André Klopper

Current job (title): National Facilities Manager

Name of company: Eris Property Group

Length at current job: 4 Years

What do you do on a typical day?

A typical day consists of prioritising the barrage of emails and deal with the high priorities first. Then checking in with all the various sites to get an update of the previous 24 hours issues and planned work for the coming day, part of this process of interaction is sharing ideas and making suggestions.

 

Then it is time to attend a couple of meetings to deal with issues relating from service delivery of a contractor to a condition assessment of a new property.

 

A key aspect of the job is the gathering, analysing and interpreting of various bits of information which are used to monitor certain areas of the business and making decisions based on the interpretation of the information. In today’s technology driven world there is a lot of information out there the trick is to find the bits that are important for you and monitor it to ensure you have good management information on which to base decisions on. A good starting place is the helpdesk.

 

Next is an interview or two for a new FM position that became available.

 

Another meeting, this time with a service provider regarding the refurbishment of an office for a client and it has to be “green”.

 

Then it is time to attend to some of the emails received since this morning and to deal with the normal corporate administrative functions and tomorrow will be a completely different day with new and other challenges.

 

Are you part of a team or do you work independently?

I am part of the best Facilities Team you can find!

 

What do you like most about your job?

Not one day is the same, everyday has something different, advances in technology in different disciplines evolve at warp speed which ensure that in order to stay on top of your game, one has to learn and grow at the same speed.

 

How have you evolved in your current job? How have you maybe evolved as a person?

I was fortunate to evolve in FM through completing a BSc in FM and starting as a soft services manager and then progressed up the ladder in all aspects and functions of the disciplines in FM to completion of an MSc specialising in FM to being the National Facilities Manager for a large property management firm. During this process I worked on the largest FM projects in SA and also had the opportunity to work in Saudi Arabia and Dubai and I thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

 

What do you think are the most important skills required to carry out your job?

I believe the most important skills, the ones you just cannot afford not to have are;

  • Being analytical minded, you have to be able to analyse data or information and be able to “see and understand the bigger picture”
  • Be a decision maker, don’t hesitate be decisive
  • Driven, to put your head down when the going gets tuff and just get the job done
  • Have strong interpersonal skills, everything you are going to achieve are going to involve people somehow
  • Adaptability, thinking on your feet and adapting to the circumstances, be a “FM-multi tool”
  • Be tech savvy, have a better than average understanding of technology in the FM environment

 

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in facilities management?

Be ready to face many challenges (sometimes a bunch at a time), be a team player, because you are going to have to depend on other people to get some things done and expect the unexpected.

 

If you are comfortable with these issues, then you are going to thoroughly enjoy FM!

 

Where do you hope to go with your current job and your career in general?

Personally I would like to further advance into a fulltime career lecturing FM at university level and be involved in research of the many yet unexplored facets of FM.

 

How have your education and / or past experiences helped prepare you for your current role?

It played a big role. The education laid the foundation to understand more intimately the interaction between the various aspects of FM and their level of influence on each other.

 

Experience, is as they say something money can’t buy. Good solid, broad experience is an absolute game changer. The ability to evaluate possible outcomes, develop possible new outcomes, and evaluate them as potential solutions and then make a decision on which will be the best solution to implement all in a couple of moments, is what makes the difference between FM Managers and good FM Managers.

 

What type of jobs have you had in the past? (job titles are fine)

Information desk officer in a shopping mall. A soft services manager, FM project manager, Facilities Manager, Account Manager, FM Specialist, Head of FM and National FM Manager

 

What is your proudest accomplishment in your career to date?

For me there are 3 moments that stand out thus far in my career. The first is when I was awarded an MSc degree specialising in FM from Heriot-Watt University and so became the first person in SA to achieve this in the field of FM. The second, moment that stands out is being part from the very beginning in the establishment of the professional organisation for FM in South Africa (safma) and still being a board member 14 years later. The third moment that stands out is being the founding member of the committee established to develop FM standards for South Africa who also became a participating member in the International Standards Organisation’s committee developing standards for FM internationally.

 

What do you think the climate is for your industry? Where is it headed? How has it changed?

Facilities Management not only in South Africa but the whole of Africa has grown in leaps and bounds. FM is now recognised as a key component of an organisations success and has therefore climbed to a much higher rank on the corporate ladder of importance in the private sector.

 

However, having said that, the public sector have not yet fully embraced FM as a major contributor of employment and the importance of FM in the maintenance of basic infrastructure, which in turn would lead to improved levels of service delivery. Once governments realise the impact FM can have on basic service delivery, the sky literally becomes the limit. With an abundance of opportunity and a positive impact on many people’s daily lives FM is like a diamond in the rough waiting to be discovered and worked into an item of beauty and high value.

 

It is therefore so important that professional organisations in countries and Global FM work together to highlight the benefits of FM and the positive influence it can have as wide as possible. In the process a groundswell will develop as more and more success stories are shared the world over and in this process more and more people will ultimately benefit from FM.


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