Macro exec Mark Graham on the Mideast FM market

Middle East Consultant sits down with Mark Graham for an exclusive chat about the regional facilities management business

Mark Graham is managing director of Macro MENAP.

Property consultancy and facilities management (FM) firm Macro is a wholly owned subsidiary of international consultancy and construction company Mace. Macro has been in operation since 2002, and expands upon the services offered by its parent – the company currently offers strategic and tactical facilities management services to a diverse mix of clients.

According to Mace’s 2016 annual results, Macro reported an 8% increase in profits from contracts and entered nine new markets in 2016: Bahrain, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan and Turkey. The firm’s staff count also grew by 6% to 766, and the firm recently appointed Mark Graham as managing director of Macro MENAP.

Graham first started working with Mace in 2004 and moved to the UAE in 2012, where he joined Mace as director of finance and corporate services. He then ascended to the role of commercial director in 2016, before taking on his current role. Middle East Consultant caught up with Graham to discuss Macro’s business past and future.

What were some of the business highlights for Mace in the last twelve months?
It’s been a successful year. We entered a number of new countries in the Middle East, and increased our staff count considerably. One of Macro’s most notable wins was an international contract with Standard Chartered Bank, managing a 4.2m sqft portfolio across four continents. We were also voted FM Consultancy of the Year recently, our seventh win in this category.

Macro offers a range of different services. In terms of business, which have grown or shrunk in the last year, and why do you think this is the case?
Macro provides FM consultancy, integrated facilities management (IFM), a helpdesk and CAFM service, technical services and owner association management. All these business segments have grown over the last year. The biggest growth we have seen, however, has come from IFM and technical services. The reason for this growth has been due to a contract win with a financial institution where we provide workplace services across nine countries in the Middle East, as well Pakistan. Additionally, we have expanded our education portfolio and are now covering over 250 schools in the region.

Which of these segments will be the biggest contributor to your bottom line in the next year or two?
Our integrated FM contracts, because they are long-term, as well as our consultancy business, due to the major programmes we are involved in.

Talk us through any changes you’ve made internally in terms of operations, processes, staff, etc.
Since I was appointed to lead the business in the Middle East, we have changed the structure of our business operations in the region considerably. The new structure sets us up for growth and provides opportunities for our people, while enabling us to be even more client-focused. Macro is a multinational company and we are ensuring that our business is aligned globally, working as one team, sharing knowledge and expertise across borders.

What are your plans going forward? Is growth on the table?
Growth is absolutely on the table, but in focused areas and countries in the Middle East region. We want to continue to grow our service offering and expand both our regional and global footprint organically. We are well positioned to offer clients an integrated global solution across the entire property lifecycle.

Which sectors and verticals are showing the most promise, and how do you plan to tackle current regional challenges?
We are very strong in the finance and education verticals, and this is something we would like to build on. In the last year, we also expanded our activities in leisure and arts and culture, which seems to be a growing sector in this region. Globally, we are also strong in technology and this is something we want to bring to this region. We focus on our strengths and look at how we can help clients provide a smooth, streamlined service. There will always be challenges, but it doesn’t really matter what they are – it is how you deal with them that sets you apart from the competition. You need to innovate and always look to the future.

What are the opportunities and challenges for your firm in the GCC? Are there any standout markets you’d like to focus on?
Working across borders brings its challenges, with different legislations and ensuring your work culture blends well with the local culture. However, entering a new market also offers new opportunities. We are particularly excited about the development of FM in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

How does Mace Macro differentiate itself from other firms offering similar services?
We are flexible in our approach, tailor-make solutions and will follow clients across borders. Our contracts with Invesco and Standard Chartered Bank demonstrate this, where we have entered new markets as a result of our clients’ needs. Our managed service offering also means we are capable of being independent from the supply chain, which means we can negotiate favourable deals while offering a better service for clients. Our biggest differentiator is that although we are a relatively small company, we are able to provide solutions across 40 countries.

Have there been any new approaches, innovations or technologies enabling you to offer better services to customers?
Our helpdesk and CAFM service is constantly developing, we are increasingly using mobile and handheld technology, and our consultants regularly review drawings via building information modelling (BIM) and use a streamlined technology-focused asset tagging process. We are also working on the introduction of robotics and technology to carry out repetitive tasks such as floor cleaning. In addition, we are adding workplace efficiency assessments to our regional consultancy service offering, to improve the occupant experience and area usage.

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