Blog » How I Became A Senior Facilities Manager

How I Became A Senior Facilities Manager

20th May 2024

The Post: Senior Facilities Manager, The Odyssey Trust

The Post Holder: Paul Grant

Give a brief outline of your career to date.

I’ve worked at The Odyssey Trust since 2018. After initially joining as a Facilities Manager based in The SSE Arena, Belfast, I quickly took up a sitewide role across the Odyssey site, before a promotion to Senior Facilities Manager in 2023. The Odyssey Trust is the charity that was established to hold, manage, safeguard, and develop the investment in Northern Ireland’s millennium project. Comprised of the Stena Line Belfast Giants, The SSE Arena, Belfast, W5 Science & Discovery Centre, W5 LIFE (Learning Innovation for Everyone), and the Odyssey Car Park, The Odyssey Trust welcomes upwards of one million guests across the site every year.

What was your favourite subject at school?

My favourite subject was science. I enjoyed the challenge of carrying out experiments and seeing how different chemicals reacted with each other.

Did you go on to further or higher education? If so, what did you study and where?

I decided early on that I didn’t want to go to university because I’m more of a hands-on, practical kind of person. At that stage, I decided to do an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering, which I did for three years. I then went on to do an electrical apprenticeship and an advanced electrical engineering qualification, which means I’m now eligible to teach electrical engineering at college if required. Fast forward to now, I’m currently completing a building services engineering HNC (Higher National Certificate).

Is this what you always wanted to do?

Like a lot of people, I wasn’t exactly sure of the route that I wanted to take when I was younger, but at the time, I felt like doing an apprenticeship was the best plan of action. I knew I didn’t want to go to university, but I wanted to go into a career that allowed me to be hands-on in a practical environment, so what I’m doing now is an ideal fit and I get to work within some of Northern Ireland’s most exciting brands across sport, education, and entertainment.

Were there any essential qualifications or experience needed?

While the only key requirement is to be a qualified electrician, I think it’s important to be a goal-driven person with a critical eye. You want to hold everything you do to a high standard, both from a pride perspective, but also to make sure that you’re doing your best for the benefit of guests and colleagues.

Are there alternative routes into the job?

I’d say you probably could go to university and study an electrical engineering-focused course, but, again, the big thing with this particular role that I’m in at the minute is that you need to start with the basics and build the various layers of domestic, commercial, and industrial knowledge, along with the different trades, such as building, electrical, and mechanical, and build your knowledge in those aspects of work.

What are the main personal skills your job requires?

I’d say that organisation and effective communication are the two biggest personal skills that allow me to be successful in this job. On top of that, you need to be fairly clued in with the IT and admin side of the role and also have a strong understanding of your trade.

What does a typical day entail?

It may sound clichéd but no two days are the same at The Odyssey Trust due to the variety of our offering across the site. Usually, we make sure that our engineers and contractors have a list of jobs that need to be undertaken, however, it’s not that straightforward sometimes. By the nature of the industry that we operate in, you often need to be fairly reactive, but it’s always exciting onsite nonetheless.

What are the best and most challenging aspects of the job?

Being a well-known business in Northern Ireland, the best part of the job is definitely taking pride in holding the facility that we operate to the highest standard it can possibly be. One of the challenges of maintaining older buildings, such as ours, which is coming up to 25 years old, is that some of the assets require daily upkeep, however, Odyssey continues to invest in its facilities and offerings to allow us to provide the best possible experience.

Why is what you do important?

From a health and safety perspective, the role is important to ensure that the site is safe and well maintained for guests and members of staff. We need to make sure that we’re on top of our game in terms of looking after all of the assets onsite, making sure that we’re playing our part in helping people have the best experience every time.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow a similar career path?

Without question, you need to know your trade. It’s important to make sure that the qualifications or certificates that you have are constantly up to date to make sure that you’re giving yourself the best opportunity at securing the position you want.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you like to do?

I have a passion for classic cars, and currently do a little bit of restoration in my spare time. At the moment, I have a small workshop that I operate out of, so when I need somewhere to go to clear my head and relax, it’s where I like to spend my time.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to yourself on your first day?

Keep setting goals for yourself to achieve, and always have a willingness to learn and develop new skills at every stage of your career.

Describe your ideal day off.

Tinkering in my workshop with my classic car collection!

And finally, what’s the key to any successful job search?

From my perspective, it’s so important to research the company and gain a better understanding of what they do, who their customers are, and how they operate. It’s also always important to see whether the company is a good fit for what you’re looking to achieve career-wise.

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