10 August, 2022 | Posted by Michelle Hogan

#FollowYourPassion - University of Cambridge Facilities Manager on Upskilling at Portobello Institute

Over two and a half million students attended higher education institutions in the UK in the 2020/21 academic year. In that same year, the University of Cambridge welcomed just shy of 25,000 students, many of which were based on the iconic campus. 

During this time, the facilities manager at Cambridge, Peter Brightwell, was studying IWFM 5 online with Portobello Institute, upskilling for his role in leading a team to manage the facilities at this landmark building. 

The role of facilities management in education sectors is growing in dominance with the emergence of new health and safety measures due to Covid-19, financial management at an all-time high on the list of priorities due to the current economic climate while also juggling the changes brought on by the importance of sustainability, it is more important than ever that hard and soft facilities are satisfactory, sustainable and optimised. 

When it comes to the education field, the role of facility management is to maintain the building as best as possible and meet the needs of those who use the building. Any schools or campuses that envision providing good quality education to their students must provide adequate school facilities, resources and appropriate maintenance services which will, in turn, contribute to a more effective learning environment for their users. 

It is more important than ever that facilities managers in education and across all sectors are up to date with the latest qualification to best equip them with the job at hand. 

Mordor Intelligence reports that the UK facility management market is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.5% from 2022 to 2027. The UK Facility Management Market is segmented by In-house FM Service, Outsourced FM Service (Single FM, Bundled FM, Integrated FM), by Offering Type (Hard FM, Soft FM) and by End-User (Commercial, Institutional, Public/ Infrastructure, Industrial). 

Challenges in the future of the market include supply chain, sourcing labour, government budgets and outsourcing however these challenges also offer new opportunities to leverage the existing market and push towards new growth areas through innovation and education. 

Education and upskilling are key to staying ahead of the foreseen changes in the sector in the coming years. Peter Brightwell noticed this opportunity for growth and chose to fulfil his potential by gaining the knowledge and qualification that can help him, his team and the University of Cambridge to stay ahead of finances, innovation, and sustainability. 

Gaining his IWFM 5 qualification at Portobello Institute has allowed Peter to oversee the facilities management at Cambridge with a clearer vision for the future.  

There are aspects of his studies that he has been able to implement immediately to improve his work and the longer-term impacts of his new knowledge and networking that will pay off over time. This is the benefit of upskilling in facilities management.  

“In my role, I look after four engineers. They line manage others. In total I manage about 16 people, security, porters, goods in, procurement, building services engineers,” he said. 

Peter has many key responsibilities within the Biomedical Services department at the University of Cambridge. These range from procurement of certain items for laboratory, liaising with the estate management team, and putting into place predictive maintenance plans for the future.

The IWFM 5 programme at Portobello Institute is designed for specialist facilities managers and those working at middle or senior management level who are responsible for specialised and complex functions. It is also suitable for those aspiring to work in such a role that currently work within the profession. 

Achievement of the IWFM Level 5 Diploma in FM reflects the ability of the Facilities Manager to identify and use relevant understanding, methods and skills to address complex problems. This programme seeks to deliver to you an understanding of different perspectives, diverse approaches and an independent school of thought when proposing a course of action in the FM context. Live case studies delivered by senior industry practitioners give a real insight into the varied world of Facilities Management. 

Upon completion of this programme, you will be able to manage major projects with capital spending, understand how to address complex problems and develop the skills required to manage multi-site operations. 

Peter shares some of the immediate benefits of his studies that are already paying off.  

“I fancied doing something specifically in FM, especially because I didn’t do much of the finance side. Seeing that on the course was a big plus. The module is risk planning was very useful too. 

“One of the tasks that I was given during the course was to look at what a centralised facilities management team would look like in the department. I didn’t really know before. Writing that has been so much easier. Being able to use what I did in the assignments has been great. 

“I was writing our FM strategy through the assignment. Just knowing the layout, what’s got to be in it, an element of risk assessment, knowing how to calculate our tolerance of risk. Knowing how to differentiate risk between buildings. That has made it a lot easier to talk to management teams in our estates department. I always knew what they were talking about but having actually now done it and studied it, when they use specific management terms, it makes it a lot easier,” he said.  

Peter is excelling in his role at the University of Cambridge during these challenging times thanks to his eagerness to learn more and improve at every turn. 

This career progression is possible for anyone working in FM in the education sector and across all sectors with the correct qualification and support. 

Our graduates come from all backgrounds and find that their qualifications have improved not only their current role but their opportunities to excel in more senior management positions. 

IWFM is the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management. It is the professional body for workplace and facilities practitioners. An IWFM qualification delivered through Portobello Institute enables career progression and improves your earning potential within the industry. It is a nationally and internationally recognised qualification in the field of facilities management which enhances your credibility in the workplace. 

An IWFM Level 5 Diploma in Facilities Management is equivalent to a level 7 on the National Framework of Qualifications. 

Our students and graduates enjoy our online delivery of our courses, allowing them to study from anywhere in the world in their own time and at their own pace.  

Our experienced, practice-based lecturers come from a variety of backgrounds offering excellent networking opportunities and sharing their in-depth knowledge to help you climb higher on the FM ladder. 

Peter has set his sights on further study with Portobello Institute and aims to undertake our BSc in Workplace and Facilities Management, where he will continue his career progression and add even more value to his current role.  

“I would definitely recommend Portobello as an outlet for FM education. I already have passed on the details of the course to our estate management team as well,” he said.  

If you are like Peter and looking for the right FM qualification to progress in your career, you can check out the full list of courses on offer at Portobello Institute by visiting the department page here. 

Portobello Institute is the only college in Ireland offering an accredited degree and master's programme specifically designed for Workplace and Facilities Management professionals.  

Whether you are beginning your career or already working in the industry and wanting to upskill, Portobello Institute is dedicated to helping you to follow your passion and fulfil your potential by choosing the course for the career you want.  

If you are interested in pursuing education in FM, speak to our expert FM advisor, Brandon McLean, at brandon.mclean@portobelloinstitute.com call him on 01 892 0035 or book a one-to-one consultation call at a time that suits you here. 

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