Facilities management involves the complete management of services that support a business to do business. In essence, this involves:
- working out what a client (usually a business occupying an office) needs from the building and facilities around them
- building relationships and managing suppliers to ensure that those needs are met – everything from mechanical and electrical engineers to catering, reception and security teams
- coordinating all the services within a building including its construction, workspaces and energy efficiency
- ensuring that those teams deliver their objectives.
Essentially, facilities managers ensure that a building functions smoothly throughout its operational life and that tenants are happy. They are also now frequently involved at the design stage of a project to help avoid future maintenance problems.
‘I love my job,’ Michelle, a graduate at Mace Macro, tells us. ‘Each day people walk into buildings and their experience of the facilities available makes a real difference to their wellbeing. My best moment so far has been on a project that involved relocating 4,000 team members across 16 properties into a single, state-of-the-art location. Seeing the reactions of the client teams to their new building was great. On each project that I’ve worked on, I’ve seen and influenced the end result.’
What types of companies do facilities managers work for?
Employers of graduate facilities managers include:
- specialist FM companies or business services outsourcing companies
- large construction organisations that provide FM services
- property firms and property management companies
Organisations such as universities and hospitals sometimes employ in-house facilities managers.
Which areas can graduates specialise in?
Facilities managers usually oversee a broad range of services. However, on larger projects the work may be divided into ‘hard’ FM or ‘soft’ FM – hard FM involves everything to do with the physical building, such as maintenance and electricity, while soft FM involves the services provided by people, such as catering, cleaning and security. Alternatively you could gain expertise in a specific industry or managing a particular type of building. Job titles include general manager and customer services manager.
The importance of sustainability in facilities management
Facilities managers have a huge influence on the day-to-day implementation of sustainable practices. For example, they make choices about how waste is managed and how utilities are used. In fact, as clients take an increased interest in their operational carbon footprint, an FM company’s knowledge of sustainability is often the differentiator that wins the contract from a competitor. Graduates looking to go into FM should research developments in sustainability and demonstrate their knowledge in applications and interviews.
Graduate career routes into FM: the degrees that are preferred
You can enter FM with any background, but some employers require or prefer degrees in the built environment (construction, property, surveying or engineering) or business studies. If the role is particularly focused around hard FM, a building services, mechanical or electrical engineering could be asked for. It’s also possible to take a postgraduate course in FM that is accredited by the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM).
Membership of BIFM can be advantageous to your job hunt if you make the most of your membership by keeping up to date with industry trends and networking.
Most specialist FM and construction companies run graduate schemes and other types of employer also have training programmes in place. Many schemes are rotational, allowing you to sample different business areas. You might work on the commercial side, putting together bids for work or budgets, or be put in charge of a particular team or client. Just months after finishing your training you could be responsible for projects worth millions; as you progress, the size and geographical reach of your projects will increase. Yiour employer may support you to gain a professional qualification with the BIFM while you work.
Skills required by graduate FM recruiters
Those who do best in FM are ambitious and dedicated to providing high quality service. You’ll also need:
- management potential
- the ability to handle pressure
- an innovative mindset
- interpersonal and communication skills
Highs and lows of graduate careers in FM
Graduates tend to get a lot of responsibility early on in their careers and get the chance to make things happen and influence situations. It's a job in which you probably won't be able to predict what will happen tomorrow or next week, as you'll have tor react to change quickly. You never know what your next project might be,' says Michelle. 'I could be working with professionals in a law firm, a media firm, a museum or any other sector.’ It’s also a job that involves travel. ‘I’m based in London, but each day I could be in a different part of the country depending on where I’m needed,’ says Michelle.