Business Talk by President Tony Khoo.

“So long as there is a structure and there are people inside of it, that is where facility management has a role. We connect the facility with the people,” said International Facility Management Association (IFMA), Singapore Chapter, President Tony Khoo.

The misconception, though, is that facility management is just about cleaning and maintenance.

“That is only a small part of what we do. Our role is to support the requirements of our tenants, such as being able to maintain operations 24 hours a day without downtime. The operations are different for different types of buildings and a facility manager will need to understand this,” clarified Tony.

“While an architect designs how a building will look, facility managers are the ones operating the building. Our goal is to make sure that the building performs to its intended function optimally,” he said.

Professional Development

To support its 100 members in their professional development, the IFMA recently became a part of NTUC U Associate.

“Many of our facility managers are also union members who are part of the Building Construction And Timber Industries Employees’ Union. Like the unions who help their members, we want to help our members upgrade themselves and develop professionally,” explained Tony.

The association recently collaborated with U Associate to organise the ‘Leadership & Strategy Forum’ to equip professionals with perspectives on strategic planning, facility management and organisational leadership.

Other areas of collaboration will see the association give talks about the facility management industry as part of U Associate’s ongoing line-up of activities under its PIVOT career support and peer-mentorship programme.

“We will continue creating awareness about the industry, and work together with NTUC to professionalise the available jobs and share information about good job opportunities in the facility management industry,” he said.

Tony also added that as the role of a facility management professional involves a wide range of competencies such as communications, business, finance and technology, being a part of U Associate opens up new opportunities for members to network with professionals from other industries and gain new skills from the many available sectoral programmes.

“Networking is important in broadening one’s knowledge, knowing about what their peers are doing and getting to know people, all of which will eventually help in one’s career development,” he said.

Rewarding Career Opportunities

“There is a huge opportunity for professionals to eke out a career in facility management,” said Tony. One of the main reasons is that existing facility management professionals are ageing, and this creates new opportunities for younger practitioners to come in and fill the gaps.

Another area is technology. “As our buildings get taller, deeper and increasingly complex with integrated uses, the advancement of building technology far supersedes the knowledge we have to manage the building. If we can bring in people who can understand how these new buildings work from a systems perspective and technology perspective, there will be a huge career opportunity. We need people with more knowledge,” said Tony.

While anyone with a degree or diploma can join the industry, Tony highlighted that in addition to learning on the job, a passionate desire to learn is very important.

“You need to be inquisitive to find out more about what you can do better to improve your building and the way it is managed. Technology is advancing very quickly, and if you don’t follow the trends, your building may age faster,” he said.

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