Economic development expert, Richie Santosdiaz, interviews Sally Harrison, Head of Business Development and Marketing at Emrill, a leading, Dubai-based, facilities management company.
UAE’s Facilities Management market is expected to grow at CAGR of 9 percent from 2016 – 2021, boosted by the country’s infrastructure spending.
Tell us a bit about yourself and a bit about the role you are currently doing and a bit about the company.
I have been based in the GCC for the past three years, working in Oman initially and then moving to Dubai. I have also worked in the United Kingdom, Australia, and China. I hold a masters degree in International Diplomacy, which has served me well working in so many different countries with different cultures and ways of doing business. Since leaving university, all of my roles have been in business development and marketing, but I have been lucky enough to work across a range of sectors, including facilities management, energy, government bodies and healthcare. The most rewarding aspects of my job are engaging with customers and building long-last relationships that add value.
As the Head of Business Development and Marketing, I am responsible for setting short-term and long-term business strategies that will grow the business both here, in the UAE, and throughout the wider GCC region. A core aspect of my role is identifying opportunities in the market with existing and potential customers, working with clients to build solutions that best suit them and meet their requirements. I also dedicate time to studying the market and identifying current and upcoming trends, ensuring Emrill is always ahead of the curve in terms of providing the best-value services to our customers and driving innovation in the facilities management sector.
I was excited to join Emrill Services. In this region, the company has a strong reputation for investing in its people and bringing international best practice to the local market. Emrill Services is a multi-award winning integrated facilities management provider in the UAE. With nearly 8,000 directly-employed staff, the company offers the full range of hard and soft FM, asset management and manned security services with innovative solutions tailored to support its clients, including cutting-edge energy solutions and real-time performance management systems. Emrill commands an exceptionally high level of client retention and has enjoyed continuous growth since its formation.
Why is facilities management an important industry as a whole and why do people take it for granted?
Facilities are often one of a company’s largest assets and represent a significant cost of doing business. FM professionals, such as Emrill, have the expertise to maximise value and minimise costs, having a direct positive impact on a company’s bottom line.
Our clients are very forward-thinking, understanding that investing in facilities management now will ensure their assets maintain their value and won’t age prematurely.
People take facilities management for granted when we’re getting it right. We aim to create and maintain places for people to live, work and visit – without causing disruption. I think it is fairly common for people not to think about facilities management until something has gone wrong. However, many people don’t appreciate how much work goes on behind closed doors, outside of peak hours, to ensure nothing does go wrong. For example, Emrill has hundreds of staff working day and night in Downtown Dubai; yet, you could visit the community and never even know we were there.
Specifically, in the GCC, why is facilities management important to have?
This region, and the UAE specifically, is home to some of the world’s best-known buildings, hotels and communities. In 2018, over 89 million passengers travelled through Dubai International Airport. Of those, 15.92 million were tourists according to Dubai Tourism statistics, making Dubai the sixth most visited city in the world. Emrill staff work around the clock 365 days a year to ensure Terminal 3 passengers have great first and last impressions.
Other GCC countries are also enjoying a surge in tourism. Saudi Arabia will roll out special event visas to attract tourists to visit the Kingdom, helping it to achieve its vision of becoming a global entertainment destination. Following an eight-year slump, Egypt attracted over 9 million visitors in 2018, up from 5.4 million in 2016.
Facilities management is at the heart of the region’s most-loved tourist attractions creating a lasting impression. From ensuring the streets of Dubai Marina are clean and free of obstructions to guaranteeing green spaces in Downtown Dubai are in immaculate condition, Emrill is behind the scenes, making sure visitors have a wonderful experience when they visit some of Dubai’s most popular and famous areas.
The environment we live in also makes facilities management crucial. Specifically, in the GCC’s hot climates, Emrill is always exploring ways to increase efficiencies, whether that be through energy-saving programmes or maintenance services.
This region’s facilities management sector is still in its infancy when compared to more established markets, such as Europe or the US. Many developers still opt to carry out facilities management in-house. However, the market is beginning to recognise the benefits of utilising a specialised facilities management services provider, such as reduced costs, enhanced levels of service and a thorough understanding of municipality regulations.
Can you elaborate a bit on, with the economic development and diversification happening, why facilities management is an integral part of the process?
Research and Markets predicts the UAE’s FM market will experience a CAGR of 9 percent from 2016 – 2021. This will be driven by the country’s spending on infrastructure projects in support of the UAE Vision 2021, which aims to diversify the country’s economy. Dubai has also set its sights on becoming the world’s smartest city by 2021. Increased tourism will also play a key role in the region’s ambitious expansion plans.
Facilities management can help bridge the gap between where the region is now and what it wants to achieve. By utilising cutting-edge technologies and integrating innovations with best international FM practices, Emrill will continue to deliver world-class solutions to the GCC region. Emrill’s Innovation Hub and Dragon’s Den Series encourage employees at all levels to share their ideas on how to do things better, more efficiently and at less cost. We have already rolled out a robotic cleaner and will continue to invest in technology solutions and platforms that contribute to the UAE’s vision of becoming more sustainable.
What are some statistics and figures you can provide for the UAE and as a whole in facilities management’s contribution to the global economy?
According to the Middle East Facilities Management Association (MEFMA), the GCC region’s facilities management industry will continue to grow at 10 per cent per year for the next two years. Research company TechSci estimates the value of the UAE’s FM industry was US$11.26bn in 2016 and will reach $17bn by 2021. MEFMA has forecasted the Saudi Arabian FM market will reach $49.8bn by the end of 2030, stating FM companies help increase the competitiveness of local commercial and industrial enterprises by enabling businesses to focus on their core operations.
Emrill is supporting this growth by educating the market, demonstrating results that benefit clients’ bottom lines. It achieves this through investing in its people, ensuring its team of professionals is delivering superior customer service on every project.
Finally, as a senior executive, what are some pieces of advice you can give to future generations, particularly to young females or other underrepresented groups aspiring to climb the corporate ladder?
My advice for absolutely anyone entering the workforce is to just be yourself. Regardless of the sector you are entering, every workplace needs a diverse range of people to succeed. So, whether you’re quiet and introspective, confident and extroverted, or something in between, do not change what makes you uniquely you just to conform or fit in. Be bold enough to dare to be different.
For young females entering traditionally male-dominated industries, it’s so important to make your voice heard. Make sure you know your value and speak up. Also, while you’re on your way up the ladder, take the time to support and develop the other strong women around you.