Looking back, looking forward

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Yesterday (5th November) has historic resonance in the UK and especially in London. On that day in 1605, Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with several dozen barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes, with his co-conspirators, was tried as a traitor for plotting against the government – in current terms he was a political terrorist. He was later hanged, drawn, and quartered.

The tradition of celebrating the foiling of this plot with bonfires and fireworks developed. Bringing us right into the modern era, Guido Fawkes is now the avatar for a popular right-wing political blog of “plots, rumours and conspiracy.”

This 5th November, the UK woke to the news that Barack Obama had won an unprecedented victory in the US presidential election. The word “historic” was being used by commentators across the political spectrum and security, at home and abroad, will be one of the new President’s toughest challenges.

In a small way, the FM community here celebrated its own history yesterday. Guests gathered at the reconstructed Globe Theatre (Shakespeare’s “wooden O” from Henry V) on the south bank of the Thames, to applaud 20 Pioneers of FM.

The event was organised by FM World (the magazine of the British Institute of Facilities Management) to recognise those people that helped to create and steer the profession and industry over the past 30 years.

They included consultants, directors of FM, academics and business leaders. BIFM’s chairman Iain Murray (just 40 this year), paid tribute to their work and acknowledged that his career had been built on the foundations they laid down.

As the conversation flowed, the talk was of politics (several of my friends and colleagues had stayed up to watch the U.S. results come in), of change but also of continuity. Many essential issues from the early days of facilities management remained the same – talking to users, getting the experience of running facilities back into the design process, doing the best with constrained budgets.

FM has always been forward looking but now and again it’s good to glance back at where you’ve come from!

Full coverage of the Pioneers of FM will be on the FM World Web site from mid-December.

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