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Making a Difference

19 February 2010

The Lifetime Achievement in FM Award recognises an individual who has made a significant contribution to the development of FM. Its first winner has used his expertise to transform FM strategies and practice, and support academic excellence

Michael Cant

THE FIRST RECIPIENT OF THE Lifetime Achievement in FM Award presented at the PFM Awards 2009, is Michael Cant, Director of Larch Consulting and one of the earliest proponents of FM as a professional discipline in the UK. He trained as an architect before migrating to FM. “Architecture touches people and organisations in a very visual manner. Great design with poor operational FM is awful, so by the mid 1980’s I was involved in designing and managing large portfolios of properties.”
Active in FM for over 25 years, he has continued to take a leading role both in the initiatives he has conceived and developed for clients, and in the work he has done to raise the profile of the FM profession.
Cant is considered to be one of the country’s leading experts on service improvement and innovation and has led programmes to develop and improve FM services for many well known organisations such as Diageo, Sainsburys, De Beers Diamond Trading Company, the Scottish Government, Kings College, University of London and Hammerson Properties.
According to Chris Brady of Diageo Global Procurement, working with Mike Cant has taken the company’s FM performance to a new level which has been, he says, “Nothing short of transformational in delivering a dramatic stepchange in service, quality and value against a multi-million FM annual investment, across our entire GB & Ireland estate of more than 40 offices and production sites. Mike is massively engaging, highly energetic, extremely motivational and truly inspiring in his absolute mastery of his knowledge and experience, plus his great leadership qualities.”
Cant has also made a significant contribution to the body of learning of FM as an emerging profession from writing articles, making conference speeches and presentations, lecturing and leading training courses. He is currently an external examiner for the MSc in FM course at Sheffield Hallam University and previously undertook this role for the qualification at College of Estate Management. He has worked with National School of Government to develop early FM training programmes for public sector managers.
His contribution to the development of professional institutions has been vital. He was a founding member of the Asset Skills Council FM Board and has recently completed a term as Vice Chair of the RICS FM Faculty. His company Larch Consulting has been an active supporter of the BIFM since its inception, and for a number of years sponsored the BIFM’s Excellence in Customer Service Award.
Fiercely independent and never prepared to settle for anything less than excellence, he has made a significant contribution to facilities management in the UK. This stance is reflected in his response when asked about his most significant achievement in FM, he highlighted his work at Larch Consulting. “The most significant achievement I think I and my colleagues at Larch have done is to work with everyone from the boiler house engineer to the boardroom CEO to fundamentally reconstruct FM operational models
that are designed specifically for the client. We don’t pander to either outsource or contracted-in marketing hype or pressure. We are honest and focused, and the way I see it is that if I can work collaboratively and with mutual respect with all manner of individuals, it’s all worth it!”
Asked to consider what is next for the future of FM, Cant replied, “In some respects 2010
represents the watershed for the UK – economically, politically and socially. Much has been achieved over the past 25 years in FM but the challenge ahead for businesses both large and small are going to be of a different quantum than we have experienced before. Where previously clients have been happy to accept a fairly simple re-organisation, an aggregation of services, a bit of training, a new CAFM system, and some new sub-contract squeezing to generate the 5-10 percent savings, the ‘new order’ will be a 20-30 percent downsize plus massively improved service levels.”
Cant foresees that the next couple of years will be an exciting and critical turning point for FM and business infrastructure. “Watershed or not, the combined challenges represented by declining public sector investment, tough economic restraint, limited funding sources and demand for improved customer service and value, will test our prevailing models. The recession has hit our sector hard, but this is presenting silver-lining opportunities for reshaping and reworking within infrastructure services and amongst suppliers. It is in this dynamic landscape where I will be fully engaged from now on.”
● Next month, PFM will feature an exclusive interview with Michael Cant about his plans for reshaping delivery of FM services to be radically more efficient and effective.
Read more Michael Cant's career and contribution to FM


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