Facility management (FM) is a well-established industry in the US and Europe and has reached Asia about 15 years ago.
Traditionally, FM and the outsourcing of it are closely linked to the desire of organisations to become more efficient and to save costs. Despite this, there was not a particular increase in the demand for outsourcing during the recent Hong Kong economic downturn. However, more and more organisations are realising the benefits that FM can bring to their operations.
Even though Hong Kong is considered a relatively mature market for FM, further development in this industry is expected, and those looking to get in to this field will see opportunities in the future.
Recent transformations within the industry have also helped open doors. In its own operations, ISS Facility Services places increasing emphasis on integrated facility services (IFS) — a concept that flows outside the traditional FM service, covering the peripheral aspects of building management.
"There is a large market for these IFS services which has yet to be realised," Richard Myers, executive director of ISS Facility Services says. "We intend to grasp these growth opportunities as part of the company's service expansion."
With a background in architectural design, Mr Myers came to Hong Kong 13 years ago and worked in the design and building streams. As a result of his studies in FM, he progressed into this field more than 10 years ago.
He moved up the corporate ladder by putting to work his experience in the design and construction industry, which was complemented by his knowledge gained from his masters degree in FM. "I was first hired to manage a number of properties and over the years progressed into various roles and now oversee a number of blue-chip companies within the organisation," he says.
Today, his daily activities revolve around ensuring there is sufficient planning and management in place for his varied portfolio, and that all key issues are followed up, both on the client and business sides.
He points out that good FM managers come from many different backgrounds, and while it's not a prerequisite to have a degree in FM, the experience and knowledge gained enable such professionals to have a broader sense of management. "The key is to be a good manager and a good communicator," he adds. "Breaking into the FM field is not difficult, but applicants should have experience in the property industry and a good understanding on how a building should be managed and maintained."
He also stresses that it's a job that calls for specialised skills. "It's not easy to find the right type of people who have the composite skills required, namely strong management, communication, leadership and the related aspects of managing a facility," he says. "Graduates may find a better way in the industry by joining graduate programmes."
The FM profession is rewarding on a number of fronts, and it gives great pleasure when receiving positive feedback with regards to the services you provide. Mr Myers believes: "If you have studied engineering or surveying, and is interested in FM, have an interest in things outside your area of expertise, you can bring more to your job and adapt more easily to this dynamic profession."