Paul Tallon – Unlocking Career Progression with FM Degree
Alumni of BSc (Hons) in Facilities and Workplace Management
As is the case with many people who work in facilities management, Paul Tallon had multiple years of experience before he decided to re-enter the world of education. An electrician by trade, Paul worked his way up the facilities management ladder.
Before his current role with Hali, a real estate company based in Dublin, Paul gathered a wealth of experience as a facilities manager including roles with companies in Perth, Australia, the Office of Public Works, and the iconic Jervis Shopping Centre.
In 2019, with over a decade of experience in the industry under his belt, he decided to undergo the BSc in Facilities & Workplace Management at Portobello Institute. However, it wasn’t his first educational experience with Portobello.
“I started in Portobello with my certificate. Then I went on and did my diploma. Then I went on to do my degree. I’ve had that range of levels and expectations throughout the three courses.
“I think why I did the degree has a couple of reasons to it. One is that I wanted to have that graduation moment. It was more of a personal bucket list item for me. It was also to have that academic line on my CV having worked in facilities for so long,” he said.
While practical experience is an important part of any FM professional’s CV, having an academic qualification can often be the key to unlocking doors to career progression. Something that Paul has already been able to avail of since finishing his degree in 2021.
“It definitely has helped my career. It’s given me more opportunities on a steppingstone front. It’s been good for me to be able to apply the modules that we learned in the degree into my working life,” he said.
Paul serves as Associate Director of Technical Services for Hali, where he is responsible for the strategic direction of all technical design, installation, operation, and maintenance activities across the Hali residential portfolio.
It is a role he is relishing and says there are many enjoyable aspects to his daily working life.
“The best part of my job is human interaction. To be a facilities manager, I think you need to have people skills. You need to know how to speak to people. You also need to know how to say no, but in a polite way.
“You need to have comradery within your team. You need to have good business relationships with your contractors, even just for emergency purposes if you need to call on them.
“And in order to be a facilities manager in this day and age, you need to have passion for the building. You need to know how the building operates from the top to the bottom.
“There’s a lot of diversity. You do have a structure within facilities management with your cleaning company, your security company, and your waste company. As long as you have them humming, they can look after themselves. Especially if they’re outsourced.
“If they’re in-house you do have to put a little bit more of a spin on their roles. You have to make sure the building is fit for purpose and it’s safe for the occupants to come in,” he said.
With diversity comes its own challenges. Facilities managers like Paul have to be equipped with the knowledge to, as he puts it, “put out fire after fire”, but it is something that Paul takes in his stride.
“There are no two days the same in facilities management. You can come in with a plan of how you want your day to go and within the space of five minutes a spanner can be thrown in the works. You normally start the role by liaising with residents or liaising with tenants. You’re just putting out fire after fire.
“The analogy of my FM role would be that you’re the person at the end of the finger whether it’s for the right reason or the wrong reason.
“Mornings and afternoons in FM, depending on the industry, are pretty different. To be honest, a facilities manager never sleeps. Six o’clock would be the shut-off time but you’re always available thereafter if something was to go wrong. Facilities management is a bit like property management. It’s 24/7, 365 days of the year.
“I think you need to have passion for the role that you’re in. You need to have knowledge of a lot of systems whether they be soft or hard. The broad spectrum of facilities is great. Every day is a learning day really in FM. Every day is different,” he said.
Paul has gained that knowledge through years of hard work and now his degree which contains a number of key modules that he says have really aided his working life.
“Thinking back to the degree, your financial model comes into play. Your P&L budgets and your normal day-to-day operations.
“Other modules that came into play were leadership and people management. We got a lot of that from tutorials and the tutors here at Portobello. That was great from my point of view. There were elements where I took the tutor’s direction to aid me and facilitate those daily operations,” he said.
His advice for anyone considering taking the leap back into education is plain and simple.
“Go for it. Any degree is going to be a slog. There’s a lot of work you have to put in. But you do get the benefits and reap the rewards afterwards.
“Portobello has been great to me and my classmates. It’s one that if you are thinking about, just give Portobello a shout. They have all the information. From a student’s perspective, it’s a worthwhile degree to do.”
If you want to learn more about any of our FM degrees and qualifications, you can visit our department page here.
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 here, email [email protected] or call 01 892 0035.