Helen Arthur, Senior Facilities Management Consultant
Mace People

Helen Arthur

Senior Facilities Management Consultant

Macro, UK

Helen’s career was always destined to go places, just possibly not in the way she had initially thought. From early ambitions of working in travel, Helen opted to follow a path in facilities management, and has since carved-out a successful career in FM consultancy.

How did you come to work at Macro?

I studied business and management at university and during a placement year realised I didn’t want a predominantly desk-based role and would be better suited to a more dynamic environment.

I landed a role on an FM graduate training programme and, despite not knowing much about it, decided it was something I might enjoy. Following a two-year placement, I worked in operational roles for some years, before taking time out to travel. When I returned to work I started at Macro and I’ve been here ever since. 

Why did you choose to go into consultancy rather than operations?
When I returned from travelling and was looking at opportunities there were a number of operational roles, as well as the consultancy role at Macro. The variety, scope of the projects and clients I could be working with in the consultancy role really appealed to me. I liked the prospect of taking on different projects – procurement exercises, strategic reviews, audits and compliance. While it was a significant change in job focus, my operations background has been fundamental in ensuring my success in the role. In reality, I’m pleased to say my instinct was right. Every job and client is different, so the variety does keep it interesting.
How does the work vary in consultancy?
Consultancy and managed services are quite different. The projects can be shorter, taking place over the course of months rather than years, depending on the client and the complexity of the role. You can be approached for one project, but end up being asked to take on other works. When you develop a strong relationship with the client they learn to trust your knowledge and experience. 
What skills do you need to have in your role?

One of the key skills is listening and taking note. You have to take the time to understand the client and what their key objectives are, you can then advise them on the correct course of action. Often our clients don’t come from an FM background or they have limited knowledge of the marketplace. Sometimes they come to us for strategic direction, other times they have a clear vision but need assistance to add structure and identify the key steps to success.

What would you be doing if you weren’t working in FM?
Initially, I considered a career in travel, but at the time the industry was changing significantly and I wasn’t confident there would be significant opportunities in the future. Now I’d love to work in horticulture (I have an RHS Level 2 Certificate in Principles of Horticulture) but only in the sunny, warm months.
Is there anything we might not know about you?
Apart from my amazing green fingers, I’ve played two concerts at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Bedfordshire County Concert band. The first time we were accompanied by a full choir which still gives me goosebumps thinking about it. 
Helen Arthur, Senior Facilities Management Consultant

“When you develop a strong relationship with the client they learn to trust your knowledge and experience. ”