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A Different Ball Game

22 April 2009

FM is a business about people with a wide range of skills working in a vast range of facilities delivering effective, efficient and safe services. Working at the Emirates Stadium is a dream job for football fans and facilities engineers alike

(l-r) James De Gouveia, Piotr Zachasski, Daniel Connor, Darren Holman and Usmann Ali

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED what it would be like to work at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium where up to 60,000 spectators pass through the gates on match day? James De Gouveia, consultant at Hays Facilities Management, recently placed three engineers in roles at the stadium, through Balfour Beatty WorkPlace.
Here’s what they had to say to him about their job role and job satisfaction.

Daniel Connor is an engineer at the Emirates Stadium, managing all onsite handling units. Having worked at the stadium as a temp since October, he is now becoming a permanent employee: “The Emirates is the largest location I have ever had the pleasure to work, it is also the most prestigious and high profile. The site itself has a mass of equipment unlike any other place I have worked. My role can be very demanding -
especially on match day. The Emirates is like a sleeping giant, whilst most days it is calm, quiet and easy for me to make my PPMs (planned preventative maintenance), on match days or planned events the stadium really comes to life.

“In most roles you know what a typical day will entail, but here you never know as the work is so diverse, often offering up opportunities for me to do something new. I recently got the chance to present a lecture on my role and responsibilities to a group of visiting students, something I never imagined I would be doing
when I woke up that morning. I can go from fixing a light in a toilet to then fixing a light on the main stadium’s sign or even one on the pitch.

“The 17 acre Emirates stadium site is so large that it can take a while to familiarise yourself with it. Even now, I sometimes have to go somewhere that I’m not sure how to find. Overall this job is very rewarding. At work everyone feels as though they are part of the home team, working behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly.”

Piotr Zacharsk i is a mobile facilities engineer at the Emirates and has worked at the stadium since October 2008. Piotr looks after mechanical and electrical maintenance: “I have a mobile position which means I spend two days in the stadium and three days maintaining the satellite areas, such as the training ground. Being a mobile engineer means my role is incredibly varied. I especially enjoy the benefit of being able to work overtime on match-day. I am a huge Arsenal supporter, so this role is perfect for me!”

Usmann Ali is an air conditioning and refrigeration engineer at the stadium, and has worked at the Emirates for just over a month: “So far this is the best role I have ever had. The location is perfect, the people I work with are great, and I admire the company’s policies and ethics. Pressure is always highest on match day; I get a buzz out of knowing it is more important than ever to ensure that everything runs
smoothly.”

Balfour Beatty WorkPlace, formally known as Haden Building Management, has been working in partnership with Arsenal F.C. for 15 years. Darren Holman is contracts manager with Balfour Beatty WorkPlace, working at the Emirates Stadium, managing all mechanical and electrical services and engineers. Darren has been in his current role for two years and his main responsibilities are financial
and contractual: “Working at the Emirates stadium is, excuse the pun, a totally different ball game. Our time is spent gearing up for match days, which are an intense experience. It is my job to ensure everyone gets their demands met before matches; this boils down to logistics. We tend to get pulled in every direction so I have to be confident that I am prioritising our resources fairly. There are lots of upsides to working at the Emirates; I have bumped into several celebrities and regularly see the footballers - they will usually say ‘hi’
and hold the doors open. This is no longer unusual to me - if you can imagine that. Last summer we did a lot of work behind the scenes for the Bruce Springsteen concerts, we were given the job to transform a box into a dressing room, equipped with a shower, suitable for the pop legend.

“However, when things go wrong, they go really wrong. On one occasion we lost a bank of flood lights, just as the second half of the match had started. Thankfully, as a result of thorough preparation and well-practised procedures, we had them back on within minutes. This job is full of surprises, whether they come during penalties or during the X-Factor auditions there is always something to be done.”


The Emirates
. £390m cost: to build
. 17 acres site
. 60,000 capacity
. 150 executive boxes:
. 30 matches/events per season
. 8 corporate venues holding numerous events weekly
. Two Megastores
. Portfolio includes: Highbury House, Main Training Ground, Youth Academy, Arsenal World of Sport Shop & Reservations Centre

Balfour Beatty
. Working in partnership with Arsenal for nearly 15 years
. Full M&E contract providing PPM, reactive, projects and technical solutions
. Team of 15 provide 24/7 site cover
. 156 floodlights
. 57 AHU's and 200+ supply/extract fans
. 12 chillers and 20 boilers
. N+1 essential power generation and inverter back-up
. Stand-alone generation for Outside Broadcast supplies
5 Specialist pitch ventilation and irrigation systems


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