Five minutes with...
John Briggs, former GM, Khansaheb
I hear you’re leaving Dubai, why?
Interserve has asked me to go back to the UK to do a job in Waterloo, London. I will be the sales director on one of their subsidiary companies, Interserve Security. Interserve is a partner of Khansaheb, the local company here and owns 44% of Khansaheb Civil Engineering.
What will you be doing in your new role?
I will have nine people working for me in the business development team and my role is to increase sales. There are three parts to the security company including guarding, retail and electronics, things like RFID tags on clothes, CCTV, alarms and access control. I am looking forward to it because it’s a new challenge and it’s a promotion. It’s nice to be asked in this day and age after the fall out of the recession.
Will you miss Dubai?
I love Dubai. It’s a cracking place to live and work. I will miss it enormously. I came here in 1961, aged four. My parents lived here for 45 years. My dad was the chief of police in the 60s and 70s and my mum was a deputy head teacher at St Mary’s School. I was one of the first students to attend the English school here. I left Dubai to attend boarding school in Lancashire, UK, but I always came back for holidays and when I joined the army I was based in Oman so I used to come back to Dubai at weekends.
How long have you been with Interserve?
I joined Interserve in 1996. They asked me to move to Dubai two-and-a-half years ago because I know the place and can speak Arabic and they wanted to get FM started over here. Now that’s been done the company has asked me to go back to the UK.
Where do you see FM in five years time?
I would like to see FM being used as a fully integrated service where one company does everything for the customer such as MEP, security, cleaning, pool maintenance and paint works, rather than have one company out sourcing or sub contracting different services. We’re still a long way away from that at the moment because one company will sub contract different parts of the work.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in FM?
All the people I know didn’t start in FM. They all started in something else. You’ve got to have the ability to juggle a number of balls at once. You also learn FM from your colleagues and friends. My advice would be to join an association like MEFMA, find out what other people are doing in the profession, and how they are doing it. Learn from them and get involved in different networking groups.
What’s the best thing about working with Khansaheb?
Khansaheb gave us the opportunity to get on with it and do it. It didn’t restrict us in any way and gave us a great deal of encouragement whereas in the UK there might have been a lot of red tape to get past.
Work hard and enjoy yourself because Dubai is the place where you can do both.