With the winner of this year’s Young Leader of the Year (YLOTY) category, run by the Young Manager’s Forum (YMF) due to be announced at the presentation ceremony of the PFM Awards 2018, the three finalists provide their thoughts on their experiences to date.

The YMF is a collective group of individuals with the unifying aim of creating a platform for professionals to connect with their peers in the workplace industry and runs the YLOTY category in partnership with PFM, with this year’s shortlisted finalists announced last month.

In search of the true pioneers of tomorrow within FM, the jury panel and YMF committee selected Kristian Trend, general manager – universities student living at Sodexo, Luke Townsend, assistant commercial manager at ENGIE and Rezki Karar, account manager – defence and government services at Sodexo, as standouts among a number of exceptional nominees. In the run up to the PFM Awards that take place on the 7 November, we catch up with the finalists to see what they have to say on their involvement with both the YMF and the YLOTY process.

What was the process that led to you being a Young Leader of the Year finalist?

Kristian Trend: It was a rigorous process. My manager filled out a detailed submission form containing information on why I should be considered. After I was informed that I had made it to the final six, I started preparing a presentation for the panel of judges mostly made up of previous winners as well as one representing the sponsor, Barclays.

Luke Townsend: Prior to being nominated for the award, I was in the FM sector for about three years and was part of the Engie graduate scheme. I was promoted to the role of contract performance manager due to completing the scheme earlier than anticipated. I was introduced to the YMF and the YLOTY by my mentor Chris Mayer, head of talent, who encouraged me to put my application forward.

Rezki Karar: I was surprised for find out that my director nominated me for this award. The only thing I knew was that my line manager had asked for my age…! From the nomination, my director informed me about the traits she had included in my nomination, including my ability to engage and my hunger for development. Once the nomination was submitted, I was then informed that I was shortlisted and went to presented to the judges.


How did you find the judging process?

Kristian Trend: I found it enjoyable, surprisingly! Especially as I was under the microscope and I have never done anything like that before. The judges were very friendly and hugely passionate and as previous winners themselves, you could feel that passion instantly. I received some incredibly positive feedback and key pointers to work towards. I was ecstatic when I came out of the presentation – I rang my mum to tell her about the amazing experience. Shortly after I found out I made it through to the final three.

Luke Townsend: It was refreshing, actually. Having the opportunity to meet the panel, all of whom came from various backgrounds, and being able to meet the sponsor from Barclays was a brilliant opportunity. It felt harmonious to be recognised by others, including past winners. The last round of the process gave me a fantastic platform to present in-front of people and enabled me to meet people in the industry I’d never met before.

Rezki Karar: The whole process has been so engaging and inspirational. I am really proud and humble to have gone through this, firstly as a nominee, then being shortlisted and now as a finalist. The judges were so considerate and accommodating as well as being knowledgeable, giving out guidance and valuable advice. Having the three different stages really allows for personal growth.

Can you describe the effect this is having and/or expectations that this will have on your career?

Kristian Trend: Being in this situation at a young age and reflecting on my journey to see how much I have achieved already, has allowed me to set my goals even higher. It’s given me the confidence to reach even further and exert myself on to more challenging ambitions. Furthermore, the feedback from the judging process has allowed me to feel confident enough to push boundaries.

Luke Townsend: It’s definitely broadening my expectations, I would previously think about making changes within a company level, now having the exposure to the wider industry, I am looking forward to reaching even further. The YMF has certainly become a platform for me and has encouraged me to be more forward thinking.

Rezki Karar: It has certainly enhanced my self-confidence. I feel that even if I’m not a winner, I am very proud of how far I’ve come. The whole process has helped me understand my motivation and encouraged me to continue to drive for success. I now feel so much more engaged to lead and to implement positive change in the FM industry as well as continuing to be an inspiration for my mentees.

What would your advice be to future YLOTY finalists?

Kristian Trend: The main thing is to be yourself, the Young Leader of the Year Award encourages you to show your individuality. Don’t hold back from having a joke and showing your personality.

Luke Townsend: The self-reflection that comes with the journey is incredibly important. Make sure you are aware of where you’ve been and what your drivers are for the rest of your career. Look to the future and how you can impact the FM sector on a wider scale.

Rezki Karar: Enjoy the process. Even if you are nominated you should proud of it, never mind being a finalist! Those involved with the YLOTY should cherish every moment and make the most of being recognised. I encourage every line manager, colleague, client and supplier to support, promote and nominate young talents – please spread the word.

Please provide your thoughts on the YMF and its work

Kristian Trend: The forum is a fantastic group of people. Not only does it give up and coming managers in the industry the opportunity to speak up, but the YMF is used as way to put new voices forward and encourage involvement.

Luke Townsend: The YMF offers a platform for young professionals to use their voice and offers endless collaboration opportunities by bringing everyone together to share ideas, which is ultimately really important. The YMF brings a circle of people together that needs to be together – something which is sometimes lacking in FM. I truly believe that the future heads of FM will come from the YMF.

Rezki Karar: I’m really thankful for the opportunity of being a part of the YMF. I will definitely be seeking to nominate members of my team in the future. The YMF provides the opportunity to support talent and enhance their careers and really does care about the future of the industry. It goes beyond just conversation, but instead acknowledges and shines a light on the talent of tomorrow.