Here we meet Rob Smith, Senior Estates & Facilities Manager, with responsibility for the Republic Estate, a mixed-use office and education campus in London’s E14. Rob first joined Workman in September 2018 as Assistant Facilities Manager.
What three words describe Workman’s Welcome team?
One-Team, supportive, career-advancing
What is your career background, and what extra skills and experience from previous roles do you bring to the firm and its clients?
I started my work life at a law firm in London Bridge in their admin department. Handling highly sensitive information each day taught me the importance of discretion, which has helped with all things GDPR in my current role. The world of law is fast paced and full on, much like facilities management and prior exposure to this environment helped me hit the ground running in my FM career.
What first led you into the property industry?
My time at the law firm began to progress and became an FM role on the tenant side. While supportive with funding IWFM courses (then BIFM), it was a law firm, not a managing agent so I left owing to a glass ceiling and landed on my feet at Workman.
Tell us about your role at Workman, and why it’s important to the firm and its clients?
I lead a team of four Workman FM staff and over 60 landlord staff ranging from cleaners and security to reception and engineers to name but a few. Collectively, we drive the machine that is the Republic estate, which encompasses 650,000 sq. ft of mixed use, office, education, and retail space.
We manage the built environment around us and manage the client’s statutory compliance obligations. Additionally, we provide all the necessary services to the tenants that they need in order to operate and facilitate their shop/learning/office environment. This service enables the landlord to fulfil their commitments within the occupiers’ leases and therefore charge the rent that ultimately makes a return on their investment.
How are you putting your skills to their best use within the Welcome team at Workman?
Our client is currently operating several large-scale projects at once, ranging from installing an additional external fire escape to a full demolition and planning application to build two tower blocks and a data centre (and a lot more in between!).
I spend a lot of time facilitating the necessary specialists’ surveys and coordinating the relevant parties and project meetings to fulfil the landlord’s ambitions, while minimising disruption to existing occupiers.
This can be a difficult balancing act, but I am able to draw on my five years of exposure to the Republic estate to lean on existing positive relationships and site knowledge to assist in the delivery of the projects at hand.
How do you hope to develop your role in the coming months and years?
I gained a promotion at the turn of the year, so am very happy with where I am currently, however having had two promotions in my five years within Workman’s Welcome Offices team, I’m content in the knowledge that should I wish to further my career or take on any more courses, I will be supported in doing so. That’s the Welcome way.
What has been your standout moment at Workman so far?
I have had the pleasure of many really positive experiences, but the standout for me is successive promotions. I joined Workman in 2018 as an Assistant FM and am now a Senior Estates and Facilities Manager. It’s really nice to work within the Welcome portfolio that supports progression and training, as well as the significance placed on retention.
What change would you make to the wider property sector? And why?
Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, there have been sweeping changes in fire safety legislation, but this has been focused on residential buildings.
Legislative updates have not yet been put in place for commercial buildings and they are to follow. It would be great to get clarity on what new requirements will be put in place in our sector too.
What are your spare time pursuits and how do they feed into your role at Workman?
I am a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force Air Cadets and have commanded a Squadron for close to eight years now. I have been fortunate enough to receive some of the best leadership training in the world at Royal Air Force College Cranwell, which has given me the skills and confidence to lead such a large team.
The world of the MOD requires planning to the nth degree and while this can be tiresome, it gives an extremely effective framework in which to approach a task and see the full picture making the successful delivery of an objective far more probable with likely issues foreseen in most circumstances.
What is your favourite building worldwide, and why?
It may not be prettiest stadium in the world, and it’s been the scene of many a heartbreak for me but (for my sins) I’m a Crystal Palace fan, so it would have to be Selhurst Park!
What three dinner party guests would you choose, and why?
Ed Stafford – I love the outdoors and adventure. Ed Stafford was the first person the walk the length of the Amazon River. He came to my school when I was doing my A Levels and his tales of triumph over tribulation inspired me.
Albert Einstein – Space fascinates me, and Einstein’s theory of general relativity revolutionised the way humans understand the universe. I could spend hours asking him questions and it would be a good opportunity to brush up on my very rusty German language skills!
Steve Jobs – He revolutionised the world of music, mobile phones, and computing by thinking differently and being a stickler for only the highest of standards. He had an incredible way of making billions of people believe they needed a product so much that had never even existed before and did this time and time again. His biography was an inspiration to me and his focus on getting up when being continually knocked down left a lasting impression.