IFMA Nigeria Chapter Harps on Innovation, Research to Maintain Global Best Practice

Fadekemi Ajakaiye

As part of deliberations reached in commemoration of World Facility Management Day 2024, organised by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) Nigeria Chapter, Facility Managers have highlighted the need for innovation and research to maintain global best practices.

World Facility Management Day is held in May every year to celebrate the role of Facility Managers as essential workers in the built environment in a sustainable economy. This year’s event is themed: “Inspire, integrate, innovate: Ignite your career in FM.”

In his welcome address, the President of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) Nigeria chapter, ESV Olalekan Akinwumi, stated that in a fast-changing world, Facility Managers must review their processes to incorporate innovative approaches to their jobs, leverage the cross-disciplinary landscape of Facility Management, and inspire professional best practices in the course of their duty.

He said, “This year, we are considering the four I’s—Inspire, Integrate, Innovate, and Ignite; these are crucial to Facility Managers. You have to innovate; for things that you thought were impossible, you have to think outside the box. The world is dynamic, so you have to use technology to achieve what you want.

“Every day, there is development all around us. We must make sure that our facilities are working. New buildings, structures, and infrastructures are being developed. We must operate at optimum capacity to elongate their lives.”

In her Keynote Address to IFMA, Human Resource expert and Head, Broot Consulting, Mrs. Gbemi Ibrahim, opined that while the theme of the event effectively captures the trajectory of career growth for professionals, to make for cutting-edge value delivery, Facility Managers must look towards mapping their career to operate optimally in the workplace.

She advised that Facility Managers must have a clear sense of direction on their career journey and stick to it. As professionals who work in a multidisciplinary industry, your career objectives should be well directed.

“In mapping your career, identifying your skill gaps, and moving forward to say, I’m giving myself so and so number of years to bridge it is important. Take courses to bridge skill gaps. Professional certification gives you credibility if you want to pivot especially for a multidisciplinary field like facility management.

“Once you have your career objectives defined, you will identify the skills and competences required, you must have done your skill gap analysis, know where to start and have given yourself the number of years to get there.”

On her part, the Dean of Environmental Sciences, University of Lagos, Prof. Modupe Omirin, noted that practitioners must deploy a value-driven approach to work.

She argued that if organisations do not have a sense of added value due to the work done by Facility Managers, they may not be inclined to give professional attention to Facility Managers as essential workers, and the lack of regard for practitioners may persist.

Omirin explained that “the issue of innovation is critical to Facility Management. Most organisations do not value facility management, so they don’t give enough attention to their requests until the problem arises.”

“When you bring in fresh ideas that proactively anticipate problems and solve them before they arise, people will begin to value Facility Managers more than they have been doing.”

Also speaking at the plenary, Engr. Olumide Aina, a lecturer at the University of Lagos, noted the need for continuous learning through research to broaden indigenous problem-solving in Facilities Management.

He opined that through research, FM practitioners can develop homegrown solutions to current industry problems for optimum service delivery.

“The world has moved from facilities management of bricks and mortar, our clients want us to solve problems at the snap of our fingers. As Facility Managers, we have to be open-minded and engage in research. It is through research that you can identify solutions for the future. We need people to move from our traditional way of thinking and move in the direction the world is moving so that we can positively influence how our clients live, work and play.

“I advise facility management companies to set aside a certain percentage of their annual profit to research to develop homegrown solutions in the industry. Do not wait for international organisations to develop solutions for us,” Aina stated.

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