From the office to a workplace experience

'The transition to a different way of working had already been made, and because of Corona a new dimension is added.’ An interview with Facility alumnus Randy Wirht.  

'The transition to a different way of working had already been made', Randy Wirht explains. 'And because of Corona a new dimension is added. This is what makes facility management such an interesting field.' Randy started in 2002 as a part of the first cohort of the International Facility Management programme and now works as Senior Director at JLL in Rotterdam where he is Workplace Experience Regional Leader for Procter & Gamble.

'It is good to see the challenges currently facing the facility manager,' Randy says. 'The transition to a different way of working had of course already been made prior to Corona. The younger generation values flexibility and freedom in work more than for instance a set workspace or a company car. This also changes the role of the facility manager. It is more about creating a workplace experience. And this workplace can be anywhere and also at any time of day. At some of our clients you see for instance that the offices are open 24/7 to facilitate workers who are productive at night. Because of Corona many people now work from home. And that will partially remain this way. This means yet another dimension to our profession, we are currently busy researching how we can facilitate employers and employees in this.'

'Now that I am a manager my motivation comes from the development of my team members. When they are successful, even though they did not think they could do it. When they then still manage, that makes me very happy!'

Randy Wirht, graduated in International Facility Management

Facility management is about people

'The field is rapidly developing. When I started, facility management was quite new in the Netherlands. It was a new study programme and I still remember that the first year was mostly about learning what the field entailed. It is not just about buildings and facilities. In the first year I have seen a wide spectrum of topics. I learned about the internal customer, supplier management, law, building, I was in the kitchen creating a menu plan. But the most important lesson I learned was that facility management is about people.'

Feeling good about BUas

'I intended to enrol in the hotel programme. This focus on service is a part of me and I knew I wanted to do something with that. On the BUas, or NHTV as it was called at the time, open day I learned about facility management and it immediately appealed to me. I am someone who is guided by feelings and this immediately felt good. Together with a few fellow students I started 't KAG student association in the first year. This idea came up in the pub and we wrote the first plans on the back of a coaster. I am still active for BUas. Last week, I was part of the panel which was questioned regarding the programme's IFMA accreditation. I want BUas to be able to be successful, just like BUas wanted me to be successful when I was a student.'

Pioneering professional

'The fact that the programme, and also the profession, was new only appealed to me. In my third-year work placement I helped in the further development of a facility department at Carlson Wagonlit Travel. And I wrote my graduation thesis for Bruynzeel Keukens. The facility department there was embedded in the technical team and my assignment was to come up with a proposal for a stand-alone department. Professional facility management was quite new for these two businesses and this pioneering was not always easy. It did teach me however how things really work in businesses.'

Visible in the workplace

'My strength is not really in content but more in how I deal with people. This definitely played a part in the success I enjoyed in my job as a location manager at Asito, a cleaning company. By talking to people, coaching people and especially by being visible in the workplace, I managed to reduce the absenteeism rate to the lowest level of all offices. Apparently people feel quickly at ease with me, have confidence in me and enjoy working for me. It really helps if you do not feel too big to grab a mop and work alongside them once in a while.'

Invest in people

'When I just graduated I thought that you could not become a facility manager without having experience. So I consciously invested in working with people, learning about people, learn to understand how they think. My first job was at a recruitment agency where I worked on a lot of assessments in collaboration with psychologists. A correct assessment of people was very important to get to a good match. And clients only pay when a successful match is made, so you learn soon enough!'

A well-running facility team

'At the moment I have been working at JJL for eleven years. BUas often works with this company and Tim van Leeuwen, who was a lecturer at that time, told me that a position was becoming available. JLL provides Integrated Facility Management Services to large customers such as Amazon, Facebook, HSBC, Coca Cola, Philips, Google and so on. As a manager I hold the final responsibility for the workplace experience at our client Procter & Gamble in France, the Benelux region, the UK and Ireland and the Scandinavian countries. P&G is a multinational business and one of the largest suppliers in the word of domestic products and toiletries. For a couple of years I have also worked for this company in Germany. The office near Frankfurt saw a lot of changes. The experience from my work placements has helped me to establish a well-running facility team. This is very satisfying.'   

It makes me happy!

'In this profession the motivation has to come from within you. I think that this is something which students should know. When things go wrong, you will get complaints. But when things run smoothly, compliments are generally scarce. You have to be able to deal with that. At first my motivation came from satisfying people, from a nice event we organised or a clean workplace. Now that I am a manager my motivation comes from the development of my team members. When they are successful, even though they might not have believed in it or did not think they could do it. When they then still manage, that makes me very happy!'