Mark Leighton

Current job (title): Business Improvement Manager
Name of company: Cofely
Length at current job: I started with Cofely in 2008 as an Apprentice but started my current Managerial role in June 2014
Winner of BIFM’s 2014 Rising Talent in Facilities Management Award

What do you do on a typical day?

There is no such thing as a typical day! For example, this morning I met with an important Client to present our Annual Performance Review and discuss the year’s performance to date. Then this afternoon I am out on site chasing various sub-contractors to ensure an important project is completed on time on our flagship Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park site. I have a general idea of what tomorrow will contain but one e-mail later and it could all change!

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

I am part of a Regional operational team but also work independently. I work for the Regional Account Director who manages around 11 different Contracts with 11 different operational teams. Therefore a lot of time is spent on the tube hopping from site to site but I like to try and integrate into the various teams as much as I possibly can.

What do you like most about your job?

I love the variety and the fact my jobs is mainly about facing various challenges and working with different people. I get bored easily so this suits me perfectly!

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

Thebiggest way I have evolved as a person has been my people skills. A huge part of Management is being able to influence and lead people rather than simply instruct them. This is the biggest learning curve for any new Manager but I am lucky to work under excellent Mentors and have picked up various techniques on how to encourage and lead.

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

I would say the biggest skill is grit! Daily you will come up against something difficult and challenging and it is important to be able to deal with it and move on. If you let it get you down or give up easily you won’t achieve anything and will become disheartened. Once you start to enjoy the difficult bits then you are on to something good.

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

I would say go for it! FM is a niche industry and it means not following the crowd heading towards the slim pickings in media and technology. This means there is more opportunity for young people to progress quickly and stand out. Work hard and be positive always and you will be OK.

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

My current role has given me great exposure to the good and bad of Account Management. I hope to use the experience gained to move into an Account Management role and then strive to progress to a Senior role and go from there. Things change so quickly I just take each day as it comes.

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

I started off in facilities management as an Apprentice Electrician and then moved on to the Management Graduate scheme. Obviously both roles were huge learning opportunities about the industry and the workplace in general. I would say the biggest skills in the workplace are simply good communication, hard work and a positive attitude! Therefore I am going to give credit to my family who taught me this from a very young age.

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

Apprentice Electrician, Management Graduate

What is your proudest accomplishment in your career to date?

My proudest achievements have all involved our people. The main one was when we had to close down a project early and we had around 80 young people who we had trained and developed into a team who were going to lose their jobs. I organised a Jobs Fair and invited recruiting managers from around the business along with our supply chain. We had a great turn out and several members of the team are still with Cofely now.

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

I think as with a lot of industries we have seen profit margins continue to be squeezed as Clients look for increased savings and efficiencies. The industry has changed from being a basic clean and fix affair to now evolving into a huge outsourcing machine from energy to back office robotics. I hope for the future we can begin to push up our profit margins and invest in our people to really start to shape the modern, technological world we are now moving into.


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