Kendra Wallace FFMANZ, Director Business Solutions with Kingfisher Group
Briefly, what does your job involve?
I’m really lucky to have a huge amount of variety in my role. One day I can be in the trenches with client FM’s helping them navigate tricky situations, the next day I can be working with our software team developing cool solutions to make FM life easier and then the next day facilitating a workshop with a senior exec team to establish their future property, asset and FM strategies.
As a consultant in the asset and FM space, a big focus of my role is taking the hands-on experience I gained from being on the FM coalface, then applying a strategic and change management approach to help clients achieve better outcomes with their FM delivery. This can be through leading projects that assess and restructure how FM is delivered for an organisation, through to procurement projects and coaching.
How long have you been in FM?
Two and a half decades both internationally and within New Zealand across a diverse range of industries including energy, telecommunications, hospitality, education, retail, defence, and tech, to name a few.
How did you get into FM?
Organically… growing up on a farm I learnt that things could change in a moment. I was an early adopter of problem-solving skills and learning how to be flexible and adaptable when faced with change and uncertainty; I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, said yes to an opportunity with no idea what FM was, and I haven’t looked back since.
My days on the coalface of FM are a little less these days. However, it’s the many years of 2am emergency calls and working my way up through the FM (and procurement) ranks on both supplier and client side, that has allowed me to step into a strategic and consulting role.
What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
Helping people, and exceeding their expectations. In an educational environment, I also get to influence young minds through applied projects.
What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
The variety and changing nature, the people, and of course there are those funny requests that we’ve all experienced. I reckon it is an exciting time to be part of the FM industry. The past two years have seen the role of FM become more prominent and there appears to be a shift from an operational focus, to a more strategic one, as many businesses are adapting to the way they are working and functioning enabling them to embrace these changing times.
What do you think are the most important skills/ traits a facilities manager needs? What is one skill that is overlooked?
I refer to the most important skills as the A,B,C’S – Agile, Brave, Curious and Supportive.
The one skill that is overlooked? This is a hard one; personally, I think it’s effective communication. As an FM, you get to communicate with a vast range of stakeholders at all levels and the common skill I notice about successful FM’s is that they are “audience aware”, adapting their message to fit what is important to their audience for each conversation.
Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Sometimes I feel we overvalue technical competency in the FM world. My recommendation for anyone considering a career in FM is to put a strong emphasis on building your commercial, critical thinking, cultural awareness, change management, leadership, and communications skills as these are the skills that will help you climb the ladder in the FM world. If you’re operating as an FM, you’re going to be dealing with service providers who hold a wealth of technical skills, and it’s your job to lead the application of those skills to achieve great outcomes for your organisation; you don’t have to be a technical guru to be successful in the FM space.
When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
Photography, gardening and reading.