A version of this article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Tomorrow’s FM
Each month we ask an industry professional the Tomorrow’s FM 10 Questions. This month, we chatted to Colin Stuart, Managing Director of Baker Stuart, the provider of workplace consultancy services.
1. What was your first job?
A friend of mine and I clubbed together to buy a window cleaning round when I was 16. It was hard work but good money for a 16 year old.
2. How did you get into the Facilities Management industry?
A bit by accident. I trained as a Civil Engineer but ended up project managing fit-out, relocation and workplace projects. During the late 1990s I became increasingly aware of the impact good design was having on my clients’ staff, corporate culture and ultimately their bottom line, which lead me to a desire to try to understand, replicate and maximise the positive aspects of that change process. I believe that any workplace change needs to be designed based on evidence and have a clear goal linked to achieving the client’s corporate objectives. I naturally became more aligned to the FM industry as I firmly believe it is the FMs and Estate Managers who need to be the main drivers in promoting the benefits to their organisations.
3. Who, in any other industry, do you most admire?
If is not too clichéd I have to say Richard Branson. His positive outlook, entrepreneurial flair and inclusive and caring management style are all things I admire.
4. If money was no object, what car would you buy?
A Maserati Granturismo, I love its understated elegance.
5. How would you improve the Facilities Management industry?
We need to focus on unlocking staff potential, by that I mean, not just our own staff but more importantly our clients’ staff. If every decision we take in advising our clients and delivering our services, has an aim of improving staff wellbeing, productivity and effectiveness, the positive impact it has on our clients’ business is significant.
A well-designed workplace with the appropriate service levels acts as an enabler for excellent performance and a catalyst to encourage the right staff behaviours and a positive corporate culture. It is about effectiveness not just efficiency.
6. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be in the Army. I came very close to applying for the Royal Engineers but I think the idea of the strict discipline might have put me off a bit.
7. What do you do to unwind?
With two teenage boys there’s not much time for that! I enjoy standing on the touchline watching them play football, hockey and cricket. I was a qualified FA referee and like the idea of helping youngsters enjoy sport in a safe and positive environment. If there is any time left, I do enjoy like to watch live comedy. I saw Omid Djalili recently – he was excellent.
8. If you could host a dinner party with any three guests, dead or alive, with a fourth cooking and a fifth providing the music, who would they be and why?
Two spring to mind straight away, Ian Hislop and Steven Fry – I couldn’t think of two more entertaining people. To balance up the sexes a bit, Jo Brand would be great to have along and would more than give as good as she got! In terms of cooking, Jamie Oliver would probably be the most entertaining but I think I would opt for Heston Blumenthal, the meal would certainly be “interesting”. For the fifth – the late, great John Peel. His show shaped my musical tastes through the years.
9. What do you think is the future of the Facilities Management industry?
I think the future is really positive. There was a very negative trend during the recent recession of commoditised services delivered for the lower and lower cost which was driving value out of the industry. I have witnessed a significant shift in client attitudes over the last couple of years and an increasing awareness of the part corporate real estate and FM has in unlocking staff and business potential and impacting the corporate bottom line.
10. Fiona Perrin of HSS asks: Question for next industry professional: What will you do to make sure you focus on aligning your role with the real strategy of your business?
As a workplace and change consultant, my role is to help my clients develop a real estate strategy aligned to, and impacting positively on, the overall business objectives. It is a process of understanding the corporate objectives, identifying what changes are needed in processes, staff behaviours and organisational culture and how the estate can act as a catalyst to deliver those. It is important to develop of a clear benefits case with a workplace strategy, FM model and change programme that deliver those benefits.