You could imagine Professor Kathy Michell’s excitement after she was appointed to serve in the advisory committee of the global facility management association. This is not only one of her highest achievements but it is also a testament of her contribution to the built environment sector. What makes this even memorable for her is that she is the only African and female academic selected to serve on the committee.
Called the International Facility Management Association’s (IFMA) new Research Advisory Committee, the body comprises a multidisciplinary panel of experts, who include academic and business-orientated researchers. Their main area of focus is on human experience and engagement, human–machine interfaces, facility management, real estate and the sustainability of buildings and cities. Headquarted in Texas in the US, the IFMA is the largest and the most widely recognised association in the world bringing together and supporting over 20 000 facility management professionals in more than 100 countries.
Driving research agenda
In addition, the team will also work towards redefining the built environment sector and also drive the IFMA’s research agenda. The objective of this is to help improve individual well-being and the sustainability of buildings. Professor Michell is currently the deputy dean of undergraduate studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT)’s department of construction economics and management in the faculty of engineering and built environment.
Recognition of influence
Said Professor Michell about her appointment: “It is both an honour and a privilege to be part of a global team that will be defining IFMA’s future-orientated international research agenda. The invitation is very special to me as it is recognition of the global influence of my research in the urban and community-based facilities management, in leveraging socio-economic development within our urban precincts and cities.”
Strings of qualifications
Her appointment to this august body did not come as a surprise considering her solid work experience and strings of qualifications she holds. She obtained an undergraduate degree and worked briefly as a quantity surveyor. She then joined UCT at the beginning of 1995 as a lecturer in quantity surveying. During the latter part of this period she conducted research into the management of the design team and the impact this has on the ability of the quantity surveyor to achieve client satisfaction and she obtained M.Phil. with distinction.
Professor Michell also holds a PhD from the University of Salford where she investigated the role of community-based facilities management in leveraging local economic development and social development in communities characterised by high levels of unemployment and marginalised by poverty.
Current research areas: sustainable urban development and management, technological innovation in FM, Africa property markets. She is also a member of a number of high-profile bodies and these include:
- The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
- The Association of South African Quantity Surveyors
- The South African Facilities Management Association and
- A registered professional quantity surveyor with the South African Council for the Quantity Surveying Profession.
Jeffrey Saunders, the IFMA director of research, believes the facility management industry faces several inflection points. He said these have been brought on by the sudden shift to hybrid ways of working, on-going sustainability challenges, rapidly digitising operations, and the adoption of circular approaches to building management.
“As a result, the industry needs to transform. We need a globally orientated and multidisciplinary team of advisors to help IFMA set a future-orientated research agenda, and we are truly excited to see what they will recommend,” said Saunders.