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Portrait: Meet the feisty head FM who oversaw Wolverine UK's workplace makeover

Author : David Strydom

14 May 2015

Tahera Hammond
Tahera Hammond

Tahera Hammond, the head FM who worked with Burtt-Jones & Brewer to redesign Wolverine UK's workspace in London, credits her hardworking mother for her own career success and for her reputation as a ‘grafter’

She’s quite a livewire, Tahera Hammond. From the moment I meet her in the Bow Lane offices of Burtt-Jones & Brewer, I know I’m in for an entertaining interview. And she doesn’t disappoint. At one point during the hour-long meeting, I ask her where she’s from.

“Bolton,” she says with undeniable pride. “I put my honesty and transparency 100% down to the fact that I’m a good Northern bird.” Immediately realising that her tongue has beaten her political correctness barometer to the punch, she says: “Don’t put ‘bird’ in!”

Too late! I’m thoroughly enjoying listening to something rare – someone who speaks their mind. “Honestly, though,” she continues, “what you see is what you get, there's no b*****t. That’s how I’ve been raised. I have so much to thank my mother for, she’s done such a great job – we’re grafters and I think that’s why I’m good at FM.”

Indeed, honesty and hard graft are prominent marks of Hammond’s work ethic. She attributes that to her mother and to doing the paper-round as a child. “I was recently getting to know a manager at my new job and he said: ‘Did you do a paper round?’ I said: ‘Did I do a paper round! I used to get up at 4am to open the shop and get the papers ready so the paperboys could do their rounds. And if they didn’t turn up, I had to do it – regardless of the weather’. He replied: ‘That’s going to be my one and only interview question going forward; if someone’s done a paper round, they’re hired!’”

Like many of her peers in the sector, Hammond didn’t initially seek out a job in FM. “My first exposure to FM was between 2001-2006 while working for Metro Safety which tested fire alarms and emergency lights. I didn’t make a conscious decision to get into FM – they were looking for an operations manager, so I successfully applied for the job.”

It was, says Hammond, more about dealing with skills associated with running operations as opposed to FM. “From there, I moved onto a role with the managing agent Drivers Jonas between 2006-2009. The agent looked after properties that had their fire alarms and emergency lights tested, hence the connection to Metro Safety. I joined as the administration manager, then became the FM for the UK and Europe.”

The Drivers Jonas role was the one where she performed her first ‘proper’ facilities job, Hammond says. “I had the most amazing COO who understood facilities and property, so I got great steer and direction – and he’s still my mentor. It was in that job I thought ‘I can make a career of this’. I just took on more facilities-related tasks. It’s all about process efficiency but if you do that you get everything else right.”

Despite the fact that she's interested in most aspects of FM, Hammond is nonetheless particularly drawn to some subjects more than others. “I like reading up on user satisfaction in the workplace – how my staff feels because they're my customers at the end of the day. I want to know what titillates them, and what I can do to try to titillate them.”

She also tries to understand everything she can about supply and contract management. “We’re an expense to an organisation, so I want to know if I’m doing my job properly. Am I benchmarking my suppliers and contractors and giving them the right KPIs?”

Then there’s her preoccupation with ‘anything environmental’. “While I was at Drivers Jonas, we became carbon neutral, complying with ISO 14001. After that I worked for Low Carbon Workplace, dealing with low carbon. Anything environmental strikes a chord although I’m not a tree-hugger by any stretch.”

Hammond is never more passionate than when talking about FM itself. “I love facilities. I can’t understand why people don’t get it. I’m so passionate about it – I really am. I think we do such a great job. I love it, I love my profession.”

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