CEO for Operate
Facilities Management, Global
Leading a global facilities management company takes determination and a lot of energy – something Ross Abbate has never been short of. With 25 years of FM experience under his belt, Ross has led Mace's facilities management division through phenomenal growth – expanding its service offer, taking the business into over 30 countries and continually growing the headcount and turnover.
- What's your career story?
I studied as an electrical engineer in Australia and in 1996, when I met my wife, I moved to the UK where I landed a job that involved installing access control systems. After only a few months I moved into managing an FM operation for BP and that’s where I was able to start really setting the direction and making a difference.
In 2000 I went back to Australia and joined a well-known FM provider. It allowed me to become more involved in business development and the mobilisation of a number of global clients. I’ve been with Mace since 2007, following my return to the UK in 2006, when I was headhunted to take on the role of Business Development Manager. I was impressed by the Mace culture, and it was clear that it was a company where I wasn’t going to be just a number.
- Why Mace?
I joined Mace because of the opportunity to develop it further. It was a relatively new business and I had plenty of scope to make my mark. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve changed roles every few years. In 2009 I ran the bidding process for Invesco Americas, which Mace won. It was the first time that the Mace Group had worked in the US. A few years later I was invited to join the board, and in 2015 I was given the opportunity to step up to Managing Director, which is where I am today. At Mace, if you want to progress you can.
- What do you enjoy most about your role?
There are a few things I really like about the business; moving into new countries, expanding, and moving with the client, seeing people move within the business and seeing people grow, and the ability to drive the business. We set our own direction and everyone is involved, people give feedback and we get different perspectives. I love working with the team we have - working together to create new ground - each day is different. We're creating the future and I really believe some of the work we are doing is developing the workplace experience that our clients’ desire.
- What is your proudest achievement at Mace?
I have two or three proud moments. The first was winning Invesco in America, it was a new market for us and definitely a key moment. Winning the contract with Colt after we lost out the first time – we went back, listened to what the client was looking for and won it on the second try. And finally, winning Standard Chartered Bank. That was my ‘Love Actually’ moment - I jumped in the air and had tears to my eyes when I found out. It’s been a huge success and I was just so proud.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into FM?
I don’t think it’s difficult to get into as you can join the business from different facets. If you want to succeed though, you have to get up and go - you need drive. It’s about outputs - I’m very output driven. You have to have motivation and believe in yourself, and if you can’t do something, ask!
- What do you hope to be doing in the next five to ten years?
In five years’ time it would be great if I’m still here and the business has doubled in size. I’d like to be retiring in 10 years but I know I’d still be tinkering. I’d like to be thinking about it at least.
“I love working with the team we have - working together to create new ground each day.”