• David Sharp
  • 25 March 2013

Why attend ThinkFM?

As Chair of the Programme Advisory Group (PAG) for ThinkFM, along with my conference committee colleagues I’m pleased to say our work is now largely done. We’ve secured some 22 of the 24 conference sessions taking place on 10 June in London, and the programme looks good: strong, varied and original.

We were especially pleased to attract a dynamic speaker in Jim Lawless to kick off the day with the same sort of energy and panache that we enjoyed from Sahar Hashemi last year. Jim wrote a best-selling motivational book ‘Taming Tigers’, backing up his words with his actions when he famously bet he could ride in a competitive horse race with less than a season to learn how.

We’re privileged to close the day with Chris Kane, Chief Executive Officer of BBC Commercial Projects, the man widely admired for his work in relocating much of the BBC’s workforce to Salford Quays in Manchester, and barracked in the press for the reward package he is said to have received for his efforts. That should make the questions interesting!

Squeezed between these two fascinating bookends, there is a mass of activity to take part in.

My own interest extends beyond the fact that our company, Workplace Law, is again producing eight of the 24 sessions this year, though I’m of course proud for us to be associated for a second year with what is the largest annual FM conference outside of North America.

Any selection of highlights is bound to be partisan, but here’s what’s got me interested.

I’m looking forward to finding out more about the work BIFM and Workplace Law are doing on competencies in facilities management. We know from the research we undertook for ThinkFM 2012 that there’s a strong correlation between high performing FM operations and those that utilise competency frameworks within their HR structures. I’m interested to find out what progress has been made.

On a similar theme, I’ll be following the session Workplace Law’s Head of Environment Peter Watts is co-presenting with Martin Baxter, Executive Director of Policy at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). Peter and Martin will be launching a new initiative, ‘Smart Steps to Sustainable FM’, as well as previewing changes to the ISO 14001 standard expected in the next couple of years.

There’s going to be quite a lot of interest in the environment, and so I’m also keen to find out more from WRAP – the Waste & Resources Action Programme – and what they are doing to make a difference in facilities management. I’ve seen them in and around a couple of conferences, and I know they’ve been concentrating on partnerships in FM to stimulate resource efficiency.

Following on a theme from last year’s ThinkFM – and one still very much at the forefront of the FM agenda – there’ll be plenty to say on partnership and procurement, with sessions from Ian Schollar of The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS), and Tom Robinson of MITIE Client Services. I’m presenting a session with Bev Burgess to pick up on procurement where we take last year’s research on the ‘intelligent client’ one stage further.

It wouldn’t have a Workplace Law feel to the conference if we didn’t address health and safety, and I’m pleased we’ll be running our usual legislative update, as well as a session on behavioural safety that demonstrates a link between strong leadership and strong financial performance.

What is perhaps the highlight of the conference for me is Dale Collins’ session on coping in the aftermath of a fatality; focusing less on the legal aspects, and rather more on the emotional, procedural and downright practical issues that FM’s have to deal with at such a difficult time. We discussed this session in some detail at the BIFM People Management Special Interest Group, and are hoping to include some video interviews with facilities managers who have been through this sobering experience: a true test of leadership in difficult circumstances.

There’s plenty more too: Debra Ward of MITIE Client Services on how to engage the board (yes, more MITIE, but they have just become recognised as one of the Sunday Times Top 100 small companies to work for); Cathy Hayward on social media in FM, bringing her experience from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations to bear; and some in-depth sessions on Building Information Modelling (BIM) and why it’s the future, one of which features BIFM’s own CEO Gareth Tancred. If only they’d stuck with my idea of calling that session ‘Where’s the ‘F’ in BIM’ …

All this content can be yours to choose from across three parallel hubs, for the mere cost to members of £295 plus VAT if you book by Friday 22 March. That’s seriously good value for a one-day event in London, and it’s a small price to pay to network with everyone who’s anyone in facilities management in the UK, more than 300 people last year.

Find out more about the content here: If you’re planning on coming along, what you really need to do is book – and the best time to do that is now! It would be great to see you there.

The early bird rate has been extended to Monday 25 March; book now: