Stuart O'Brien, Author at Facilities Management Forum | Forum Events Ltd - Page 61 of 62
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Stuart O'Brien

Forum Insight: 10 ways to succeed at a Networking Event

Walking into a meeting room full of people you don’t know can be a scary experience. But there are proven ways to conquer this fear and make ‘networking’ enjoyable, useful and a great way to do business. Paul Rowney is here to present 10 of the best ways to nuke those networking nerves!

  1. Plan ahead: Get the attendees list in advance of the event and highlight who you want to meet. On arrival contact the organiser and say who you are trying to connect with and if they have the chance could they introduce you when they arrive? Occasionally go to Registration and enquire if one of your ‘targeted’ visitors has arrived, they may be able to point him out to you.
  1. Get there early. If you are one of the first to arrive, it is much easier to start up a conversation with only a few people in the room.


  1. Most people arriving will be in the same position as you-not knowing anyone else there, so prepare a few easily answered, conversation opening questions: “Whose presentation are you looking forward to hearing today?”….”What brought you to this event”.
  1. Joining a group. Approaching a group of delegates already in full conversation with each other is daunting. So be bold, and simply ask “May I join the conversation, I’ve just arrived and I’m keen to learn what’s going on”.


  1. Creating a conversation. Ask questions. Be a good listener, don’t dominate the conversation with your own stories and business ideas.


  1. Be helpful: share your knowledge of the industry, your contacts, sources of information. If people perceive you as an expert or knowledgeable, then they will want to keep in contact.


  1. Use you business card as a tactical weapon. I have a friend who renovates old wooden floors, so his business card is made of a thin piece of wood-a guaranteed conversation starter. Be imaginative with your business card design-and also your job title. Anything that says ‘sales’ or ‘business development’ could cause people to fear a sales pitch is on the way. So try and think of a job title that might encourage, not discourage a conversation.


  1. If you receive a business card, make notes on the back to remind you of the conversation and the person.


  1. Following up: If you have had a really constructive conversation, and you have agreed to ‘follow up after the event’, then agree on how and when you’ll do it Email? Phone? Text? Linkedin? And do it promptly.


  1. Don’ts at networking events: Sales pitches: even if asked “what does your company do”, keep your answer to a very brief, light weight explanation: “we help people solve their logistics IT problems”. Don’t ‘work the room’ rushing from group to group like your serving canapes is not the way to start business relationships. It’s better to have had four good conversations, than a dozen meaningless ‘chats’.

Companies paying millions on health and safety fines

Firms paid over 600 per cent more in health and safety fines last year than the previous two as firms felt the impact of stricter guidelines.

19 fines of over £1 million were issued, compared to three in 2015 and none at all the year earlier.

But this has a healthy impact on employers overall, according to the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which believes it leads bosses will take greater care of their employers now the regulations are tougher.

“The level of fines now being handed out recognises society’s disapproval of serious corporate failures that lead to injury, illness and death,” according to IOSH executive director of policy, Shelley Frost, “Protecting employees and others affected by a business’s operations will not only eliminate the risk of a large financial penalty but can also be key to ensuring and maintaining an organisation’s strong reputation ”

The largest 20 fines for health and safety offenses in 2016 totalled £38.6 million, over £34 million more than 2014, and didn’t necessarily involve death, provided the threat of death was great enough to warrant the penalty.

The largest fine last year was £5 million to Merlin Entertainments after the serious injuries caused at the rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers.

“The increase in fines being issued by the courts demonstrates a desire to drive the message home that ensuring health and safety within a working environment is fundamental,” said Mary Lawrence, IOSH council member and health and safety partner at law firm Osborne Clarke LLP.

“I see many businesses who focus on the safety and health of employees and others experiencing a broad range of benefits, including being better placed to attract and retain talent, scoring points in procurement processes for valuable contracts or even when seeking external investment.”

Natural gas truck wins ‘project of the year’

The first ever truck long-haul designed to run on natural gas was voted Project of the Year at the European Gas Awards of Excellence 2017 at a conference addressing Europe’s energy future.

Developed by IVECO, the new Stralis NP is expected to be a success on the market, presenting a balance of high comfort, lower total cost of ownership, sustainable performance and reports to generate 17 per cent more power than its best current competitor, while lowering fuel consumption by five per cent.

One of five in the running for the award, it celebrates ‘pioneering innovation’, and aims to inspire further competition and invention in order to achieve growth for the European gas market.

Winning the award was welcomed by IVECO, who believed it was a testament to their “commitment to sustainability.”

“the future of transport was in sustainable alternatives solutions,” said IVECO brand president, Pierre Lahutte, “it is the first true long-haul gas truck in the market that offers a real alternative to diesel vehicles and the most sustainable long-distance transport truck ever.”

German legislation to increase workloads for agencies

Changes to German taxation and employment legislation is expected to lead to a more open relationship between agencies and clients, as well as an increase in contractor workloads.

A revision of pre-existing laws on ‘AUG’ labour, the changes relate to leased workers within the country.

Agencies putting contractors in Germany will have to make clear their engagement model in order to increase transparency.

Leading contractor management provider 6CATS isn’t as concerned with the changes as they are about those looking to avoid the extra paperwork, as additional processes and administrative duties will have to be accepted to work within the German market.

As more countries begin to share their information as part of the Common Reporting Standard, the management firm believes that companies will avoid the changes at their own peril.

“Any firms thinking they’ll be able to slip under the radar and get away with it are sadly mistaken, it’s simply not worth the risk,” said 6CATS “breaking the law in one country could have a knock on effect on an organisation’s operations in other fields.”


Industry Spotlight: Simplified add-on services for cloud providers

OnApp has launched v5.3 of the OnApp cloud management platform, which helps cloud providers add value to their customers and users by delivering application services and managed services along with virtual servers in their OnApp clouds.

OnApp’s new Service Add-On and Service Catalog features enable cloud providers to offer a range of add-on services, such as software installs or managed Linux/Windows administration, in a fully automated way – reducing manual effort, and enabling them to tailor their clouds to the specific needs of different customers and users.

OnApp v5.3 is available now as a free upgrade to the global community of OnApp cloud providers, and via a range of easy-to-deploy packages for new customers. More information is available at

Guest Blog: Lindsay Atherton: Where’s your defibrillator?

Defibshop Sales Manager Lindsay Atherton discusses Sudden Cardiac Arrests (SCA), what they are and what you can do to stop it.


SCA is a term you may have heard from time to time whether it is in the news, articles or even on the radio. Regardless, it’s a condition which is very present within the world, affecting more than 30,000 people in the UK each year alone.

Whilst we assume all conditions of the heart are the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, age or genetics; it is a scary truth to learn the Sudden Cardiac Arrest can occur in everyone whether they be young, old, fit as a fiddle or a couch potato.

So what is SCA exactly? Well, often a cardiac arrest is mistaken for a heart attack, which is in fact a very different occurrence. A heart attack occurs when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked. This usually happens as a result of a blood clot whereas a Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a condition caused by an electrical malfunction in the heart which stops blood from pumping around the body. SCA often occurs suddenly, with no prior warning or conditions to prepare the victim and can be fatal, if not treated instantly.

The electrical malfunction will cause chaos in the heart, leaving it unable to pump blood around the body, starving the brain and other vital organs of blood and oxygen. It is only with CPR and a shock from a defibrillator that a casualty’s life can be saved, and action must be taken quickly.

In simple terms, a cardiac arrest is an electrical problem, whilst a heart attack is a circulation problem. Heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle, avoiding highly processed foods, not smoking and exercising regularly. Sudden cardiac arrest however cannot be prevented and so the only definitive way to protect those which fall victim of SCA, is to ensure the accessibility of a defibrillator in workplaces, communities and other public locations.

Of the 30,000 cardiac arrests which occur each year in the UK, only 10% survive. 12 young people die each week from cardiac arrest, and of these, 270 of these deaths will occur in school.

So what can we do to change this?

A raised awareness of defibrillators, cardiac arrest and the life-saving treatment which can be applied are essential to see an increase in survival. Simple bystander CPR can help double a victim’s chances of survival, with the inclusion of a defibrillator shock delivered within the first 3-5 minutes of collapse, a casualty’s chances of survival can increase from just 6% to 74%.

Within every workplace, equipment such as fire extinguishers, escape plans and regular drills are put into place by law to ensure the protection of employees against a fire…but what about cardiac arrest?

Statistics show that approximately 300 people will die each year from fires in England; the fatalities of cardiac arrests in the UK are 100,000.

Whilst fire precaution and safety is absolutely essential within every workplace, we feel cardiac arrest prevention simply must be held in just as high priority and made lawful for every workplace to be equipped with an accessible AED. With every minute a victim is in cardiac arrest, chances of survival decrease by 10%, by making AEDs more available for public use and increasing education on the life-saving steps to take in the event of an SCA, we can see a positive change in the fatality rates and increase the public’s ability to save a life.

We have helped many work spaces become “heart safe” with a defibrillator, with some of these devices supplied being the reason for the survival of victims which fell victim to a cardiac event whilst in work.

Whilst defibrillators may look like a complicated piece of tech, they’re designed to be intuitive and easy to use by practically anyone. With audible narration or visual instructions to help guide you through the process one step at a time, from pad application to CPR to shock administration, it’s really never been easier to save a life.

As the most important organ in the body, an investment into the protection of your heart is the most significant one you can make. Education, first aid courses and access to an AED in public areas, schools and the workplace are the most effective ways to prepare for a cardiac arrest and provide victims with the highest chance of survival against cardiac arrest.

For more information on Sudden Cardiac Arrest and defibrillators, please visit

Forum Insight: Pictures from FM Forum and what to expect in 2017

Starting off 2017 as we mean to go on, this year’s first forum ended last week, with people from across the UK booking in to the Radisson Blu Hotel for two days of meeting, greeting, wining and dining with some of the industry’s leading names. With seminars throughout the day tailored to individual industry needs, and meetings through the day to set up the right people, our Forums and Summits offer a bespoke experience for senior figures to get together to learn, share, network and engage.

“Forums like this give me an opportunity to see the people who I would like to work with, get to know more about these companies,” said Javed Sheikh from ICIC Bank UK, “it’s very important for me that I have vendors that are industry accredited and these are the Forums where I get a chance to know more about the companies, know more about what’s happening in the facilities world.”

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“From what I was hearing in the seminars, it’s such a wide field, and want to be able to go back to my office and say to my sales guys ‘right okay we need to be targeting these guys or those guys’” said Ed Taylor, Taylor Made Designs, “I’ve had a couple of meetings this morning and you get such a broad spectrum of people in this sector, it can range from a guy that’s just a one man band facilities manager to a big construction firm who are in charge of multimillion pound projects with hundreds if not thousands of consultants and staff”


“I think you always have to take time off from the job that you do to just take a step back and look around, so for me, meeting people who you wouldn’t necessarily normally have anything to do with is a good thing.”said Carl Boorer from Solid Management, “It’s been a good Forum, you’re always looking for new and fresh ideas. I think if you don’t keep your eyes and ears open then you get left behind, really,”


“We come to this one and the OSH one in February and normally get good results from it,” explained AGF Fire Protection’s Ruth Cunningham, “it’s our main marketing, we don’t do any other advertising, this is what we do.”

If you are interested in attending one of our 27 industry Forums throughout this year, you can send us an email at for more information

Royalty-free music site generates £1m for artists

Music streaming site Jamendo has revealed they paid over £1 million to independent musicians in 2016.

The site and mobile app allow users to browse and stream songs from a base of over 500,000 artists, and profits are generated through their licencing scheme.

Tracks from Jamendo have featured in a number of high profile advertising campaigns, including Sony, Ford and Nestlé, with up to 65% of revenue shared with the artists.

Selling licences for anything from personal or YouTube use, to large-scale advertising, the range in options aims to give the company momentum as the streaming industry continues to grow.

“From the very beginning, the idea was to gather a community of independent music and help create value around it,” said Martin Guerber, music and content manager at Jamendo, who explained how the company fits in among streaming heavy hitters like Spotify or iTunes.

“Our model is quite different than Spotify’s or iTunes’,” he continued, “because it’s mainly focused on providing a free music discovery experience and free services for artists, then using the licensing model to generate revenue and help us keep supporting independent musicians.”

As the popularity of free streaming continues to become the consumer norm, the worry for independent artists is that their music will be heard, but not paid for. However, Martin believes that while free music is becoming more popular, so too is its use in the commercial market.

“The need for music in videos or shops/public places has never been higher,” he said, “In 2017 we are looking to enhancing the artist experience and bring creators more services in order to promote and monetize their music better.”

Guest Blog: Nick Atherton: Playing the M&A percentages in 2017

I think it’s fair to say that even the most prescient could not have predicted the tumultuous year 2016 has turned out to be. The EU referendum, fluctuating currency rates and the US election have all made the market uneasy, and the repercussions will no doubt make trading challenging in 2017. All things considered, business has continued to be solid and the new year will produce opportunities if you know how to navigate the market sensibly. Doing business in volatile climates need not be careless, you can still make a great move and conduct business in a measured way if you know how to ‘play the percentages’.

When the economy is relatively settled, M&A activity usually follows a ‘set menu’. Prospective buyers and sellers are approached, working relationships are forged, wants and needs are identified, and formal negotiations begin based on these desired outcomes. The need for thoroughness is vital at the best of times, but the stakes are higher when facing any kind of economic uncertainty. Advisors with an intimate knowledge of the market can tip the balance in the buyer or seller’s favour, particularly if the appetite for trade is tentative like it currently is. So what can be done? Here are some key points to consider if you’re looking to buy or sell in 2017, a year that will undoubtedly be full of potential stumbling blocks.


Advise to capitalise

 The market can be difficult to gauge when you’re running a business of your own with all kinds of considerations to keep in mind. This is where the expertise of an independent advisor can come into its own, giving you the capability to make informed decisions during the negotiation process while still having time to keep your business running as it should. Advisors know how to get everyone on the same page and are especially useful in suggesting parts of a business that would benefit from some streamlining prior to sale, particularly if they specialise in a certain sector such as facilities management or energy.

One of the common mistakes in M&A is a lack of sound research, whether buying or selling. Knowing what you are getting yourself into is vital if you want to experience the real benefits of a sale or acquisition. An advisor can get to know the intricacies of a possible purchase and ensure that the business, and its books, line up as expected so buyers do not inherit a sinking ship. Similarly, if you are looking to sell, an advisor can build a strategy to earn your business the optimum valuation. It can seem like an extravagance to have someone come in and tell you what to do, but invariably the relationship and transaction benefits all parties when there is a broker on board.


Assess the workforce appetite

With markets being uncertain people are naturally concerned about their jobs. This is a hugely important point to keep in mind when thinking about the possibility of inheriting a workforce. It’s not uncommon for a new management team to shake things up when incorporating a new purchase into their existing portfolio. Of course, this can ruffle a few feathers and make a new purchase more hassle than it is worth. Understanding colleagues’ appetite for new management before making a formal approach can save everyone a lot of wasted time and effort.

While the primary incentive for M&A activity is financial gain, conducting business in an ethical and considerate way should be at the forefront of everyone’s’ mind. Getting to know staff and their opinions makes the negotiation process slightly lengthier, but this ‘vetting’ process can be great for assessing the viability of a prospective deal. It makes sense for everyone; no one inherits a dysfunctional business, reputations are kept intact and most importantly staff are content – and it’s clear by now that contented staff are more productive staff.


Control uncertainty

Sterling has fluctuated wildly, so businesses looking to buy can expect some great value for their money, this is an unavoidable feature of the economy that currently plays heavily into buyers’ favour. However, sellers can still do some simple things to ensure their business sells for the right price, one being simply waiting. Buyers are obviously looking to strike while the iron is hot, but this shouldn’t sway anyone into carelessness. Unpredictability can make otherwise careful decision makers do erratic things, especially when domestic currency is unstable, but sometimes holding back can be the most sensible thing to do. Resisting keen interest is difficult, but markets can change quickly and regret can be a terrible burden to carry into a new project.

Looking oversees, interest in the UK market will remain irrespective of a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ exit from the EU. No matter what your position is on the referendum, business opportunities will reveal themselves whether the UK attains its single market status or not, that much is fact. The great news is that certain sectors weather lean times better than others, so there is still scope for positive developments in the new year, it’s just about knowing when to play your hand or mull things over.

Nick Atherton is MD of Morphose



Guest Blog: Gary Watkins: Software in healthcare – a big opportunity

Gary Watkins, CEO at Service Works Group, talks about the current challenges facing healthcare and the strength of software solutions.

Wherever you stand on the political divide, it’s clear that public healthcare is facing considerable difficulty. The issues are convoluted and divisive, and unfortunately there is no ‘magic bullet’ that will quickly solve it all. The Carter review, published last year, identified a number of issues that needed tackling if the NHS wants to make significant savings. Tellingly, the report demonstrated the need for real-time monitoring solutions that assist both staff and facility managers when going about their day-to-day work.

Irrespective of whether or not you think the NHS needs more funding, there does seem to be a consensus that every pound invested in the public sector needs to see excellent return. This means accurate reporting, measurement and visualisation of workload and productivity are vital if money already spent in the public sector is to remain in favour with both the incumbent government, and more importantly, the taxpayer.

While much of the responsibility to assess and scrutinise value falls within the remit of chosen officials and the figures available to them, there are other methods of accruing data that remain closer to the realities of those working on the ‘front line’. Part of the problem in assessing value lies with officials’ distance from the day to day – rarely will decision makers spend extended periods of time at the business end of a facility. This can mean workers have trouble articulating operational issues, and without solid workplace evidence to corroborate claims, it can be very difficult to suggest changes in a legitimate way. But with so many vital public services running at and over capacity – particularly healthcare – the need for innovative low-risk solutions is clear. So what can be done?


Transformative …

 For healthcare estates, the transformative potential of implementing a strategic CAFM (computer aided facility management) software solution is considerable. Industries’ openness to technological change is testament to the huge benefit that this type of software can have. There has been, and continues to be, exponential growth in the use of software across facility, estate and property management. It may seem dated to speak of the power of software, especially in such a highly connected and rapidly changing world, but there are still certain sectors of the built environment where CAFM has still not been fully realised. It’s important to point this out because entire estates can be monitored to maximise output and value for relatively little expense, especially when compared to the level of labour required for manned on-site auditing. Transparency and information management are vital for managing large areas of space, assets and buildings, as well as the many requests of a diverse workforce and contractual SLAs and KPIs. The comprehensive reporting capability of FM software provides facilities managers with access to business critical information, enabling them to manipulate data to aid strategic FM planning while ensuring complete auditability. In short, in a time when public spending faces unprecedented levels of scrutiny and accountability, the opportunity for CAFM to revolutionise public healthcare is clear.


Case in point …

Service Works Group (SWG) recently completed a bespoke installation of its CAFM software, QFM, at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability (RHN) that fundamentally changed the way its hard services and maintenance team operate. The software moved staff from a spreadsheet based process to a tailored logging and reporting system. After trialling and developing the technology in selected hospital wards, the software was installed across the whole estate within six months. Completion of this work enabled real-time visibility of jobs, giving increased control and a clear measurement of work. In addition, there was a 30% improvement in workflow and enhanced reporting; reducing reporting times from 5 days to 3 minutes.

SWG also had the challenge of training around 600 system-users, some of whom worked nights. This was solved by face-to-face training for key personnel and an online training video. The video featured simple step-by-step instructions and could be viewed alongside the helpdesk portal. This point is significant as one of the key messages that the Carter report looked to communicate was the difficulty in engaging staff with the problem of productivity. It suggested that “engaging all NHS staff around the efficiency challenge has a powerful effect in driving productivity and efficiency, and can significantly improve standards of care”.

In this case, then, installing FM software not only improved operational standards, but also gave staff the opportunity to consciously engage with the issues they face and acknowledge positive changes being made, thus improving morale around the site. This is a key consideration for any work in healthcare, as a collaborative workforce is likely to have knock on effect for patients – which is always top priority.

While the RHN is not a public sector case, the work carried out translates directly to public healthcare, as the issues and needs of the site are identical to that of a typical NHS hospital. If the results are as transformative in this setting as they are in the public sector, the savings could be remarkable for the entire NHS estate.


Representing reality …

Importantly, this case shows the value of real-time monitoring and output data that is accrued in the realities of day to day activity. Staff are able to see what has been completed and what still needs attending to in a simple and effective way. This visibility and ease of reporting also allows for managers to quickly assess and address issues on site, which in turn creates a bank of data that remains representative of the hospitals performance for decision makers to analyse. When factoring in the ability for FM software to easily integrate with other built environment offerings, such as BIM and IoT, there is great potential for genuinely useful change. Therein lies the offering of CAFM, it need not be a fundamentally disruptive or overly complicated overhaul of the workplace, but a simple redesign of how people go about their work and how it is recorded.