Flying High with Air New Zealand
Leanne Rudd has worked for Air New Zealand for 15 years, spending the last six years in the Property & Infrastructure Team in the role of Facilities Manager – Commercial. She leads facilities management for 27 commercial sites throughout New Zealand (including Air New Zealand’s head office, call centres, retail sites, warehouse sites, and an events centre) in an overall portfolio of 285 total sites across the Air New Zealand network. Leanne manages a team of four and in addition oversees the Service Centre (the typical role of a mail centre) and all Air New Zealand’s commercial site contractor interactions.
What does your job involve?
My role involves:
Leading the FM Commercial Portfolio to ensure all sites are maintained and meet regulatory requirements in an efficient and cost effective manner; working closely with business stakeholders to be a trusted advisor when operational improvements or changes are required to facilities; providing visible and motivational leadership to the Facilities Management Commercial Team; providing support to the overall business to help ensure that Air New Zealand’s sustainability initiatives are achieved.
What does ‘facilities management’ mean to you?
It’s about being able to provide an optimal working environment so our staff can focus on delivering their business objectives.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical a day for me would include: Managing the reactive and preventative maintenance for each of the sites; engaging with and managing contractors when they are onsite to ensure any work completed is to the required standard together with ensuring all work complies with Air New Zealand’s health and safety standards; engaging with staff in the business to understand and deliver on their property and infrastructure requirements; providing support to my team.
What are some of the challenges of your job from an FM point of view?
Anticipating business needs before we know what they are, especially in an ever-changing, multi-faceted industry like aviation.
What’s the most interesting element of your job from an FM perspective?
Air New Zealand is a dynamic business, so it’s the continual change and the learnings that come with that.
What are some of things you like most about your job/about working in FM?
It’s very much hands-on, not desk bound; the diversity, as no two days are the same; and the variety of people I engage with across the business and at all levels.
What do you think are the most important skills required to carry out your job?
Being adaptable, the ability to make decisions under pressure, the ability to solve problems, having good listening skills and being able to communicate across all levels of the business. It’s also really important that you are able to build relationships so you can work collaboratively to ensure everyone is working towards the common goal.
Many FMers describe themselves as ‘accidental’ facilities managers. How did you get into facilities management?
Initially I was in an operations role and when that was disestablished some years back I decided since I was put out of my comfort zone I would take the opportunity to try a new career path. The role of Facilities Manager – Commercial was put in front of me. Despite no formal background in Facilities Management, I believed the skills I had developed over my career were transferrable so I took the plunge and I haven’t looked back!
What is your proudest accomplishment in your career to date?
There have been many over my career. However within my time as Facilities Manager – Commercial, my proudest accomplishment was managing a project to reorganise and relocate a number of departments across three separate locations (including Air New Zealand’s head office) to align with a new business structure. Prior to the moves taking place, all three sites required renovations to accommodate new layouts. Approximately 1,000 staff were involved in the moves which took place with minimal disruption to business operations.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in facilities management?
It’s not about having a trade background, but having the right attitude and being willing to learn. As Richard Branson once said…“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”
Staff, colleagues, and contractors will have more respect for you if you are open and honest. Ask questions, listen to learn and most importantly, admit when you don’t know something. People are more than happy for you to get back to them – as long as you do.
Learn to network – you’re not on your own. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Nine times out of 10 there may be someone out there who has already solved the problem and will be only too willing to help and share their ideas and solutions.
When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
Having time out for me, whether it be spending time with family and friends, getting out and exercising outdoors, gardening or just relaxing with a good book.