Patrick McMahon – Securing Promotion in His Dream Career with Facilities Management Degree
BSc (Hons) in Facilities and Workplace Management
“Having an education and degree in Facilities Management (FM) has excelled my career. Before achieving my degree, my goal was to grow internally at Guidewire and push for promotion.
“Without my degree in FM I do not think this would have been achievable and as with many senior roles, third-level education is a basic requirement to hold so I am delighted that I was able to tick this off the list,” he said.
His career started a decade ago, back when he ‘didn’t know what facilities management really meant or what it entailed’. He explains his pathway to finding and following his passion for FM. From working in customer service to spending two years in Canada, Patrick moved into facilities management when he returned to Ireland.
“When I returned to Ireland, I began to search for specific roles in facilities management where I was lucky to get an opportunity as a senior facilities coordinator working at a large international bank. I gained some good experience over the one year that I was here and then moved on to my next role working at a global social media company, again as a senior facilities coordinator.
“I was here for one year but was in a contract position and unfortunately for me COVID-19 arrived and my role quickly became redundant. Knowing that this might have been the case I was interviewing elsewhere and was again lucky to find another role during COVID-19 at my current employer, Guidewire, as a senior facilities specialist. I’ve been here for three years and now manage our EMEA operations,” he said.
Patrick’s decision to gain his degree came from a desire to match his experience with a qualification and pursue his ambition for more senior management roles.
“There were a couple of reasons to go back to education. I had tried education out of school and it never clicked with me. I preferred to be working and earning during that stage of my life and I knew experience was as relative and education in some cases.
“However, as I grew in my career, I always felt that not having a formal education was a hindrance and I grew conscious of the fact that many people younger than me coming from college were quickly passing me out.
“I knew I had to go back to education to keep up with the field around me and to move onto the next level in my career it was important that education would propel me there,” he said.
When choosing a course that was right for him, Patrick wanted something that allowed him to follow his passion for facilities management while maintaining a work/life balance.
“Following my passion is one of the main reasons that I wanted to go back to education and find a course that suited me and that’s what Portobello offered.
“Nobody goes out and seeks a career in facilities management from the get-go. It’s typically a role people fall into or end up in as this was my case. My journey evolved over time and with that grew my passion for facilities management.
“What I love about facilities management is the complexity of roles we cover on a day-to-day basis. We are what makes a company tick in the background. A vital cog in the system, from everything we do such as maintenance, HVAC and electrical, cleaning, security people management.
“The reason for choosing Portobello was the course, the office and the type of learning outcomes and modules covered. I feel they offered the best range of modules to expand my knowledge and experience and the course had like minding people from similar backgrounds or coming from facilities management to re-educate themselves.
“There were a couple of facilities management courses to choose from but the flexibility that Portobello offered was best in class. It allowed me to work and continue my career while being able to study part-time on a schedule that suited me.
“I had a great experience while attending Portobello. The college offered a lot of support and other students were very approachable and easy to work with. The college has a great sense of collaboration between lecturers and students.
“This made the whole experience much easier to deal with and got us through large parts of the course. I was fortunate to attend the college classes in person before COVID-19 and when we moved to online classes the college handled the transition very well given the large number of attendees and adjusting to sharing of information and course materials.
“Anyone looking to go to Portobello to study will have a great time here and the college will fully support you to achieve your goals to gain the necessary experience needed in any of the fields taught here,” he said.
Following graduation, Patrick is a Workplace Supervisor and Guidewire Software Ireland. He explains more about his role.
“Guidewire is a global software company specifically within the insurance industry. My role at Guidewire is to manage the operations of our EMEA portfolio. We have a total of eight offices across Europe with Dublin being our EMEA HQ.
“As many in facilities know we manage various hats of the business, some of these for me are Budgeting, Vendor Management, Real Estate Management, Food & Beverage Programs, Health, Safety & Security and some people management are a few of the main areas I focus on.
“The key areas I work in are; Budgeting, Vendor Management, Real Estate Management, Project Management, Build & Fit-outs, Food & Beverage Programs, Health, Safety & Security and some people management.
“In a typical day, I could be doing several of these tasks throughout the day and would certainly touch on every aspect of them at some point.
“Budgeting is a constant focus in FM. I have to ensure that all my sites are running operationally, all PPMs are being carried out, cleaning and soft service are at the highest levels, have sufficient office supplies, snacks and materials for employees to be engaged and have a good experience when in the office.
“All of these things cost money and I need to ensure I spend my allocated budget correctly. We work with a large facilities management company across our portfolio so a large portion of my time is spent managing their performance and achieving the best results for each of our offices, this can come down to office improvements, cleaning, re-stocking supplies, ticketing system and reporting on data and metrics.
“As we have a lot of offices in EMEA I spend quite a bit of time travelling to our locations to work with our teams locally and to get a feel of how things are running and what changes we might need to make.
“As I work with many other teams such as IT, Legal, Procurement and HR it’s important that I have a good understanding of how each team works and how various policies and procedures may impact the workplace and facilities management. It is key to have good relationships with these teams so we can work together to achieve success.
Patrick believes strong communication and collaboration skills are central to his success in facilities management.
“The best way to describe this is to always, always ask questions. This is so important in FM. We meet new challenges every day and most likely something we’ve never encountered before.
“So, when you do have an issue, ask the experts you use around you to educate yourself on the topic and get to the root cause. This will develop your experience tenfold and hands-on experience is the best way to learn on the job.
“Use the resources around you such as your manager and senior staff to learn from them. I cannot stress enough how important this is to anyone’s success.
“They are there to help you succeed and achieve your teams’ goals together. Personally, I find the best way to get this type of success is to hold one-to-one conversations with your manager and your team members. This will help you both communicate better with each other and remove any ambiguity or challenges in the team,” he said.
Patrick is looking to a bigger and brighter future with the ambition to study even further.
“I enjoy my role now; I feel that I am growing in my position every day and achieving a high level of success on my job.
“I take a lot of pride in what I have learned so far and how I can apply that to my day-to-day and others around me.
“There is still a lot of potential yet to fill as I climb the ladder in FM but it is something that I am keen on doing and see where this road takes me.
“Perhaps a Master’s with Portobello could be on the agenda down the line. I am excited to see how my career will develop over the next five years,” he said.
Portobello Institute offers a BSc (Hons) in Facilities & Workplace Management, Level 9 PGC Innovation for Sustainability in the Workplace, Postgraduate Certificate in Facilities Management and an MSc in Facilities & Workplace Management and more.
If you are interested in any of our Facilities Management degrees or qualifications, you can book a consultation call with our expert FM advisor Brandon McLean, email [email protected] or call 01 892 0035. Visit our Facilities Management department here.