A Career in FM Opens Up a World of Opportunities.
Belgian-born Anna Scheire has been in New Zealand since early 2015, and has been working as a Facility Management Consultant at Opus International Consultants in Auckland for the past six months.
Job title: Facility Management Consultant.
Organisation: Opus International Consultants.
What does your job involve?
Our team advises clients on any FM-AM related issues they encounter. Our clients are a mix of government departments, tertiary education institutions and private companies. Most recently I have been involved in the creation of a Policy and Procedure Manual for the Estates Services of Auckland University of Technology (AUT).
As FM Consultants, we have been asked by Opus Management to work on a “Better Workplace Environment” initiative with the brief to create the kind of vibrant workspace that increases creativity and communication between teams as well as making Opus an awesome place to come and work.
I am also actively involved in the Environmental Management System as part of the sustainability programme for our office. I act as the Champion for “Resource Use”.
What does ‘Facilities Management’ mean to you/your organisation?
FM for me means taking away issues from the occupier to make their life easier. It involves constantly being on the lookout for new solutions and cost savings as well as building relationships with contractors, occupiers and clients. At Opus International Consultants we help our clients by sharing our knowledge and advising them on how they can improve their FM services.
What is a typical day like for you?
I spend most of my day in our office working on my project portfolio. I go out to meet clients for workshops or progress catch-ups on a regular basis. The good thing about being part of a consultancy organisation is the wide range of challenges we get – every client organisation is different, and variety is a good thing.
What are some of the challenges of your job from an FM point of view?
The two biggest challenges are the time and budget directed by our clients. The Executives that our clients report to still tend to see FM as a cost centre and don’t always see the value that strategic FM or AM can make in terms of long term value and enabling of their business.
What’s the most interesting element of your job from an FM perspective?
I enjoy the challenge of making the client and occupier happy and looking for appropriate solutions for new issues that come up. Every day there is something new to learn; FM is such a broad field.
What are some of things you like most about your job/about working in FM?
What I like the most is the contact with the client, building new relationships and fostering them. It is hugely rewarding to see a new idea take hold and move an organisation forward.
What I really like about my job here at Opus, is being part of a great team. We all dressed up to win a team competition, we went on an amazing stream trip jumping off waterfalls on the weekend, had a thanksgiving lunch…
What do you think are the most important skills required to carry out your job?
The ability to adapt to new situations and the will to learn new skills. As well as the ability to listen to people and understand what the client is really after. Ours is very much a people business.
Many FMers describe themselves as ‘accidental’ facilities managers. How did you get into facilities management?
I’m not an accidental facilities manager as I decided at 18 years old to go study FM at university after seeing an info video about the job. I completed my bachelor degree at University of Sint-Lieven in Belgium, moving to France to continue my studies with a MA in Property specialising in Facilities Management. These studies were combined with an apprenticeship, four days in the company and one day at university, plus one five-day week at university per month, which was a perfect combination as I find that FM is a job that you learn through experience.
After some time travelling, I arrived in New Zealand at the beginning of 2015 and started working in FM again. I started off working for CBRE on the Nestle account and moved on in August to Opus International Ltd.
What is your proudest accomplishment in your career to date?
The fact that I’ve worked with a very diversified portfolio of clients, from hospitals and temporary office space in Belgium, to property managers, banks and Middle-East investors in Paris, to big corporates, public organisations and universities in New Zealand.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in FM?
Listen to your clients and stakeholders, network and build relationships. Always keep in mind that there is a solution to every problem.
When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy swimming, running and camping. I love French food and wine and going out to dance. I also enjoy a good movie on Netflix cuddled up with my pet cat.