Behind the Brand – Sue Morris

In this week’s edition of ‘Behind the Brand’, we speak to Sue Morris, one of our company directors as well as a tutor, assessor and the original architect of our BIFM Qualification programmes. Sue is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors, moonlights as a principle moderator for Edexcel and was directly involved in helping BIFM create their suite of qualifications in their initial stages. In short – she really knows her stuff, but don’t take our word for it – here’s a recent LinkedIn conversation that shows just what a few of our former students think of her!

What made you choose FM as a career?

Well, FM is not really my chosen career.  I started out as a Registered Nurse, then trained as a Health Visitor and then as a teacher.  The majority of my teaching career was in the Health Care sector.  I suppose nursing and teaching involves planning and dealing with crises so you could say this has set me up adequately for a career in FM.  I do feel as though I am only on the fringes of FM, however, as my role really involves me organising the training for the FM qualificaitons.

What does it take to be successful in FM?

From my limited experience of the FM industry I feel it requires patience, excellent communication skills and the ability to react quickly to emergency situations – the same skills I needed when I was a nurse.  Being able to deal with rather nasty plumbing situations also helps in both professions!!

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

My current role involves planning and, in some cases, teaching aspects of the BIFM course.  The most enjoyable part of my role is witnessing the growth in confidence of the students who attend our courses, both in terms of their knowledge and understanding of the FM industry but also their own self awareness.

What aspects of your job didn’t you expect?

Dressing up in a blue tutu and blue wig running round Leeds trying to raise money for the local hospice as part of our CSR commitment to the local community!  Seriously, though, I think the fact that FM is such a close knit profession and that most people seem to know someone who knows someone else.  What this means is that in the majority of cases everyone is there to help everyone else.  I find this altruistic attitude most refreshing.

What are your predictions for the FM industry in 2017?

With the advent and nationwide acceptance of the BIFM qualificaitons I forsee a much more professionalised industry with FMs being accepted as experts in their field and a greater move towards the inclusion of FMs on the main Boards of organisations both nationally and internationally.  The role of the FM will change even more with FMs taking on greater responsibility for innovation and business continuity.

What do you wish you had known about the industry before you joined?

How to spell Faciltlies, Faclitys,  Facilities!  I think the diversity of the profession and the influence it can have on the Triple Bottom Line.  It may be described as a ‘support service’ but its influence can be just as important as the core business.  A 10% saving on overheads due to more effective and efficient ways of working has the same effect on the bottom line as a 10% increase in sales.

Describe yourself in three words

Fun-loving

Compassionate

Worrier!

What was your first job?

My very first job was as a Saturday Girl in Woolworths on the biscuit counter.  Having to dodge the mice in the store room meant this job lasted 3 weeks!  I then moved to Lewis’ to work on the cooked meats counter and then got promoted to bedding!

My first proper job was as a student nurse at St James’ Hospital Leeds in the days before student nurses went to University.  My first monthly pay packet was £36.  After qualifying I worked as a Staff Nurse in Norwich and a Ward Sister in London before moving to Germany as a Health Visitor looking after service families.  Teaching came along as a way to get school holidays off – it didn’t work!

Who has influenced your career most and why?

Over the years I have seen many examples of both good and bad practice both in Nursing and Teaching.  Perhaps it is a little cheesy but I suppose the one person that stands out, however, would be my father.  He showed me that you can achieve anything you want to with a bit of effort and that anything is worth a try.  His mantra was “there is no such word as ‘can’t’” and I have carried this forward throughout my work life

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Continue with your nurse training, qualify and then make the decision as to whether to change careers or not.  This one piece of advise – carry through what you have started –  set me up for the rest of my working life and has meant that I have never been out of work.

What is the skill you would most like to have?

To be able to cook!  My cooking skills seem to have deteriorated as I have aged.

What is on your desk?

Piles of paper that need filing – despite trying to work towards a paperless office; my computer and photos of my husband, son, daughter-in-law and my wonderful grandson

What are you passionate about?

My family!  This is the most important thing in my life and I would do anything for them.  After that it would have to be helping people reach their potential.

Who is your business hero?

Richard Branson.  His attitude to motivating his workforce takes some beating and we have adopted some of his policies within our company – unlimited annual leave for example.  They work!  We have the most motivated staff I have come across, totally loyal and have never taken advantage.  Thank you Richard for leading the way!

Describe your perfect day away from work.

Going for a long walk with my husband and dog along the beach in Northumberland and then having afternoon tea in a café that is dog friendly.  This could only be made more perfect if we were accompanied by my son, daughter-in-law and grandson.

What is your greatest work achievement?

Being one of the youngest Ward Sisters to be appointed in my first career ranks pretty highly but helping my husband set up a successful business is perhaps my greatest achievement.

What is your favourite quote/motto?

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m Possible!” – Audrey Hepburn

What is the best/worst quality in a leader?

The best quality is allowing people to realise their potential even if it means they overtake you.

The worst is taking credit for other people’s successes.

What can’t you live without?

My family

What are your Career ambitions?

To make the business as successful as possible to be able to pass it on to the next generation, to help more Facilities Managers achieve their potential through delivery of the BIFM qualificaitons – and then to retire!

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