Collaborative working has been celebrated throughout the long history of the PFM Partnership Awards, so it was entirely fitting that the results of the partnership between Sajna Rahman and Andrew Hulbert were recognised at last year’s event.
Having met at industry events with increasing regularity in 2014, they began to discuss the need for the sharing of knowledge and advice between industry leaders and those just starting their career path. Their efforts resulted in the staging of annual Tomorrow Meets Today (TMT) events that have proved to be increasingly popular and led to the winning of the PFM Awards Achievement in Diversity category, sponsored by Q3 Group.
Held in November 2015, the first TMT event was entitled Promoting Diversity that saw a select number of senior FM service provider personnel paired with 40 younger people in a speed-dating style, allowing everyone to spend a few minutes making contact and providing the opportunity to create future relationships.
“I’ve always been passionate about diversity and for allowing everyone to follow their own, personal development aims,” says Ms Rahman. “We could see the need to get people to think about their careers in a different way that would encourage continued development by engaging with senior leaders.”
Mr Hulbert endorses this and says that despite being from very different backgrounds and ethnic groups, the partnership between himself and Ms Rahman has proved to be very effective. “Sajna is very creative and also has a great network of diverse and talented people, while I’m more about putting things together, sending emails and completing the practical tasks and I was also chair of the Young Managers Forum (now Emerging Workplace Leaders) at the time,” he says.
“We quickly realised that between us we had all the right components to hold an event and set about organising this and pairing senior leaders with future leaders and creating a quality networking event without all the usual noise,” says Mr Hulbert.
Held at Candy Crush in central London and sponsored by Mr Hulbert’s company Pareto FM, the Promoting Diversity event recorded a number of successes, most notably gaining the recognition of FM leaders in the social value of the exercise, combined with the mutual benefits of mentoring and nurturing future leaders.
Both TMT partners state that the event saw the formation of highly valuable relationships that would not otherwise have developed and the initial positive outcomes can be seen to have provided the impetus for future successes. “It didn’t feel like work, although a lot of effort went into bringing everything together, but in the end the way everything came together so well made it seem like a very organic process,” says Ms Rahman.
The next TMT event, held the following year in 2016, was entitled Thought Diversity and saw senior and young leaders being instructed how to prepare meals, which they then ate. Held at the Aveqia interactive dining location in London, the senior leaders were mostly from outside the industry and from diverse backgrounds, providing high value inspiration for the young leaders in attendance.
“This was a brilliant session and very interactive for everyone, allowing them to bond in a relaxed and enjoyable environment, first cooking, then eating together and enjoying a glass of champagne,” says Ms Rahman. “Although there is a diversity focus in all we do, I hate labelling people and this event showed that it was possible for people to consciously choose the best careers for them to follow.”
Mr Hulbert confirms that “very few people” declined invitations to the event and although no one was asked to pay to attend, the event was staged through the voluntary efforts of all those involved.
Further success followed in 2017 at the Pay It Forward TMT event, which took the form of a dining event at a members’ club consisting of eight tables, with two leaders at each. All the leaders present had shown high levels of engagement with social values in their career, while the young leaders in attendance had experience in supporting the voluntary sector.
“One of the most notable conversation topics emerging from this was the challenges faced by industry leaders and several also talked about their vulnerabilities, which was very helpful in showing the side that no one really talks about and was very much appreciated by the young leaders in the room,” says Mr Hulbert.
Following the event, which saw all the young leaders change to a different table after each course, the 36 attendees recorded their comments on video and confirming Ms Rahman’s statement that “TMT is all about thought diversity and positive action”.
Held at the Twitter UK head office in London, the 2018 event discussed The Future of Diversity in FM and saw TMT partnering with universities and not for profit organisations. Mr Hulbert states that this resulted in “unexpected growth” as momentum established by previous events continued to drive further success. “There were a number of people in attendance from underprivileged backgrounds and their involvement led to several being mentored by the business leaders in attendance,” he continues.
“It provided a superb opportunity for the young leaders to take a lot of messages away with them to explain to their team and others how great the FM sector really is,” says Ms Rahman.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to be involved in all of the TMT events and we’ve seen many genuine stories about the benefits enjoyed by so many of the attendees,” says Mr Hulbert, who has managed to combine his significant input to the social enterprise with guiding Pareto FM on an impressive growth path through his role as managing director.
Ms Rahman worked for Sodexo for the previous seven years, but is now following a new path as a trainer, speaker and coach, guiding and encouraging individuals in following their most rewarding career pathways. She attributes the winning of the PFM Awards Achievement in Diversity award with helping her to make the bold step to begin her new career at the end of 2019, which is continuing to provide international opportunities.
Plans are also continuing to be discussed by Ms Rahman and Mr Hulbert regarding the next TMT event, depending on the developments around the Covid-19 outbreak that were ongoing at the time of publishing this article.