In September 2016, Measuremen opened a new office in Sydney, Australia. In this blog, Lisa Hut, Country Lead Australia reflects on her experiences in Facilities Management down under.
Facility management in Australia
I arrived almost a year ago in Sydney and after a month I became a member of the Facility Management Association (FMA) of Australia. I attended my first-ever FMA event in Melbourne. It was the FMA industry awards – A gala dinner and apart from being impressed by this beautiful concept, I noticed two things.
Most likely I was the youngest attendee at the party. In the Netherlands, the professionals in the industry are a lot younger than in Australia. The reason for this may very well be that there’s no FM Bachelor or Master Study at the universities in Australia. When I tell I have studied Facilities Management, It often prompts a somewhat uncomfortable reaction: “You studied Facility Management? Four years? As a girl? Why?”
In time, I learned that the FM industry in Australia is currently one of the men coming from other business domains such as property management or IT. Fresh ideas and perspectives offer therefore a good starting point for interesting conversations.
Secondly, immediately after the last award was issued, the music band started playing and suddenly people jumped up from their chairs and started dancing on the dance floor. Not just a few people, almost everybody! All of these dancing people might have had a few drinks (too many) as they were not too shy to dance. They had fun, drank alcohol, and kept going till the lights went on. I, the please-don’t-make-me-dance-Dutch-girl, was still sitting at the table. Watching and thinking, “wow, they know how to celebrate”. In my experience, this was quite different as opposed to the calm – perhaps boring – Dutch FM parties.
One year in Australia
After almost a year of expanding the business of the company I represent, Measuremen, I notice the same principle. I might have been the youngest and found it hard to start a serious conversation, but it became clear to me how to act in the business. I soon learned that the large real estate companies rule the Facility Management industry in Australia. Nine out of ten facility managers at any firm I’ve met were outsourced by one of the real estate companies. They were receptive to the ideas I vented however they would look to their employer – the real estate company – whenever they wanted to use such offering.
Therefore I had focused my networking and relationships around the real estate companies. I’m working in the workplace industry and everyone seems to know each other. Breakfast meetings, a lot of coffee, and network events are weekly things. You see the same faces and you’re not talking about business but personal subjects. You could say the workplace business is a little bit clicky, but it’s great to see that people are helping each other with new referrals. I never went to a sports game with my clients or had so many dinners I’ve had here.
Looking back I can say that after conservative beginnings, I managed to develop fruitful relationships that are mutually beneficial. So, in my opinion, it’s all about building and maintaining relationships with your network and clients. Once you build that relationship and you delivered excellent work, you’re in and dancing together!