The opportunity in meeting clients’ needs
Facility Management interviews Emma Dixon, contract manager, workplace services at Brookfield Multiplex Services.
How and why did you get into facility management? Where have you worked in the past and what are your responsibilities at present?
Facility management is a fast-paced career that I got into by natural progression through doing what I love. I enjoy variety and, having started my working life as an office manager, I have always had the desire to work in customer services where my problem solving and people skills could be maximised.
I first worked my way from office manager to office facilities manager within a telecommunications company. I was instrumental during the company’s property rationalisation, the closure of its London sites and its repatriation to Sweden. Next, I moved to a media firm, where I was responsible for the delivery of all integrated facility management services across the firm’s national portfolio. When I relocated to Australia, I continued working as an internal senior facilities manager across sites located in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
I am currently contract manager, workplace services at Brookfield Multiplex Services. It’s my responsibility to manage all integrated services and the team that delivers our services. Successful working environments address not only the practicalities of the built environment, but also the comfort and varied expectations of those who occupy the space. Our mission is to create and maintain places that work for our clients.
How do you ensure that these responsibilities are met?
I pride myself on reliability and strive to inspire and mentor my team to provide the best customer service. I am approachable, I lead by example and I believe in keeping the lines of communication open. We have a weekly meeting, ensure our deliverables are written into each contract, ensure we are compliant with our partners’ occupational health and safety policies and, importantly, we foster relationships that are ongoing. These are not simply transactions.
Do you advocate using in-house service providers or outsourced service providers? Why?
I’ve been on both sides. When removed from the core business, as an outsourced service provider you are able to focus and react more quickly to meet the needs of clients. You can remain objective and bring the ability to be adaptable, agile and flexible, with a procurement focus. I’ve found outsourced service providers have more drive to deliver, enabling clients to get on with what they do best.
What challenges is the Australian facility management industry currently facing, in your opinion, and how can they be overcome?
I think many service providers have forgotten the basics. Client service comes first. It is important to be backed by the expertise of a team that is flexible and willing to adapt to clients’ requirements and time-frames. In addition, the management team should be accountable and there should be an open dialogue to ensure client needs are being met. I speak with Richard Gee, our director of commercial property, at least twice every week.
What opportunities are arising for facilities managers in Australia? Why should they take advantage of these opportunities and how can they take advantage of them?
Clients always want more add-ons. Facilities managers must ensure they are always in the position to give clients what they want. The opportunity lies in how a business is adapted to meet their needs. This can be done by offering a wide range of services and having the expertise to look after anything that makes a building tick – from help desks across multiple buildings to mobile phones, building liaison with owners, support with moves and changes, and management of air-conditioning systems – and delivering tailored solutions specific to each client’s needs.
What piece of technology or equipment do you find indispensable in performing your role?
My iPhone is indispensable. Accessibility is key in ensuring clients are comfortable and secure. In addition, it enables a team to communicate efficiently, allowing the provision of a higher level of service and a quick response rate.
What advice or thought would you like to share with the Australian facility management community?
You need to be passionate about what you do. As a facilities manager, if everything is running smoothly, then you don’t tend to hear about it. I look forward to getting up for work every day and to making a difference to people’s lives. If my clients have a seamless day at work, then I’ve succeeded.