Paul Larkin – Promotion for HIQA Manager with Facilities & Workplace Management Degree

BSc (Hons) in Workplace and Facilities Management

Facilities Management

With over two decades of experience in facilities management, Portobello Institute graduate, Paul Larkin, is now working in the career he wants as Facilities and Health and Safety Manager at the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

With a wealth of knowledge and experience, it was Paul’s intrinsic drive to continuously improve himself and his career which led him to completing a BSc (Hons) in Workplace and Facilities Management at Portobello Institute.

“I have had the pleasure over the years of working in a variety of industries such as the bar trade, manufacturing, printing and financial institutes, all of which were customer-focused roles.

“I moved into facilities in 2002 while working in one of the leading banks in Ireland at the time. It was here I found that my collective experience in customer-facing roles came to the fore.

“Realising the vital link between facilities and health and safety, I undertook further education in Workplace Health and Safety Management, ensuring that the two disciplines worked hand in hand.

“While I had worked in facilities management for almost 16 years, I felt it was time to seek formal accreditation and undertook a Higher Diploma course in FM in 2018.

“Currently working in the public sector, I acknowledge that further education increases the opportunity for promotion, as such I undertook my degree with Portobello Institute,” he said.

Paul explains what led him to take on his degree at this stage of his career.

“I left school after finishing my Leaving Certificate because, at that time, going on to third-level education was not an option for me.

“While working in various industries, I realised that the advantage that college education provides could ultimately stand in my way of exceeding in my chosen career.

“While working in the financial sector, I was offered the opportunity to study Health and Safety, which opened the door to advancing my education.

“Since then, I have taken every opportunity to progress my knowledge base, securing additional diplomas in Security Management, Criminology and Facilities Management. Given my experience in dealing with customers, I also trained to become an instructor in First Aid Responder, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Cardiac First Responder (CFR) and Manual Handling all of which improved my employment prospects, ensuring I would be an asset to any employer.

“As with all professionals, there is a drive to continuously advance not just my career but my knowledge and competencies.

“After achieving a Higher Diploma in Facilities Management, the next obvious step was to undertake a BSc course. The achievement of this would increase my promotional prospects as well as achieving my own personal goals,” he said.

Paul considered many options before choosing Portobello for its affordability, accessibility, and reputation.

“Opting to attend Portobello Institute was based on a number of factors. Obviously, the financial side was a considerable element of this as the need to secure good value for money was essential, however, money was not the only consideration.

“Accessibility was important, as the course was provided primarily online it afforded me a lot of flexibility on how I could study. Not having to attend in person every week allowed me to balance my education with my family life.

“In addition, while there are numerous institutes offering the BSc in FM, the reputation of Portobello stood out, as did its affiliation with the London Metropolitan University. I am aware that the name of the institute one attends can be a deciding factor when employers are seeking to fill a position,” he said.

It had been a couple of years since Paul engaged in academic writing, and he found adjusting wasn’t too difficult, while the lecturer’s style helped him to have an improved shared learning experience with classmates.

“Prior to attending Portobello, I last engaged in Academic writing in 2018, I had foreseen some challenges in reverting from business writing to academic, however, I did find the transition easier than anticipated. This did make the experience better than expected.

“Interestingly, I found the level of interaction to be much better with the lecturers. While each had their own style of delivering the class, the majority adopted a very conversational approach, which promoted more interaction and feedback from students. This promoted a shared learning experience for all, allowing students to add to the topic based on their experience,” he said.

Paul found the blended learning online delivery of the course particularly helpful for his lifestyle.

“One of the benefits of studying at Portobello was the ability to learn remotely. This gave me more time to share with family, as working full-time can be demanding.

“The extra requirement to physically attend college every Saturday would have had a negative impact on my decision to undertake this course.

“A second and just as important benefit was the open, friendly manner of the classes. Every student was encouraged to actively participate in discussions and to share their experience with others.

“As I have been employed in the FM Sector for over 20 years and could share a lot of practical information which supported the academic element of the course.

“The lecturers on this course were very supportive. Not only in delivering the course material but in assisting and guiding students with their assignments. I found some of the feedback very helpful, allowing me to gain better results overall,” he said.

Paul shared some insights into his career following graduation, where he was financially rewarded for his educational progression.

“I am employed in the public sector, where promotion is difficult to achieve. Having both the FM and health and safety qualifications allowed me to gain the grade promotion I was seeking.

“The combination of the roles ensures I can implement effective controls across all our buildings so I don’t just keep them operational, I keep them safe.

“This was the role I was performing previously; I did however move up a few grades, so the financial reward was a bonus,” he said.

Paul described his role and shared insights into his day-to-day activities working at HIQA.

“Each day is a bit of an unknown, as you never know what is around the corner. While there are set tasks to perform, I am lucky in so far as I have a small team working for me who address all the daily tasks and checks. Maintaining an operational building will bring challenges, but having the right structure in place allows my team to stay ahead of most issues.

“We have developed strong relationships with our contractors, and this allows us to get issues resolved quickly.

“However, on my side, I tend to find that I spend a lot of time liaising with colleagues and Senior Management addressing their concerns or their requirements.

“For example, I have recently sought and fitted out additional properties in Cork and Galway and will now be looking at refurbishing two of our older offices.

“Obviously, as a result of the introduction of hybrid working, we need to ensure that our office space can offer more than just desk space. The redesign will focus on collaboration space to allow colleagues who attend the office to make much better use of their time.

“Health and safety also play a large role in my day-to-day activities. While one tends to think of contractor management as being the key focus for FM Managers, the other side of the coin involves colleague safety.

“Display Screen Assessments for all colleagues in both the office and the home working environments has taken on a new lease of life, as the home office is considered a workplace between the hours of 9 – 5.

“Distribution of equipment and furniture to all colleagues is also critical. Thankfully our turnover rate is relatively low so when items are delivered it is generally for a long period of time.

“The addition the home workplace also adds to the role of any FM Manager. We have in theory moved from having 4 offices to having over 400, so the workload has increased considerably for my team and I,” he said.

Portobello Institute offers a BSc (Hons) in Facilities & Workplace Management, Level 9 PGC Innovation for Sustainability in the Workplace, a Postgraduate Certificate in Facilities Management an MSc in Facilities & Workplace Management and more.

If you are interested in any of our Facilities Management 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.

Paul Larkin – Promotion for HIQA Manager with Facilities & Workplace Management Degree Paul Larkin – Promotion for HIQA Manager with Facilities & Workplace Management Degree