An interview with Mahmoud Mawed, winner of 'Young FM of the Year'
Managing 647 sites for musanada landed Mahmoud Mawed the ‘Young FM manager of the year’ title at the fmME 2012 awards. He talks about his journey so far.
Mahmoud Mawed will turn 28 years old in 2012, and already has many reasons to celebrate. In addition to completing his MSc in Facilities Management with distinction and receiving an International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) certificate, he received fmME’s Young FM of the year award for 2012. All in the same week.
On the night of the awards, Mawed was exuberant, if in shock. “I feel very glad for my win and for EFS, which has built me up very well in knowledge, education and experience.
"This week, this is the third award for me. I got my Masters in FM with distinction, from Heriot-Watt University and an IFMA certificate. I will now go for my PhD and I am already preparing my proposal for it,” he says.
Mawed is a qualified mechanical engineer and has extensive knowledge and experience in facilities management within commercial, retail, residential and public sectors. His competitors in the award category included two candidates from Mace Macro, one from Emaar, and the highly-commended Ryan Darnell from Khidmah.
When fmME catches up with him later, he is still ecstatic. And for good reason — his win was largely because of his work for the Musanada Masjid project, which was the first contract for EFS in Al Ain and encompassed 647 sites (mosques) with a total built-up area of 500ha spread across 13,100 km2 of area.
Getting to the point where he was in charge of an important project was a slow but steady journey, explains Mawed. “I’m a Palestinian from Lebanon. I got my mechanical engineer certificate, after which I started my career in Lebanon as a design engineer for three years.
“Then I came to UAE and joined EFS in 2007 in the FM consultancy department, in operations,” says Mawed.
As part of his initial role, Mawed was part of FM projects for the Bahrain Financial Harbour, Bahrain, and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
When he returned to the UAE in 2008, he moved to being an assistant facilities manager, before being promoted to facilities manager (support services), for different projects, including the Rashid Hospital, and the Gold and Diamond Park, both in Dubai.
He is proud when he talks about the project responsible for his glory. “We won the biggest project, which was for Musanada for 647 mosques. I was the mobilisation manager.”
Recounting his experience, Mawed says with an air of nostalgia: “There was no office in Al Ain. I went alone, only with my laptop. I spent the first night in a hotel and the next day I started looking for accommodation, offices, stores and suppliers.
“Then we did the recruitment and mobilisation plans. I recruited 120 staff, ranging from technicians, advisors, engineers, storekeepers, procurement officers, administrators, and accountants.”
He didn’t stop there. After mobilising the project, he was tasked with taking over the operations, with all 120 staff reporting to him.
“It was very tough initially, because the whole area was more than 13,000 km2, which is bigger than Lebanon,” he explains.
The project was spread across different districts and Mawed points out that everyone, whether rich or poor, frequents mosques and it was his job to make sure the sites ran without any breakdowns, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.
Mawed says he went about the operations systematically, using technology to aid him.
“I have 25 teams, each with its own pickup [truck]. Each one was equipped with a GPS, a camera and a team leader. I then had all the GPS points of the mosques. I used the map of Al Ain, and created clusters. Every team was assigned to a cluster, which included 26 mosques each. I created team leaders for clusters, supervisors for the next level (sectors), and co-ordinators for the last level ( zones).”
The control and allocation of the teams in addition to strict KPIs to provide a comfortable indoor environment to the mosques were among the biggest challenges. Also challenging was the number of sites spread across districts.
“My challenge was how to control the sites and how to control my team. I used technology to assist me — we used the Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) system, GPS, and also implemented a tracking system for the cars,” explains Mawed.
He says the system worked somewhat like modern taxi services. If there ever was an issue reported from a site, Mawed used the GPS system to track which team was the closest and sent them immediately.
He credits his delegation system with giving him a greater degree of control. Mawed spent time with the teams to provide clear operational directions, sharing his experiences, understanding their requirements, discussing problems and resolving them the best way he could.
Mawed also worked on building a transparent relationship with the client. “But the most important thing was the client relationship, which was essential. Our meetings were not arbitrary; it wasn’t like ‘you do this and you that.’ It was more like workshops with discussions. I have a very good relationship with the clients — I even play football with them. It was a very nice experience, and a pleasant partnership,” he says.
He cites a few initiatives he is proud of: “The proposals for the asset and maintenance management which we gave, succeeded. Second, the energy saving plan for sustainability, the third is our emergency and contingency plans, especially during Ramadan.”
The energy saving and environment plan which Mawed created formed a part of his dissertation for his Masters degree. Having found success in that, Mawed travelled to Edinburgh, Scotland, to attend his graduation ceremony, and will continue at Heriot-Watt University with his PhD.
“The two-year Masters course added to my skills as a manager and gave me better knowledge to think in a systematic and managerial way. There were eight modules [in the degree] and each module was speaking about what we are doing [in the FM industry]. So for example it was about asset maintenance management, space management, sustainability in FM, service procurement, in-house and outsourcing.”
It’s not just his degree which he is thankful for. “As a young FM if I get an award, it means the company gets it. For example, if as a child, you get an award, then your parents will be proud and it will be because of them. It’s the same here. I joined EFS for a facilities management career and reaching here means the company has a very good career path. My line managers supported me in many ways.”
He adds: “On a personal level, the moment they mentioned my name [at the fmME awards], it was very nice and a surprise. I feel very proud, not for me, but for my company, and my parents and wife.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, Mawed is already working on new projects, which demand his attention. “Now I am working with Dubai Real Estate Corporation (DREC) in the Wasl area. The project includes 25 buildings, with more than 3,000 apartments. EFS is providing hard and soft services, for which we have almost 200 staff members. It’s a complicated and big project, but I am handling it.”
As a young FM manager, Mawed gives advice to other young professionals. “First, you should not stop learning. You have to go and take all the courses related to your career. All you have to do is believe in yourself and be number one.
“When I had to take charge of the mobilisation project, I can still remember the general manager telling me: ‘Mahmoud, every morning go and look in the mirror and say you can do this.’” Mawed smiles and adds: “Nothing is impossible.”