a fantastic network of contacts but self serving??

The power of social media was in evidence again today, within minutes of us telling members council the news of our chair appointments I had counted 50+ messages on twitter congratulating Ismena and Liz. Now what would we have done in 1982? Rushed to the nearest phone box?

Away from BIFM I managed a Personal Best (PB) on a run in Blackpool knocking two minutes off my best time, still plenty of work to do to get to where I need to be but definitely going in the right direction. At my running club we have various groups go out from improvers to the experts, the last few weeks I have been running with a medium level group of ladies ? we all run at a similar pace and they say im their pace setters and I joke they are my minders!! Im working towards the Edinburgh marathon now which im running with a lady from Hallmark, ill probably do this for charity so watch this space.

Its been good to see our industry get recognition by the media, you may have seen the attached in CITY AM, we also have a slot in the Sunday Telegraph on 18th March and on TV with the business channel, great momentum we must build on

So what does a past chair do then? Well there isn?t time for that now but ill share some thoughts in my next blog ? until then have a great week or two in facilities management
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