Adam Garrett, Facilities Head of Department (HOD) at Wētā FX

 

Briefly, what does your job involve?
Leadership and direction of the Facilities Department; responsibility for (~50) facilities crew, physical property, budget management, related commercial negotiations, vendor and key stakeholder relationships and strategic planning. Ensuring service and performance to meet Wētā FX’s current and future show needs and support a consistent global experience.

How long have you been in FM?
17 years

How did you get into FM?
I started with a commerce degree at Victoria University, with a triple major in Commercial Law, Management and Human Resources. I always had a strong interest in commercial property, so I started to apply for applicable roles in that area; first landing a job in a Building Services/HVAC company, before a natural transition into Facilities Management, just by gaining general experience, meeting people and networking within the industry.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
The varied nature of the job and the ability to use your skills and experience in any city, in any country, anywhere around the world. Each day presents a different challenge and I really enjoy working within arguably one of New Zealand’s most successful companies.

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
Integrity, honesty, energy, enthusiasm, adaptability, strong communication/people skills, a good work ethic and being both technically minded and good with numbers.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Set some clear goals and a concise plan on how you want to achieve them; ideally work with a mentor who can help you build your career path and give you some guidance along the way.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
Playing football, going to the gym, walking and staying as active as possible!

Tayla Capazorio, Facilities Management Intern with PAE

 

Briefly, what does your job involve?
My role at PAE is as a Facilities Management Intern. As a key member of the Client Services Team, I support new business scoping, solution design and development, and transition activities. An aspect of my role also includes supporting our internal business in the delivery of new technology solutions to our existing customers. No two days are the same in my role. I am involved in the end-to-end process from solution through to delivery (and sometimes beyond).

How did you get into FM?
I have recently started a great opportunity through PAE after graduating from Massey University with a Diploma in Facilities Management. I learned a variety through the course, such as facilities, asset management, project management and health and safety. Starting this opportunity with PAE will allow me to put all my newfound knowledge into action.

My work experience has mainly been in retail but my time working at Elite Services 2008 Ltd allowed me to realise my passion for facilities management. So when Massey University implemented the Diploma, I knew I had to take this chance to start my career in facilities management.

I would like to say thank you to James Wallace for helping and supporting me to get to where I am today. I would also like to thank Grant Robertson, Julia Harrison and everyone at PAE for providing me with this opportunity.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
When I’m not at work, my hobbies are painting and close-up photography. I am also part of a local Kapiti netball group, playing as a goal defence. I have been part of this club for four years and am the captain of one of the teams for the second year in a row.

Courtney Swann, Contract Manager – Compliance at BGIS and Emerging Facilities Management Professional of the Year 2022

 

Briefly, what does your job involve?
I currently manage a government contract based across Auckland, Hamilton, and Wellington. We look after fire, building compliance and building warrant of fitness.

How long have you worked in facilities management?
5+ years.

How did you get into facilities management?
I started in a temporary role in admin/data entry and invoicing, before being offered an opportunity within the helpdesk. I worked hard to show that I was committed to each role I was offered and tried to take on every challenge that came my way. I gained further knowledge in each contract that I worked on and completed multiple compliance courses for further qualifications.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
I enjoy that every day is different; there are so many different scenarios that will arise and challenge the mind.

What do you think are the most important skills/ traits a facilities manager needs and a skill that is often overlooked?
Good organisation, time management and communication skills are key to being a successful FM. Thinking outside of the box is a skill that is overlooked.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
For those thinking of a career in FM, useful school subjects are maths, business studies and English. I would recommend investigating what area of facilities management you would like to work in and focus your goals on that. However, if you wish to have a broad range of skills and not go straight into management then learning all aspects of the business you want to work for is always helpful.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy spending time with my family, friends and playing netball.

Natasja Barnard, Terminal Facilities Manager with Christchurch International Airport Limited

 

Briefly, what does your job involve?
My job is to keep the airport terminal facilities safe and accessible, so planes can land and depart and passengers can get from park to plane (and back again) safely and quickly.

My role is to ensure all the terminal facilities remain fully operational (24 x 7); its assets are monitored, managed and maintained; the building is efficient, safe and compliant; and the occupants are happy. This includes a diverse range of assets from something as simple as a leaky tap to emergency power and fire systems.

I live and am inspired by the company’s mission to be a champion airport and am committed to three areas of focus: building a stronger business and enhancing customer journeys and being great Kaitiaki (guardians of safety, security and sustainability).

My portfolio includes the terminal building, baggage handling system, passenger boarding bridges, and some systems on the apron, to name a few.

How long have you worked in FM?
Almost three years now, though I’ve been in involved in asset and maintenance management for seven years before I started my FM role at Christchurch Airport.

How did you get into FM?
Before Christchurch Airport, I spent most of my career in heavy industry, including mining and pulp and paper. After my OE, I completed an apprenticeship in Industrial Measurement and Control and worked as an Instrument Technician for a multinational commodity trading and mining company. Furthering my studies enabled me to transition into Maintenance Planning and Asset Management. From there, Facilities Management was a natural avenue.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
No two days are the same and I learn something new every day. I love all the cool stuff that’s happening behind the scenes in the engine room that keeps a facility going. The terminal is an ever-changing environment with change driven by growth, statutory or regulatory compliance, so there is always something happening. Getting up close and personal with aircraft is an added bonus!

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
A good FM must be creative, decisive and passionate about the facility and its people and, essentially, must have an eye for detail. In this role, I need to be able to think on my feet and perform well under pressure. My success hinges on the ability to communicate, connect with, inspire, and engage our clients and team members. A technical background or understanding of engineering systems would be of significant benefit to someone considering FM as a career.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
A technical or engineering background is undoubtedly an advantage, because many of the systems and day-to-day decision making involves a certain level of technical insight. Good general computer-based skills also help, because management is done via computer-based systems, from ERP to BMS.

In general, STEM skills are important, but a desire to know more, and a ‘never satisfied’ inquisitiveness is just as vital.

Rory Chacko CFMANZ, Operations Manager – Estates with AUT


Briefly, what does your job involve?

The management of buildings and infrastructure in order to keep the university operational.

How long have you been in FM?
Forever. 21 years.

How did you get into FM?
I’m an electrical fitter by trade, but in the late 90’s I tried my hand at being a barista, then a bookseller. I went to London to do a bit of an OE and found myself working for Borders Books and Music in Charing Cross Road. A job came up in the ‘site services’ department at their Head Office to cover maternity leave, I applied and got the role. When the person chose not to come back the role became mine. Over the years I’ve managed to climb the ladder to get where I am today.

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?
People skills, empathy and an ability to multitask.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Be a good communicator, work at lots of organisations doing lots of different jobs. Take an interest in buildings and what makes them tick.

Stuart Bryant CFMANZ, GM – Facilities NZ, SkyCity


Briefly, what does your job involve?

Keeping the buildings and services functioning across our site – from the lightning conductor at the top of the Tower to the pumps in the lowest basement, and everything in between.

How long have you worked in FM?
22 years.

How did you get into FM?
I was working in FM without knowing it when I was an office manager. I then ended up working for the facilities team in the building that I was a tenant in.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
FM allows me to know about all departments within the business. No day is ever the same and I get to help people out when they have issues.

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
While a good technical understanding is great, being a good communicator is key. The change in my facilities roles over the years has led me to a more strategic place where leadership and business savvy are now also very important.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
There are opportunities and life lessons everywhere. The first study I completed after secondary school was a snowboarding instructor certificate. I still use some of the skills I learned during that training today when dealing with people. FM offers a wide variety of roles so find something you like doing.

Natasha Baldwin MFMANZ, National Compliance Manager, Department of Corrections and Ministry of Justice AM/FM Contract with Downer


Briefly, what does your job involve?

Ensuring that all buildings in our portfolio (prisons, courts, community corrections sites etc.) comply with all contracted legislative compliance obligations.

How long have you worked in facilities management?
I have worked in facilities management for five years. My regulatory and extraction industry experience have given me the broad grounding in compliance that provided an easy transition into FM.

How did you get into FM?
I started my career as a geologist in the offshore oil/ gas and underground gold mining industries and transitioned into an environmental compliance role responsible for regulating offshore activity. Whilst I loved the role, the travel offshore was more challenging with a growing family, so I took a step back and decided I wanted to try applying my compliance skillset in a different area. I found a building compliance role at the Wellington City Council, which provided great exposure to both building and RMA compliance. From here I moved into a greens fields role in compliance within the Property Team at the Department of Internal Affairs. My passion for property compliance has only grown and led me into my current role.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
The thing that I enjoy most about the role is that no two days are the same.

What do you think are the most important skills/ traits a facilities manager needs?
The ability to be able to respond calmly in high-pressure situations and problem-solve on the fly.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Understand the why. This will equip you to make the right decisions.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family. My two beautiful daughters and husband keep me on my toes!

Tracy Massam CFMANZ, Pou Herenga Whai Rawa – Manager Asset Planning with Tāmaki Regeneration Company (TRC)


Briefly, what does your job involve?

I’m privileged to lead an incredibly well-rounded team of facilities and asset management planning practitioners who help make sure our homes we manage are warm, dry, safe and secure so tenants and their whanau can get on with living their best lives.

I act as TRCs asset owner and am accountable for the design of all the new homes we build and the development of planned maintenance programs for our existing 2,600+ homes across the suburbs of Glen Innes, Panmure and Point England, Auckland. Whai Rawa – Future Focused

How long have you worked in FM?
I have 15+ years’ experience working across the fields of asset, facilities, property management as well as service development and delivery which adds a unique perspective to lifecycle asset management. Pou Herenga – Knowledge Repository

How did you get into FM?
I love great design and seeing the connection between form and function come to life so when roles came up in property management and network planning at the Ministry of Education, I applied. I then got into facilities management and asset management planning and the rest is history. Mahi Pono – Doing Things Right.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
Connecting with people, seeing them interact with and enjoy the built environment, knowing they have discovered cool spaces and innovations and are using them in a way that suits and was designed with and for them is what makes the job worthwhile. He Tangata – It is People.

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
The job is as much about people as it is buildings and services so having the ability to see and understand the connection between the building, the services that operate within it and the people that use both are extremely important attributes. Hononga – Joining Together.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
If you’re a long-term, big picture thinker, curious by nature and have the ability to translate and communicate information calmly and clearly, Karawhiua – Give it a go.

Andy Gordon MFMANZ, Mā tanga Rawa – Senior Adviser, Facilities Management with New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade | Manatū Aorere.

Briefly, what does your job involve?
I oversee the management of facilities and assets for New Zealand Embassies and residential properties in over 60 countries around the world.

How long have you worked in facilities management?
15 years.

How did you get into facilities management?
My pathway into facilities management was through a technical trade route as I worked as an electrician/HVAC technician in a previous life.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
Problem-solving and working with all types of people.

What do you think are the most important skills/ traits a facilities manager needs?
Being a good problem solver and able to work with all types of people. Having a technical understanding of building systems also goes a long way.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Studying engineering or tertiary trade qualifications helps to develop practical skills and understanding.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
Being in the outdoors cycling, swimming, tramping, snowboarding etc. And when I’m not doing that I’m either playing music or walking the dog.

Simi Mukherjee CFMANZ, Head of Facilities Management, PMG Funds Management Ltd

Winner of the Brian Happy Award for Facilities Manager of the Year 2020


Briefly, what does your job involve?

I head the Facilities team and we look after over 60 buildings, 200 tenants and over 250 service providers. We have built a proactive structure to manage Health & Safety, Compliance & make sure that our buildings feel loved.

How long have you worked in FM?
Over 13 years.

How did you get into FM?
I worked in customer services roles for a while and got an interesting role with Noel Leeming where I managed the after-sales support role – dealing with disgruntled customers when things go wrong. It gave me a good insight into how to manage delicate relations and that then gave me the idea to look for roles focussed on relationship management.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
Dealing with people and understanding customer requirements.

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
Listening skills, multi-tasking, handling pressure and stress.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
FM is a great career path for someone looking for an opportunity to really grow as an individual, manage difficult situations and be a good relationship manager.

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.

Anthony Goldsmith AFMANZ, Facilities Manager, Metlifecare Retirement Villages


Briefly, what does your job involve?
I have responsibility for planned maintenance and BWOF-related activities ensuring that compliance is maintained for our villages. These works allow us to plan for future requirements such as lift upgrades or replacements and exterior painting programs.

How long have you worked in FM?
15 years internally; prior to that for five years with an outsourced FM services provider.

How did you get into FM?
In high school I was student representative on the Property Committee and one of my first jobs was as a supervisor on a large cleaning contract working with the client’s FM team on service delivery. These both exposed me to many facets of the FM world. Prior to Metlifecare I spent 14 years as Asset Manager for another aged care provider where I was also given (or assumed) the responsibility for many tasks related to FM.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
I have always been curious as to how buildings work, what it takes to make them run and what it takes to keep them looking good. I enjoy working behind the scenes with our contractors, but I also enjoy meeting with our residents and hearing their feedback on what is important to them and then thinking how my role impacts their lives.

What do you think are the most important traits an FM needs?
Facilities Managers should be curious and inquisitive. They should be willing to immerse themselves in every aspect of the business they work in so that they know how their customers use and interact with the buildings and facilities they are provided and gain an understanding of what is important to ensure that they get the most out of the facilities. With retirement villages and aged care this has meant putting myself in the shoes of an average resident, which tends to be female over 80, something I am not!

What’s one skill that is overlooked?
Effective communication appropriate to the audience you are communicating with. Different levels of the business require different levels of information to enable decisions to be made about day-to-day operations. Providing too much information often gets glanced over whereas not enough can cause frustration.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Be interested and ask questions. There are many roles within a business that can end up on a path to FM. For people working within businesses with no ‘facilities team’ their role may be a quasi-FM role already; for example, the receptionist who looks after maintenance and cleaning requirements of their office may have an easy transition into an FM role.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy traveling. Prior to Covid I spent a lot of time overseas as both my brothers and their families live overseas. I find I need to get out of the country in order to get away from my job and truly switch off!

Raden Chavez MFMANZ, Site Services Manager, with Fonterra Brands (NZ) Ltd (Takanini Site)


Briefly, what does your job involve?

I am responsible for the maintenance of site services, utilities, buildings and facilities to keep the plant running 24/7. My role is to make sure that all maintenance schedules and activities are being implemented and attained 100% and that the building and facilities are compliant with regulations. This includes a wide range of assets, from a blocked toilet to ammonia refrigeration and steam supply.

How long have you worked in FM?
Over 20 years.

How did you get into FM?
I am a mechanical engineer by profession and started in tools in the vehicle manufacturing industry. Of my 32 years in manufacturing, 25 years have been in foods and beverages and the rest were in the vehicle, telecommunications and gas industries. I started as a manufacturing cadet engineer and over 20 years ago my career led me to maintenance engineering and facilities management.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
Every day is different. As I always say, “Better fix the job today or else tomorrow will be another job and it will be stacked up.” In our industry, you need to have “Kaizen” all the time – continuous improvement to keep the plant running according to best practices by acquiring new methods and development from other industries.

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
An engineering background is helpful and technical aptitude is really important, as is good time management and organisational skills.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
I think an engineering degree sets you up really well for a career in FM.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
Volunteering. I’m a member of ALPHA PHI OMEGA (ΑΦΩ) Philippines Inc. Here in NZ, we have an APO Auckland New Zealand Alumni Association Inc. Currently, I am the Regional Director in the Administrative Region of the Pacific (Australia and New Zealand). We participate in humanitarian, community and environmental volunteering and services worldwide.

Harvey Roberts, Manager of Facilities (Tech) Auckland, Christchurch & Nelson, Air New Zealand Properties and Infrastructure


Briefly, what does your job involve?

I’m responsible for delivering an uninterruptable service to the business. This includes asset management, Opex and Capex development and implementation. Also, transparency of service delivery to customers, relationship management with all service providers, energy-efficient solutions, health and safety, being a point of contact for technical competency, team and people management, managing and maintaining plant, equipment and reticulated services including electrical services, HV, HVAC, boilers, chillers, plumbing, the environment of the space, buildings and infrastructure, waste management, hard stands, and specialised hazards.

How did you get into FM?
My first opportunity to join a facilities team came at the completion of my mechanical apprenticeship with a further opportunity to join a fast-track two-year development program, which included cross training, attending further college courses to gain academic qualifications in both mechanical and electrical engineering, shadowing leaders, design and drawing, office skills and onsite management of military sites with a significant and very diverse mechanical and electrical infrastructure. That knowledge and experience was then applied across airport environments with an increased diversity which now includes all building services and infrastructure.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
The diversity of what each day can bring, from addressing high voltage, aircon, boilers, new projects, space management, building fabric, roadway, grounds care, infrastructure, all reticulated plant and services; that’s the physical part. Then it is the interaction with the customer to deliver uninterruptable, energy-efficient and cost-effective solutions managing finance, asset management, life cycle costs and to deliver all of this you need to build relationships with internal teams, and external providers through contract engagement.

What do you think are the most important skills an FM needs?
Some of the most important skills are the people skills; we are only as good as the teams we engage to deliver the best service to our customers.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
There are numerous subjects that would assist and lead you into becoming part of an FM team including a technical background, property qualifications, safety competencies, communication and people skills, and of course, IT skills.
When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing? 
I’m of the time of life where I now have grandkids (all girls) so I can come home from a robust day to paint the nails of a five-year-old and play dollies which puts a smile on my face. Sometimes I obtain a leave pass to enjoy dirt biking, and there’s nothing better than exploring the country and travel.

Phoenix Lavin, Design and Construction Interface Manager, Programmed Facility Management

Winner of the Brian Happy Award for Facilities Manager of the Year 2018


Briefly, what does your job involve?

I represent facilities management requirements at the design table, joining the design and construction team on day one of a project and staying with them until transition to the operations team.

How long have you been in FM?
19 years.

How did you get into FM?
I spent six years in the UK working as an electrician, then as a building services engineer who reported to an FM. Heading back to NZ I realised I had the skills necessary to move into facilities management so took up a role with the New Zealand Army, based in their property team in Waiouru.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
The different industries you can work in, from aviation to movie companies and everything in between. Facilities management is about more than buildings; it’s about enhancing people’s experiences by ensuring that the built environment meets their needs.

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
Patience, along with excellent communication and time management skills, and a curious mind.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?

Every job you do prior to being an FM will give you insight into what that industry/business/individual needs from the built environment. That experience is unique to you, and FM touches all aspects of a work environment.

Your journey to an FM career may start via an educational institution or you may enter it via your current role, whether that be a cleaner, electrician or engineer. That’s the beauty of FM; it has multiple entry points.

Great communication is the key to a successful FM career. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of contractors and utilise social media and online contacts to further your knowledge.

And lastly, record your moments of success and discovery because that experience gained will help you in your FM future.

Hannah Welsby AFMANZ, Facilities Manager – IAG with Cushman & Wakefield


Briefly, what does your job involve?

Outsourced facilities manager for IAG insurance, caring for and optimising IAG’s premium corporate environment.

How long have you worked in FM?
7 years.

How did you get into FM?
Worst interview of my life for a call centre agent job with Cushman & Wakefield where I had no idea what they did or who they were. The manager took me on anyway and the mentorship and opportunities have been great.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
The challenging jobs. The ones where it’s a disaster and you have to hit the ground running, pull a group of people together, get them working together and walk away with a great result. You end up seeing the absolute best in people in those moments and it’s a good feeling.

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
An ability to build and maintain good relationships and strong networks is key. All else can be taught. .

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
The same advice I was given on week one – seek mentorship. I’ve had some great people mentor me and I wouldn’t be where I am without it.

Mike Smillie AFMANZ, National Facilities Manager with DB Breweries


Briefly, what does your job involve?
I manage the property portfolio for our three breweries (Auckland, Paraparaumu, Timaru), one cidery (Nelson), and three sales offices (Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin).

I am responsible for the planned and reactive maintenance and hard and soft services as well as minor capital works projects. With a small team of just myself and one other, I am very operationally involved in Auckland and provide advice and assistance to the other sites as and when required.

How long have you worked in facilities management?
Seven years, although I would say my whole working career has been an FM apprenticeship.

How did you get into FM?
I joined the NZ Navy when I was 19 and left at 26 before sailing my own yacht to the USA where I worked as a boat captain in San Diego for three years. Homesickness got the better of me so I returned to NZ and managed a caravan park for a few years before running my own successful caravan business for the next 20-odd years. I then sold the business and applied for the assistant FM role at DB until my manager left and I stepped into his role.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
The variety of work first and foremost. Each day is different and no task is the same which requires you to apply your skills to problem-solving. Being out and about allows me to connect with all departments across the business and build great relationships with the people here. In addition to the building envelope, I also have five hectares of land that I manage, including a wetland, sheep and goats as well as three beehives. I am not only a facilities manager but also an environmentalist, farmer and apiarist!

What are the most important skills/ traits an FM needs?Adaptability, always being available (yes, even after hours), a jack of all trades (not necessarily a master of any one in particular but that always helps), and a belief in the company’s values and purpose.

The ability to communicate authentically, honestly and confidently with the C-Suite, managers, workers and contractors of all levels would be the one skill that an FM needs to build strong relationships and success.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Technical skills taught at school, such as engineering, always help, or if you’re considering a career change then a trade qualification. But as long as you can think outside the square and have a curious mind, that shouldn’t stop you from being successful in FM.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
Health and fitness are important to me but I am also, albeit slowly, building a confidence course down the back gully of my property so that my two young grandsons will be able to play and gain confidence exploring our backyard.

Mark Fogarin MFMANZ, Bayleys Property Services, Senior Facilities Manager at Harbour Grounds, Auckland


Briefly, what does your job involve?

I am responsible for the operational success of several significant commercial assets in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter and work closely with a great team of people at Bayleys to keep our customers happy. My role covers a wide array of FM tasks, from day-to-day compliance through to driving efficiency gains and managing project work. The overall focus is on protecting and enhancing the future value of the assets while also minimising our impact on the environment.

How long have you worked in FM?
18 years.

How did you get into FM?
While I was living in an apartment building in Auckland, the Building Manager and I struck up a friendship and a few months later I was given an opportunity to manage the whole building! After a few years of doing that, I took on two buildings and then started managing a team of on-site managers with several of Auckland’s largest apartment buildings.

During that time, I spent a lot of time in Body Corporate AGM’s and committee meetings which taught me a lot about people management, building relationships and the importance of planning, logistics and teamwork.

I have always enjoyed the technical side of building systems and wanted to expand into commercial FM work. I was given the opportunity to move into commercial FM with Colliers in 2015 and a few years later ended up running the Auckland FM team for Colliers. The commercial role took things to the next level with a wide array of asset types, projects and experiences which was challenging and rewarding. It was also great fun!

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
There are a few things for sure. FMs have a lot of freedom, and I really enjoy the autonomy. I love the challenge of making the built environment better, and finding new technology and solutions to make things more efficient. FM is one of the few roles in property that tangibly affects the environment we live in, and it’s great adding value to the assets I manage. FM work involves a lot of social and networking opportunities also as you’re working in a team environment which I really enjoy.

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
Critical thinking and asking yourself, “what would my customers/building users say” is essential to successful facilities management. Pretty much everything we do has a direct impact on our clients and customers so putting yourself into their shoes is key to keeping them happy. Ask lots of questions until you’ve satisfied yourself that things will work as planned and seek plenty of opinions from those who are more knowledgeable than you.

What’s one skill that is often overlooked?
FM work is very fast-paced so being able to manage your stress levels and book time offline is very important. Knowing what your limits are and taking action to book time offline and recharge your batteries is an essential skill.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Being interested in property and technical things does help but having managed many FMs and worked with some excellent people I can 100% say that to be a great FM you don’t necessarily need a degree. What you need to bring is a good attitude, be someone who enjoys working in a team environment, is good at relationship building, solutions focussed and can communicate well.

If you’re the kind of person who likes driving positive change and isn’t a fan of keeping with the status quo, then it’s right up your alley because FMs are constantly improving how things work and adding value. Keeping an open mind and being willing to learn is essential because the FM knowledge landscape is endless and ever-changing.

When you’re not at work, where would we find you?
I’ll be in the shed at home, tinkering with my old cars – or out driving them!

Marius Nortje, Operations Manager – Projects & Building Services, UMS (NZ) Ltd

Winner of the Brian Happy Award for Facilities Manager of the Year 2021


Briefly, what does your job involve?

I am responsible for managing operations for three major clients and my portfolio includes over 650 buildings (retail, commercial, public use); over 180 playgrounds, and thousands of other infrastructure assets, each with their own complexities. I am also tasked with delivering planned preventative maintenance, delivering hard and soft FM services across a diverse range of assets. In addition to the FM space, I am also responsible for delivering minor capital works projects with the intention of having an integrated operational maintenance approach.

How long have you worked in FM?
12 years.

How did you get into FM?
I was an electrician by trade 12 years ago but wanted to do more than just work on wires and electrical equipment which led me to where I am now. At the time I learned a lot about the “gut” of a building while working on construction sites. Shortly after that I became a people leader in the FM space and have never looked back. I love working in a team environment within FM.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
It’s fast-moving and exciting. I also like seeing a plan come together followed by execution.

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
Leadership. It’s important to empower your staff. Take in all knowledge you can get.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Go for it! In saying that, it’s not for the faint-hearted! A useful school subject for me was technical drawing. Doing a trade qualification did help as a lot of those skills can be applied in FM, such as reading plans and understanding the technical side. A trade qualification also supports the role by knowing how the practical aspects are applied on the ground and how decisions made can impact staff on the ground. I see schools are emphasising a leadership approach with students these days which I think is really good.

Anthony Van Meer CFFMANZ, Building Asset Management Leader, WSP


Briefly, what does your job involve?
I offer professional building and property advice to building owners and operators allowing them to make informed decisions. Ultimately this is to ensure their assets meet their specific business requirements and that they’re effectively managed.  A big part of my role is strategic planning, whole of life impact analyses and feasibility analyses.

How long have you worked in facilities management?
22 years.

How did you get into facilities management?
I started life as a tradie in the electrical industry after completing a 9000-hour apprenticeship. I studied part-time for 13 years and ended up with a Masters degree in Design Science from the University of Sydney. While I was there, I met people studying FM and decided it looked like a lot more fun than being a design engineer, so I majored in FM.

I left Aussie in 2000 and worked in the UK for two retail providers – The Mall and Pret a Manger. My roles involved looking after the management and maintenance of their sites; this involved the whole gamut of hard and soft services.

In 2007 I returned to New Zealand and since then have worked predominantly in the asset management field.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
The variety of jobs, the challenges, helping people and establishing and maintaining relationships.

What do you think are the most important skills/ traits a facilities manager needs? 
In short, you need to be a knowledgeable person or resource instigator with great communication skills.

Communication is important as we deal with a diverse range of people; this includes being able to listen well.  Technical understanding is important too; you might not need to have technical expertise, but you need to be able to understand the basic principles of how something operates and what it is you are managing. You also need to understand the function of your role and how it adds value to make a difference.

What’s one skill that is often overlooked?
The ability to think strategically is often underrated and not fully appreciated. Too often FMs are in a reactive mode, fighting fires.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
FM is extremely varied so it’s helpful to get some work experience to help you decide what area of FM you want to specialise in. Find what excites and energises you and ensure it suits your personality. If you put me in procurement, for example, I’d die a slow death and as for contract law that just simply isn’t my forte.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
I’m an active relaxer. I’m in a band called The Mule – check out our Facebook page The Mule Christchurch! On the fitness front, I do cross-fit training (so I can compete with my own shadow) as well as a style of kung fu called Arnis. I read a lot, mostly historical fiction – I usually have three or four books on the go, learning is a real passion of mine.

Bruce Kenning CFFMANZ, Manager, Planning & Advisory with Government Property Group (MBIE)


Briefly, what does your job involve?

Government has just over 960,000m2 of office space. As the functional lead for property, we take a system-wide view, providing standards, guidelines and advice, assisting agencies to meet the Government’s expectations for this portfolio. These are:
Community focus – agencies are connected with citizens, especially in the regions; Collaboration – property enables agencies to collaborate and co-locate; Valuing People – buildings demonstrate that we value people and enable people to do their jobs better; and Public Value – value for money for the taxpayer.

How long have you been in FM?
25 years.

How did you get into FM?
I was appointed to head up Army’s property management team in December 1996. After 10 years in that role, I applied for the role of Group Manager Defence Property Group, a new organisation established to amalgamate the property teams from the three services (Army, Navy and the Airforce). This Group developed and maintained a property portfolio of 5,000 buildings (including 2,500 houses), valued at $2.8 billion, and exercised environmental stewardship across 87,000 hectares of landholdings.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
The variety, and great people that make up this industry.

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
Listen to your stakeholders and customers. Design and implement services with the customer at the centre; get them involved early (co-design). Sustainability is becoming increasingly important given the Government’s declaration of a climate emergency, and our desire for a carbon-neutral future.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Give it a go, you will be surprised at the diverse nature of the business, as FM’ers operate throughout the property lifecycle (plan, design, build, operate/maintain and dispose).

Angela Poole MFMANZ, Facilities Manager with Colliers New Zealand


Briefly, what does your job involve?
Ensuring the building compliance and the schedule/reactive maintenance works are completed in a timely manner.  Ensuring the tenants have a safe environment in which to operate from.

How long have you worked in FM?
7+ years

How did you get into FM?
I have worked for many different organisations, mostly in operational and managerial roles, but about nine years ago I decided to change career paths and I applied for a position at a facilities management company on the helpdesk.  I learned a wide range of skills quite rapidly which on reflection gave me the perfect start in the sector. I have also had some fantastic mentors who gave me support and ideas on how to grow my skillset and become a better FM.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
No two days are the same working in FM as there is always something happening, changing and new experiences to learn from. The industry is continuing to evolve which provides new ways of doing things and new learning opportunities. Dealing with people and problem solving keeps me on my toes.

What do you think are the most important skills a facilities manager needs?
Building good relationships, listening, multi-tasking, problem solving, being respectful of people’s personalities and dealing with them honestly and truthfully.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Facilities management is an excellent career path for anyone who enjoys working with people, solving problems, learning new experiences and enjoys the challenge of a busy workload.

When you’re not at work, where would we find you?
Spending time with family, eating out with friends, rugby (armchair) and hopping in the car to experience the best places around me.

John Hutchings, Account Director – Westpac NZ and Auckland International Airport accounts with Cushman & Wakefield

Winner of the Brian Happy Award for Facilities Manager of the Year 2019


Briefly, what does your job involve?

I lead two exceptional, dedicated teams who deliver the outsourced facilities management for our client portfolios. Westpac consists of seven corporate offices and over 140 retail outlets throughout NZ. Auckland International Airport consists of 140 industrial, commercial, hangars, carparks and retail properties surrounding the Auckland Airport (but excluding the terminal).

We work closely in a partnership with our clients to ensure what we do is aligned with our client’s values and strategic direction so that what we deliver is a seamless extension of their organisation as we assist with the management of their properties.

How long have you been in FM?
Approaching 14 years as an FM, on top of 13 years in building services.

How did you get into FM?
I came from an electrical consulting engineering background designing/project managing a wide range of building services in new and existing facilities. Moving to NZ provided me with an opportunity to experience the fire protection industry as a contractor/fire detection equipment supplier. An FM opportunity came up for a technical FM role – the role which made me realise I had found my calling as an FM.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
Like most FMs, I find the variety is amazing. Being in FM exposes one to so many facets of commercial property. It is pretty cool being able to use all your skills and experience from legal/leasing, procurement, building service engineering, compliance, people skills, process knowledge, system, analytics and communication to work out the root cause and solve problems.

What are the most important skills/ personality traits facilities managers need?
For me, one of the biggies is being genuinely curious. “When we are curious, we view tough situations more creatively” – Francesca Gino. Toyota has the “5 Whys” approach – after coming up with an answer to a problem, ask “why” again until you have asked the question five times. This mindset can help us innovate by challenging existing perspectives and getting to the root cause of any issue to allow us to come up with the best possible solution.
Having a passion for people is another key trait. This encompasses your customer, vendors and your team – relationships and teamwork facilitate a better outcome for everyone and make it more fun.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
FM is so broad. Most FM’s will tell you how they “fell into FM”. Traditionally an engineering or trade background was the unofficial pathway, but some of the best FMs have also come from hospitality or science backgrounds so this is not always the case. There has been a lot of work developing FM specific qualifications and this will likely become more mainstream as the profession matures.

Ross Willetts MFMANZ, Facilities Maintenance Team Leader with Hamilton City Council


Briefly, what does your job involve?

In the facilities unit of 35, I work with six facilities supervisors and four maintenance technicians. As the maintenance team, we look after 395 structures, from the large ones like FMG Stadium and the Hamilton Gardens to the smaller public toilets and sports changing rooms.

How long have you worked in FM?
It has been fantastic working as an FM on and off for 15 years. I moved to project management in construction for a time and am happy to find myself back in a facilities role again.

How did you get into FM?
I started my career in the automotive and marine industry while the family industry was farming and construction. This gave me a wide set of skills and an understanding of a lot of different trades and concepts. It also gave me the grounding to achieve a Diploma in Project Management.

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
Starting with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, I quickly found that I really enjoyed the diverse range of tasks and understanding that it takes to be successful in facilities management.

What do you think are the most important skills a facilities manager needs?
A lot of FMs have come from a trades background but I believe that having a sound understanding of customer service is key, with a willingness to improve a little each day.

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Facilities management is a broad subject and depending on the size of the organisation will have lots of specialised roles and responsibilities. I believe the key is to be genuinely interested in how things work.

When you’re not at work, where would we find you?
I have had many different interests but the ones that have stuck are motorcycle riding and leathercraft. I also have a love of the outdoors and all that comes with it.

Matt Milligan CFMANZ, Head of Property at Spark Arena / QPAM Ltd


Briefly, what does your job involve?
I maintain Spark Arena to the building codes to which it was built, oversee preventative and reactive maintenance along with the building warrant of fitness requirements. Spark Arena is a multipurpose venue that needs to meet the operational demands of a variety of different size events such as concerts, sports, banquets, exhibitions, theatrical and ice shows.

Since opening in 2007 we have had a number of large projects where alterations or major upgrades were required and I’ve taken a lead role as the project manager. As a member of the senior management team and in addition to my Property responsibilities I also take a lead role in the event day operations as the venue Incident Controller having oversight and responsibility for building operations and health and safety.

How did you get into FM?
When I left school I trained in mechanical/electrical engineering and from there I branched into a more technical and electronics field which left me with a varied technical background. In London, I ran the Media Services team at a university. When I moved to Auckland, I worked in events, setting up lights, sound and cameras before being approached by QPAM (then Vector Arena) who wanted someone to commission and look after a new building. The rest as they say is history…

What do you enjoy most about working in FM?
The changing technology. For some time after we opened, I would run up to a plant room to override equipment at source if a computer failed or had crashed! It’s exciting to upgrade systems and seeing how much more you can now get out of everything.

What do you think are the most important traits an FM needs?
Be of mechanical mind but most of all curiosity! Roll your sleeves up, get stuck in, find out how it works, and don’t be afraid to ask.

What’s one skill that is overlooked?
Humour; learn to laugh things off. Yes, things will break, even after you have just repaired them. There is no point throwing your toys out of the cot, you will only need to get the wall re-painted!

Any advice for someone considering a career in FM?
Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom. We have taken on a maintenance and electrical apprentice. The person we chose had limited experience but in his own time had been buying broken items from charity shops, then trying to repair them at home.

My facility electrician has been with me a number of years as part of the team and has recently been appointed as the Facility Manager.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
Target shooting. I am a secretary of a shooting club, on the board of Target Shooting Auckland and a member of TSNZ. I recently completed certification and became a shooting range inspector recognised by NZ Police. Also activities with the family – fishing, walking the dog, rugby (but no longer coaching as the kids are grown up!)