Open letter to all graduates: think FM

Neil Usher
3 min readMay 11, 2023


I first published this in July 2012 — it’s here on World FM Day without any edits. Over a decade later, it’s still entirely relevant.

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Dear Graduate

You are probably not thanking us at this time for creating one of the most barren career opportunity landscapes in many decades. And you are probably wondering why you studied a non-vocational subject and how you will pay off the loan — amongst many other long term concerns. However, some of the best careers are not those most obvious to you and don’t get mentioned on the milk round.

But you’re keen, organised, creative and personable — and want to work hard. Its time you considered Facilities Management (FM).

Here are ten reasons why:

  1. You don’t need a vocational qualification — admittedly they help, but they are not essential. What you need is drive, application, a willingness to learn, a service mindset, an eye for detail and not to mind getting your hands dirty. Just about everything else you will learn on the job with the right attitude. It’s an industry awash with informal mentors. There will always be someone on hand to help.
  2. It is just as in demand during an upturn — managing customer expectations and supporting expansion, employee attraction and retention, as it is in a downturn — managing costs, getting more for less. The business needs your contribution whichever way the graph is going.
  3. No day will be the same. It embodies more variety than probably any other profession. And each area you touch upon is its own industry, a window into another world. It’s like matryoshka dolls. Don’t even think there might be a dull day. And with that diversity comes career development opportunity, on both supply and demand side.
  4. It’s a balance between the creative and the commercial. From innovative solutions to service challenges, to having designed beautiful and functional workspace — to complex procurement challenge and service performance metrics. All in one day.
  5. You will touch the working lives of everyone in the organisation, as you provide them with workspace and workplace services. You will be known by everyone and probably know everyone — and have a chance to make their working lives better. Your reach in the organisation? 100%.
  6. You will be thanked for the effort you put in and the extra mile you go. People will notice what you do for them. You — and your work — will never be invisible.
  7. There is every likelihood you will have access to senior leadership that many people more senior than you are rarely granted. You will provide them with space, furniture, services and look after their guests — and so they will know you and need you.
  8. The learning will never cease. With twenty years in the business, I still learn something every single day that makes me a better performer and manager. You will never know it all.
  9. You will deal in physical realities — buildings, workspace, equipment. Can you imagine a life restricted to screen and paper? You will feel it every time you walk through the door, because you will have had something to do with that door being there.
  10. You will be a friend of the planet — you will have a significant opportunity to reduce carbon and create sustainable working environments. In an age where we are told that young people want to work for environmentally responsible organisations, you can make a difference at the heart.

There are some of the reasons people join FM and why very few people leave FM. Think about it — better still, talk to someone in the industry. We’d love to talk.



Neil Usher

work & workplace protagonist | #ElementalWorkplace and #ElementalChange originator | rumoured to create human environments | known to blog