“There is never a dull moment!” says JD Thomas of his role as Manager Property Services, Regional Facilities Auckland. Based at Aotea Centre in the Auckland CBD, JD is responsible for the successful delivery of the property and FM services across a portfolio of 10 Auckland-wide venues – ANZ Viaduct Events, Aotea Centre, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Town Hall, The Civic, Aotea Square, Mt Smart Stadium, Western Springs Stadium, QBE Stadium, and Bruce Mason Centre. These facilities have a total asset value of $1 billion and annual visitation of more than five million people.
What does your job involve?
The goal is to provide world-class facilities to meet the needs of our various stakeholders within the arts, entertainment, cultural, convention, sports and heritage sectors.
Overview of my role and responsibilities:
Property asset condition assessment and monitoring
Property facilities procurement of maintenance services
Property services information management
Maintenance contractor management
Cleaning at some venues
Turf maintenance at the stadiums
Rent renewals and review of retail outlets
Capital Property Project Management
Programme planning and strategy for capital programmes
Programme management for new builds, alterations, refurbishments, heritage
Project management and tender management
Lifecycle planning and strategy advice for all mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, fire, security hardware, plant service
Building services architecture and design
Building services procurement and negotiation
Building services installation projects management and cost management
Building services asset information management and reporting
Sustainability development review and design
What does Facilities Management mean to you/your organisation?
Facilities Management means all our venues are fit for purpose, so that the various business units can concentrate on their core functions. It’s all about successfully making things happen.
What is a typical day for you like?
The portfolio is very diverse and a large amount of the work involves maintaining the current asset base to a high standard and developing it for the future needs of the various business units moving forward.
There are extensive capital redevelopment programmes totalling $400 million planned across the portfolio so there is significant planning and stakeholder engagement.
We provide Property and Facilities Management services in venues that have many different purposes, from entertainment, performing arts, conferences and tradeshows, sports, arts and culture. This involves ensuring everything is at its best for the many events we host.
By way of example:
In our theatres, we stage a huge range of events from the Royal New Zealand Ballet and New Zealand Opera to rock concerts, Broadway musicals, arts festivals and free family events.
Over the past year, audiences have enjoyed world-class musicals such as Annie, Thriller Live, Mama Mia!, and international artists such as Ed Sheeran, James Blunt, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sol3 Mio and Elvis Costello.The annual NZ International Film Festival, the Auckland Arts Festival, the Auckland Writers Festival and the NZ International Comedy Festival also attract strong audiences.
In our stadiums, fans from all over New Zealand have enjoyed international artists such as Eminem, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Eagles, Foo Fighters and sporting events such as the New Zealand Warriors, speedway and Auckland Blues games.
In the ANZ Viaduct Event Centre we have staged numerous large-scale events including the Volvo Ocean Race, Auckland Seafood Festival, NZ Fashion Week and Auckland Marathon, as well as tradeshows and international conferences.
World Building of the Year in 2013, Auckland Art Gallery, is home to the largest and most comprehensive collection of art in New Zealand. It also presents international art exhibitions, including the recent highly successful Light Show from London.
What are some of the challenges of your job/your organisation from a Facilities Management perspective?
The diversity of the events/functionality places huge demands on the assets which presents many challenges to ensure the venues are maintained to a high standard with a limited financial resource.
What are the most interesting elements of your job/your organisation from an FM perspective?
The amazing venues we look after and the many challenges this presents are diverse and varied. This ranges from staging concerts for 40,000 people at one of our stadiums to presenting West End and Broadway shows in a 2300-seat theatre, to delivering a gala banquet for 1300 VIPs at the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre. Both the team and I have a huge sense of satisfaction at the successful conclusion of the event that makes all the hard work and planning worthwhile.
What are some of the things you like most about your job?
One of the aspects that I like is the variety of people that work here. Across the group, we have a total head count of around 1000 staff, ranging from programming, curatorial, production, event delivery, marketing and sales, visitor experience, front of house, technical services, and everything in between.
What do you think are the most important skills required to carry out your job?
Good planning, organisational, problem solving and communication skills.
How big is your FM team?
In total, I lead a team of 24.This consists of five Facilities Managers, two Facilities Coordinators, a Project Manager, an Asset and Property Manager and Coordinator, a Maintenance Manager, and five maintenance staff. This includes the cleaning services team which is split between in-house and outsourced teams.
How did you get into Facilities Management?
I have been in Property/FM for over 20 years in both the corporate and public business areas, working within the leisure, healthcare, education, hospitality, arts, sports, heritage, entertainment and airline sectors.
What is your proudest accomplishment in your career to date?
There have been many over the years. I have been involved in a number of large new build projects ranging from hospitals to hotels, and it’s very rewarding to see this successfully through from conception to operation. I enjoy growing successful teams and seeing them realise their potential.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in FM?
Be flexible, build your network and get a coach or mentor.
Where do you hope to go with your current job and your career in general?
There is work to be done on implementing industry best practice models into the business, consolidating suppliers, implementing a sound contractor performance management process and ensuring we have robust health and safety practices.
When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy fishing, getting out into the bush and international travel.