A Facilities Manager’s Life in Angola, Southern Africa (by Simon Beck)

Simon Beck recently connected with me, and shared his “FM story”. I asked Simon if I could share what he told me, below. Some things sound remarkably similar, whereas others couldn’t be more different!

After a successful career in the British Army, and some time in the UK FM industry, Simon looked further afield and moved to Saudi Arabia….

“….Obviously quite a daunting prospect of a complete change in scenery, life style and working practices the followed but with my attitude forged from years in the army of being very flexible, acceptable to changes at sometimes very short notice and adaptable I thought ‘why not’; I [no longer] had directly attached family to think or worry about. After a year working in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia, for SAAD specialist hospital I decided to accept an offer from MACE Macro, the FM management and Consultancy Company. I was based in Dubai, but worked on the commissioning and initial operations of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). I was in Abu Dhabi for just over a year when the consultancy period ended, after which I was based out of MACE Macro’s Head Office in Dubai.”

“Just under two years ago the opportunity to work in Angola came up….

“Currently I am working as a The Senior Business Development manager for SG Services, LDA, a Facilities Management and Maintenance company based in Luanda, Angola.  Developing both internal and external business, such as finding and procuring new external clients, and advising on internal policies and procedures such as ISO9001, 14 and 18001, Health and Safety, Estate and asset management, and advising on both Hard and Soft service provision.

I am also responsible for the current commercial side of the business, making contact and development of new clients and business streams; responsible for finding and responding to RFIs and putting bids together from RFPs (when I was working for Mace Macro I helped work on bids, for Sky Courts Dubai, Al Rahba Hospital Abu Dhabi, Aldar, Emirates national Schools, Etisalat, Mushrif Palace, Ominyat, TDIC, Al Ain Wildlife Park, the Lusail project in Qatar, and Alshaya International Trading in Saudi Arabia).

For SG Services, I have written and submitted bids for BP Angola, LNG Angola, BAI Bank (15 branches), BAI Teaching Academy, and just recently TOTAL. With a total value of just under $60m.

With a NEBOSH qualification, I am also the Companies Health and Safety Director responsible for the Health and Safety of all of the company’s employees, contractors and clients that come in contact or have dealings with SG Services.  Responsible for implementing and directing the company according to Angolan Health and Safety law, and advising on best practises, following European and British legislation. I am also responsible for the Companies Environmental management and Quality management systems and implementation.”

In all of the places I have lived and worked, each one is slightly different in the way it does things, even the most usual of things of like going shopping for instant, in Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive and even ex pats have to wear the hibiya…..  So that I was usually asked to drive some of the female members of SAAD staff on shopping trips just down to the super markets.  Angola is no different.  Yes women can drive here but there are very few what I would call European standard shopping, establishments to go too.  It is extremely expensive place to live with most things except vegetables have to be imported.  This makes Angola one of the most expensive places on the plant to live and work.”

“The country’s economic income is based on the off shore oil and LNG reserves, diamonds and other natural resources’ found in the country, but it has very limited industrial manufacturing base, again highlighting the cost of imports.  With the revenue from the Oil, and all of the major oil companies represented, such as BP; Chevron, TOTAL, etc has seen the increase in construction and infrastructure projects, mainly being carried out mainly by the Chinese (CITIC construction), in return for the oil reserves.  With the country Portuguese speaking a lot of influence comes from Portugal, also an ex colony, and Brazil.  With the country mainly speaking Portuguese there is also a number of Portuguese owned companies’ represented t here, such as Sores de Costa and Lisboa and the FM software providing company, Navaltik.”

“The UK has not been entirely left out, with ATKINS providing consultancy services to a number of projects mainly being the huge Welfare housing projects based just outside of Luanda.  All of this new construction and infrastructure work has seen a knock on affect for the FM market.  However with FM very much in its infancy here, but with influence from world and European based companies the teaching curve is very much ongoing.  I would say that it is a few years behind the Middle East but is fast catching up.”

“SG Services is the leading Property management and Maintenance Company in Angola.  With its senior management coming from Portugal, and the UK, bring to the company European business ethics, procedures and policies, but with about 97% of the remaining work force being Angolan, has made the company being able to bring to its ever increasing International and local clients, European based standards with Local knowledge, education and experience.  SG Services current portfolio includes the Presidential Palaces, buildings and villas, a 263 bed hospital, a five star Hotel, a university and an 18 floor Tower block (HQ Sonangol, Angola’s oil Company).  With this diversity of a portfolio has made SG Services the leading FM Company in Luanda and an obvious first choice for any future or potential new clients.”

“It is not all work and no play…..There is a vibrant ex pat community, Americans, Scottish, Irish, Portuguese, Brazilian, mainly based around the embassy’s and some Ex pat run organisations such as the Luanda British Women’s Association and the TICA, with someone holding a get together one week to the next.”

“With the country only coming out of a civil war in the past 20 years some areas of the Luanda have yet to be re developed so there are areas that do seem to be very run down.  These areas you tend to avoid but generally you have to be a bit more aware of your surroundings’ and who is around you.  If you have a chance to leave the city and go out into the country side then you must take it.”

“There are some wonderful scenery in central Angola, but go with someone who knows the areas.  Tourism is not yet a major income earner as there is limited number of decent and affordable hotels.”

“……..looking to the future, where can I retire to, and what will I do when I don’t really want to work anymore? Angola is not that place… I haven’t as yet worked in the Far East such as Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, or the Americas, etc.  I’m flexible, adaptable and willing to accept changes at short notice, so I am willing to be on the move again….”

How Simon got there….

“…In May of 2003, I left the Army and did the BIFM Part two course as a resettlement course.  Immediately I picked up a job working for Interserve on their Network rail contract in Manchester.  After a year i was promoted and moved to full FM on the same contract but in York.  With my military background I was asked to join the Defense division of Interserve as they were just completing the PFI construction stage on the New Welbeck College in Leicestershire.  Then after a short stint with the CITB and Inspace Maintain based in Birmingham I looked further afield….” You know the rest!

Thanks to Simon for this interesting career story.

3 responses to “A Facilities Manager’s Life in Angola, Southern Africa (by Simon Beck)

  1. interesting. I like this.

  2. Pingback: ‘OJ’ Careers & Jobs (#5 ; 30th March 2012) | PaulCarder.com

  3. Pingback: ‘OJ’ Careers & Jobs (#6 ; 13th April 2012) | PaulCarder.com

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