Fawziya Al Marzouqi, an engineer from Ajman, is facilities manager for the Western Region at Musanada – Abu Dhabi General Services. She recently won an award for best facilities manager in the Middle East, a tribute paid to individuals who regularly “go above and beyond the call of duty”. Here, she talks about her drive to provide the highest levels of quality and service.
What does your job entail?
I am responsible for providing total facility management services for our various clients. We currently have 13 governmental clients including the Abu Dhabi Education Council, Abu Dhabi Municipality and the Department of Finance. We have about 600 buildings in my region – mosques, schools, municipal buildings, wedding halls. Our responsibility is to ensure that a building’s occupants can concentrate on their daily roles and without [having to worry about] the facilities. We provide maintenance, building, cleaning and landscape services.
You started out working as an electrical engineer in 2004 and, in time, took on management responsibilities. When did you start your current role?
When I joined Musanada in 2009 they thought I would be suitable as an area manager for facilities. I said, ‘OK, it will be a new challenge for me’. Prior to that, in my first management role, I was section head for planning at Abu Dhabi Municipality. In the current job I have to manage the contractors [as well as planning]. That is the difference. The first year was very difficult for me. This was a transition year for us [from Abu Dhabi Municipality to Musanada] and a lot of processes had to be set up and a new mentality implemented. We only used to do maintenance previously but we had to take on responsibility for new services such as cleaning. All the staff were engineers and they thought was this was beneath them. My role was to [change] the mentality and [encourage] flexibility.
How did you win your employees over?
When I joined my new team, I didn’t understand all of them during the first month. I took time to understand their personalities and decide the best style to use with every person. I have some very experienced, older people and I can depend on them – if you respect their experience and ask for their advice they will be more helpful. I have other young people and they would like guidance and clear and direct instructions – not in a harsh way but in a kind way. Then there are some people who are not [open] to change and it’s important to show them how the change will be beneficial for them. If an employee was not willing to follow up on the cleaning services, for example, I explained to him our responsibility: that waste on-site would cause problems relating to health, to the environment and our responsibility is to keep it clear and green.
You studied electrical engineering at the Emirates University in Al Ain. Even though many women in the UAE study engineering, a considerable number choose not to pursue it as a career. Why did you?
I decided to go into electrical engineering and when I joined the department at university, I found it very difficult but I said, ‘I will not be defeated by this challenge’, and I graduated successfully in 2004. If I didn’t implement what I had learnt during my education, then how could I prove to myself that I had overcome the first challenge [of finding electrical engineering difficult]? I want to give to the community. This is my role, how I will service my country. When we were children we heard all the time that teachers gave a big contribution to the community. I was looking to be a teacher because I would be building the next generation. Now I am responsible for the schools where the new generation will be made.
Where would you like to go from here?
I got my new position as regional manager last year so it’s still a challenge. It’s very difficult to manage clients, especially when the client doesn’t give you a clear idea of their vision or their requirements. Sometimes we sit in a meeting and give them suggestions. This can be the best way – not to wait for the clients to request something but to be more proactive and give suggestions and to convince them how this change would be for their good and benefit.
Ms Al Marzouqi is speaking at The Fifth Annual Emiratisation Forum on September 30 to October 1