The global classroom | Macro

The global classroom


Hugh Henderson, Director of Consultancy

I’m heading back to the UK after a spell supporting another Middle East client with ambitions that dwarf the norm for many Western organisations.  While I’ve been delivering I’ve also been learning and fortunate to work alongside an international team of real estate, finance and FM experts.  The aim is to transform the desert into a city that will support almost half a million people; it’s no mean feat and it’s happening before our very eyes.  We’ve been knitting together strategies that embrace technology, sustainability, safety, security and new city living.  Add in major sporting venues, world class retail and business centres, hotels, high class residential communities, vast landscaped areas, beach side resorts and mass transit public transport system and you start to see the vision for a whole new city.

I must respect confidentiality but the country might even host a global sporting event in the not too distant future.  Getting to grips with the needs of Facilities and Asset Management is just one of the many challenges that face the client and its associated national institutions. The programme will be delivered over the next 10 years and it’s made up of lots of bite-sized chunks – and some will need to be chewed over longer than others!

So how do you tackle a programme of such magnitude and what can you learn?

My input to the project has been just one small element of a huge team effort.  That spirit of teamwork and collaboration involves experts from around the globe. It’s about pulling together our collective experience and skills to give our client the foundation for taking forward asset and facilities management on a city-wide scale.  Our classroom is global with case studies from the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas.  The challenges are similar and the lessons learned can be shared.  It’s about putting the right strategies in place, engaging with the supply chain, finding the right people and using new technology.  Managing and controlling costs start at the design stage and getting the focus on service standards and life cycle costs is imperative from the outset. 

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  And you’re right, it might be a different country, a different culture and a different climate but the main lessons from the global classroom can be applied to any project, large or small, in the East, West, North or South.   So what do I take from this latest experience? It starts with vision and ambition; teamwork and knowledge-sharing bring the expertise.  After that a continuous drive from the top sees the vision become reality.   An abundant supply of natural gas and several trillion dollars sure help, but it’s first and foremost about people.  That’s a lesson that applies no matter where you work.