Making the grade

Written by: Jack Flanagan
Published on: 2 Mar 2020

Jack FlanaganJack Flanagan shares his experience of the IWFM Level 4 Qual-in-a-week course.

Like many people in FM, I became involved in the industry through the non-academic route. After my dream career as a rugby player was cut short by injury and a realisation that  it wouldn’t put a roof over my head, I found myself working in a junior role at Pareto FM as a help-desk administrator at ZSL Whipsnade and London Zoo.

I loved the work I had been doing for the first three months and it was great to get stuck into the real foundations of the FM industry that I knew I could thrive in.

Why I wanted to study
Luckily for me, my employer shared a similar excitement for my career and offered to take me on a journey that would include various training courses to develop further my knowledge of the industry and me as a future manager.

The thought of an employer investing in my future was surreal and something I really appreciated. I was excited to learn new skills, but at the same time concerned.

The thought of completing any type of academically based, school-structured training course filled me with dread. My learning style just didn’t fit this type of environment – I get more success with just cracking on with things and using common sense to solve problems.

How I chose the course
After consulting with my peers and discussing my learning style, we researched the sector for development opportunities that I could excel in. We came across the IWFM Level 4 Qual-in-a-week. It was like all my development wishes came true at once. IWFM is the most prominent training provider in the sector and I was keen to ensure that I was accredited to one of its courses.

The course was intensive – six months of criteria packed into one week – so I knew this would throw me well outside my comfort zone, but I was up for the challenge. These factors, coupled with being one of the first in the world to achieve the IWFM Level 4 accreditation in a week, forced me to go full throttle into the opportunity. I’m so glad I did.

What the qualification entails
The course covered facilities management as a broad function, introducing me to many subjects I hadn’t encountered before such as financial management, space management/utilisation and energy/utilities management.

I particularly enjoyed the unit on ‘Innovation in FM’ – the key focus of this is developing the industry, while keeping up to date with the changes in technology and people. I thrived on this shorter course. Being out of my usual workplace for a week and taken into that new environment sharpened my focus.

By consolidating the syllabus into one week, it offers a perfect mix of study, pressure, content and sharing of experiences for FMs to thrive.

Can you do it?
It’s hard to balance these factors while trying to execute your daily job, but I strongly recommend the course to other FMs who struggle with lengthy study application.  

It’s a moderately demanding week, involving homework, home study and a few challenging tasks. But since completing the course I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve recited my new knowledge and it has propelled me as a budding FM.

The course is classroom-based with a mixture of tasks such as professional discussions, recorded presentation, group collaboration and written questions – but delivered so learners are comfortable to absorb the content.

I loved this course. It was tailored to my learning styles and threw me out of my comfort zone, but I found myself thriving.

After completing the IWFM Level 4 I have caught the bug and have applied to another IWFM course to discover the ‘What’s next?’. I have found my career in FM and want to continue to progress along the defined IWFM journey. 

Jack Flanagan is FM coordinator at Pareto FM