At the Helm of a 365 Day-A-Year Facility
Stuart Hindley is the Facility and Site Manager / HSE Officer for Snowplanet Ltd, New Zealand’s only all-year indoor snow resort, situated on Auckland’s North Shore. He has been in this role for just over five years, and heads a small internal team of maintenance staff as well as the HSE committee. He also sits on Snowplanet’s executive management team.
What does your job involve?
Well, I guess in a nutshell my role is to ensure that Snowplanet offers a safe world-class facility to its customers, staff and contractors. Our facility crosses over several areas of business from the snow industry, hospitality and tourism industry and then of course the back of house industrial plant.
It is my responsibility to ensure that our facility is compliant with all requirements from each industry whilst striving to deliver a unique product and aiming to deliver awesome snow experiences 365 days a year.
What does ‘facilities management’ mean to you/your organisation?
Facility management to me means being able to deliver facilities that can be used to their full potential by any part of the business. The facility should be well maintained and ready for operation with no disruption to the core business. I believe that facility management is also about having the ability to make improvements and change the company’s infrastructure whilst ensuring all operations continue seamlessly.
What is a typical day like for you?
Ha-ha – a typical day, I am not sure there is one within the nature of our business is there? On a daily basis I work very closely with my Maintenance Manager, General Manager, Resort Manager, Ski & Board School Manager, as well as on-going communications with the Marketing and Food & Beverage teams. This involves getting a full up date from the previous night’s operations both during business and after business hours when the maintenance crew are in operation, a review of upcoming operations, events both on and off snow, large group bookings as well as facility and snow slope requirements. After this there is the Health and Safety review from the day before followed by current, previous and future facility projects to review and plan. Then throw into the mix contractor management, energy management, financial management, business development, facility administration and product quality control, and you have a somewhat typical day.
What are some of the challenges of your job/your organisation from an FM point of view?
The unique type of facility that I manage and the amount of different fields that it crosses over means that you constantly have to be up to speed with the status of codes of practice, far more than say a hospitality or office environment. The fact that the business side of our facility is 365 days a year, and the maintenance aspect 24 hours a day means organisation and communication is key, as there is no room for error or downtime of key machinery. Every aspect must be planned and executed to a strict timeline; should the unexpected happen then you need to have the relevant plans in place to get you back online without any interruption to the day to day business operations.
What’s the most interesting element of your job/your organisation from an FM perspective?
I would say the most interesting element of my job is the amount of different people I have to communicate with from all different aspects of life and business. I can go from discussing our core product with a teenage customer or experienced ski racer to sitting down with our GM to discuss future business plans within the space of 10 minutes. It is our unique facility that enables me to do this as I have to listen to everyone’s opinion in order to be able to deliver a product and facility that will meet the requirements of our customers and stakeholders.
What are some of the things you like most about your job/about working in FM?
I personally enjoy being able to look at the faces of the customers that come to enjoy our facility and what it offers. Facility management can be seen as a thankless task, because 95% of what we do is never seen, and understood even less. I take great pride in knowing that my internal team, contractors and myself have done our job to a high degree of competency. This is reflected by many people – both internally and externally – that use the facility with a smile on their face.
What do you think are the most important skills required to carry out your job?
Great communication, calm under pressure, organisation and the ability to adapt to any situation are all key skills. It is also very important to want to continue to learn and better yourself and the knowledge of your environment whether that is retail, real estate, snow or administration, you must want to remain at the forefront of emerging practices.
Many FMs describe themselves as ‘accidental’ Facilities Managers. How did you get into facilities management?
I again would fall into the accidental category. I have a very strong hands-on background from computer engineering through to heavy equipment, marine and road transport technician. I first started getting involved in building systems through backup generators and then moved into operations management. I started working for Snowplanet as the Maintenance Manager and then my role progressed from there by learning about all the different aspects within the business.
What is your proudest accomplishment in your career to date?
I think not ever failing to open the facility for business or closing the doors due to an operational concern makes me proud. Being able to deal with whatever happens whilst constantly making improvements in a unique business that operates 365 days a year and 24 hours a day I feel is a good achievement. I have to point out that my achievements are a reflection of the team that I am very proud to lead.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in FM?
Pay attention to the little things, listen to all areas of the business, build good working relationships internally and externally, talk to your end users, whether they are staff, customers or tenants, and most importantly be seen and be engaging around your facility. You cannot successfully manage a facility unless you are familiar with it; do not be afraid to get hands-on.
When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
When I’m not at work I enjoy getting out and about with my wife in our beautiful country where there are no walls to restrict us. I enjoy hunting and fishing, riding my motorbike and also mixed martial arts.