A Change of Scenery: 1 Year at FSI Canada
17/03/20 | Rebecca Drewett
In this article, Kevin Santos, one of our Senior Implementation Consultants, discusses his move to FSI Canada in August 2018 from our Middle East team, and what he’s identified as the key differences between both cultures’ approaches to CAFM/IWMS software and facilities management in general.
Making the switch
When I first joined FSI’s Middle East team nearly 7 years ago, I couldn’t have predicted that I’d now be living and working in Toronto. But, that’s something that I love about working in a sector where innovation in software and systems is all around us – you must keep adapting and evolving to keep up.
I saw the move as the chance to evolve myself and experience a new culture, while staying part of the FSI family. While I was ready for significant changes in weather, environment and cuisine (Canadian maple syrup is something I can’t live without now!), what I was less prepared for was the shift in working practices and business cultures.
It wasn’t a seamless transition, but I now have a clear appreciation for Canada’s mentality towards CAFM/IWMS and where it differs from what I’ve previously experienced, something I’ll detail in the next section.
Above all, experiencing the contrasting cultures and landscapes of the Middle East and North America has been a fantastic learning opportunity, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.
Different ages, different cultures
One of the most striking aspects of the move to Canada was the tradition that underlies their business culture.
Back in Dubai, the business culture is relatively young. Its population has rapidly grown to over 3 million people, with 85% of its citizens not originating in the UAE (I was one of them, having been born in the Philippines). Plus, it has grown up with technology at its core, and therefore as a culture they are incredibly open to innovation.
This melting pot of peoples and early-adopting culture is a big factor in why CAFM/IWMS software has quickly become established in the Middle East.
By contrast, Canada’s business environment is more venerable, with a weightier tradition behind it. That comes with its own benefits in terms of keeping things organised and settled. However, this also makes it slightly more reluctant to change. FM professionals are less likely to let go and let software take the strain.
That has been a recurring challenge in this new landscape, with some companies still doubting how much CAFM/IWMS software can benefit them in this era of paperless technology. But, this is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work – showing them the positive differences that can be made to their savings and productivity.
Once those are established, FM professionals in Canada are quick to take on this technology and benefit from the efficiencies it provides.
Another significant change I noticed was the size of Canada compared to Dubai and the sheer range of industries it serves.
Whereas Dubai is incredibly concentrated, covering just over 1,580 square miles, and is primarily focused on the financial services sector, Canada is a huge, sprawling country with an incredibly diverse economy.
It sounds ridiculously obvious to say this considering you can compare both on a map, but it is only when you’ve lived in both that you can truly understand and appreciate the vast differences in scale.
But this is something else I’ve found exciting about working in Canada – working with clients in the healthcare, property management and local government industries has given me a deeper understanding of the challenges they are facing – as well as a better appreciation of the capabilities of our software to help them meet these.
It’s fantastic to bring our dynamic and adaptive technology to these new sectors and locations, and to see how they have positively influenced the day-to-day for our clients.
A big part of my job in Dubai was working on multiple projects with vastly different business requirements. Every project is unique and must be treated as such, and remaining on the frontline of the FM industry required us to continuously evolve and adapt our solutions to meet client expectations.
In Canada… this hasn’t changed. The facilities management market in Canada is growing, expected to be worth around $40 billion by 2023, and while the UAE has developed alongside CAFM/IWMS, this software is gradually making its mark here as well.
I believe our team is playing a key role in this, in how Concept Evolution is helping clients visualise the difference our software can make to their work. Particularly in relation to BIM, the integrated 3D model viewer helps visualise asset sizes, shapes and positions to improve how the building is managed and maintained.
I’m happy to be playing my part in introducing this technology to FM professionals throughout Canada, and subsequently making their lives easier in the process. It might be far colder here than in Dubai, but this makes sure I always have a warm feeling inside!
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