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60 Seconds With...BIFM Board member Sue Hills

02-05-17, 09:53

With voting in our second election to fill a further three vacancies on the BIFM Board due to close tomorrow (3 May), Sue Hills, assistant vice president of international facilities at T.Rowe Price International and one of two successful candidates to be elected following our first ballot back in February this year, shares her thoughts on FM in our 60 Seconds With...interview.

There is still time to cast your vote in the election -you can find full details and the list of candidates here.

Q. What made you choose FM as a career?

A. It rather chose me. At my first company, I was promoted into the in-house FM team and quickly knew I had found my niche.

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

A. That there was an FM Industry! Forgive me, it was the very early days of BIFM.

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

A. You need to be calm, honest, resourceful and resilient.

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

A. I love the variety; no two days are the same. I am fortunate that I work for a great company with an amazing team around me, so the good days outweigh the bad. Plus, having responsibility for an international portfolio means I get to travel and experience life in some wonderful cities.

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

A. I didn't expect that no matter how senior in the industry you get, or how strategic your role becomes, you will at some point still be discussing how many ply your toilet roll should have!

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

A. The focus will continue to shift towards user experience and wellness initiatives. Workspace users will want to use apps more, for example to book space, order services and adjust their working environment to suit, so workplace design and technology will need to work hard to keep pace.

Q. What's your greatest work achievement?

A. Apart from being voted onto the Board as a BIFM non-executive director, I think my greatest work achievement is not a single project or event, but is being respected by my peers as a subject matter expert in the FM industry.

Q. Why did you nominate yourself for election to the BIFM Board?

A. I wanted to make a contribution to the value that BIFM brings to the FM industry by its continual advancement of FM professionalism.

Q. What do you hope to achieve as a BIFM non-executive director?

A. The opportunity to provide my services to BIFM is something I consider an honour. I'm looking forward to being able to further share my FM experience and knowledge beyond my day-to-day role, whilst importantly collaborating with and learning from other industry heads, working towards the continued long-term success of the Institute.

Q. What will you bring to the BIFM Board?

A. I am an experienced board member and fully understand the importance of the role and commitment required for the governance and strategic responsibilities this role holds; asking the right questions, listening, making good, honest judgements and recommendations.

Q. What do you feel is BIFM's greatest strength?

A. Its membership - the thousands of individuals or companies who pay their subscription fees and, importantly, volunteer their time. It's allowed BIFM to have the funding to develop over the years into this amazing institution, employing people and putting the infrastructure in place to provide professional development, share knowledge, offer networking opportunities and promote the FM industry as a whole.

Q. What challenges do you feel BIFM faces?

A. As the FM industry becomes more respected within the wider property industry, and FM qualifications become more broadly available and recognised, our industry and membership have become more attractive to other professional bodies.

Q. What do you believe should be BIFM's priorities?

A. If you google the definition of a chartered surveyor, you get a very clear description of what that role is and the institution they are a member of. If you do the same for a facilities manager, it is not so clear cut. The Institute needs to not only build on its educational excellence but to strengthen how BIFM then translates the FM profession to the wider business community and beyond.

Q. Describe yourself in three words.

A. Can I have four as above? Calm, honest, resourceful and resilient.

Q. What was your first job?

A. My first job was in a mortgage department for Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society (now LV>) at their then offices in the beautiful Grade II listed Victoria House in Holborn. Luckily, I was soon promoted into their estates department with a portfolio of around 20 investment properties to manage.

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

A. Many years ago, a boss gave me the saying 'always say no in a can-do way' and it has since been my FM mantra.

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

A. It was very early on: my first estates supervisor Pat Ryan. When I needed direction on a property issue, he wouldn't let me just ask him the question, I had to submit my Q&A to him in writing for his review. Sounds old fashioned, yes? Maybe. However, you soon surprise yourself by how many times you are correct and even if you aren't you still get the best advice and learn something new. Importantly, it not only built my knowledge, but my self-confidence and self-reliance too.

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

A. I would love a pitch perfect singing voice. What a joy it would be for all around me!

Q. What's on your desk?

A. The usual desk stuff plus a temperature/humidity monitor (I am in FM after all!), a desktop skip, stress balls, a nodding Japanese doll, emergency chocolate and, importantly, photos of my family, Poppy my Yorkie and my cottage in France.

Q. What are you passionate about?

A. I am passionate about trying to make a difference, no matter how small. I am a member of the CSR committee and have volunteered for many events over the years, both large and small. I recently worked on a global event to engage Associates on energy efficiency as part of our company's Earth Week activities in April.

Q. Who's your business hero?

A. It has to be Richard Branson. Imagine the industry now if he had formed Virgin Facilities Management! Plus, he owns his own Caribbean island!

Q. Describe your perfect day away from work.

A. It is one spent at my cottage in France, simply relaxing in the garden on a warm day enjoying an aperitif with friends and family.

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

A. The best is the ability to listen. The worst is not listening.

Q. What can't you live without?

A. At home, it is the TV remote control - I need to be in charge of the remote!

Q. What are you career ambitions?

A. They are similar to those of the FM industry as a whole; to one day have an opportunity to have an FM position at board level, representing our contribution to corporate strategy and business success. It is a closer goal than ever, as more and more decisions made at board level are requiring facilities managers to act as strategic consultants.

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