How I Got Here: University of Queensland facilities manager Robert Dore on the ‘behind the scenes’

by Helena Morgan
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Some people think facilities and operations managers just make sure the lifts are running and the lights are on. In reality, an FM wears many hats. From space management to sustainability and security in the built environment, responsibilities can vary from FM to FM. It’s a career full of opportunity that takes people down many different paths.

Facility Management’s ‘How I Got Here’ series chats to impressive people who have worked in the field to map out some of the paths taken and demystify this essential profession.

For more than 14 years, Robert Dore has relished providing successful outcomes and solutions to clients through his job as a facilities manager.

The industry is widely acknowledged as dynamic and prone to evolution, yet Dore welcomes both the rewards and challenges of an ongoing learning process, and the necessity of staying alert to changing technologies, environments and skills.

Overseeing the facilities management at The University of Queensland (UQ) – Queensland’s top university that Dore likens to a “small city” – is no small feat. However, Dore’s extensive experience across building management, equipment installation, HVAC and construction, coupled with a scrupulous attention to detail and staunch commitment to his team, ensures smooth operations, and the gratification that he has “made a difference” to those he is servicing. 

Facility Management: What did you do before you were a facilities manager?

Robert Dore: I have worked as a facilities manager for more than 14 years.

Before my current role, I worked in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and building management system (BMS) industries across areas such as construction, ice production and refrigeration, hospital services, and commercial and council building maintenance.

I loved helping my clients achieve successful outcomes, and these roles ignited my interest in facilities management and led to my current role as a facilities manager at UQ.

Did you study facilities management?

I completed an electrical and mechanical apprenticeship in the construction industry, specialising in HVAC electrical and BMS installation and commissioning.

Facilities management is a continuous journey of learning and requires you to stay informed of changing technologies, environments, and skills.

How did you get into facilities management?

Facilities management has been a natural progression for me following the diverse roles I’ve had over the years. My first role after completing my qualification involved installing BMS, access control and CCTV systems in new buildings and refurbishments, with the assistance of implementation, commissioning, data storage and witness testing. 

This position expanded upon the building management and construction skills that I acquired during my apprenticeship. Following this position, I transitioned into the refrigeration and small facility maintenance sector, servicing and installing equipment for the production of crystal clear, food-grade quality ice, before continuing in HVAC services and maintenance across hospitals, councils and commercial clients.

For 14 years, I also managed a business specialising in air conditioning and electrical services. My experience across diverse industries equipped me with skills and techniques in equipment maintenance and small buildings management, and ultimately enabled my transition into facility management.

The beloved Great Court at the UQ St Lucia campus

I started at UQ in 2009, and within two years was leading a team of six staff from the property and facilities division and managing the maintenance and services of five buildings on the St Lucia campus.

I now lead the management of 24 buildings, one commercial food precinct, three sporting fields and clubhouses, and two childcare facilities on the St Lucia campus. The job requires accuracy, commitment and attention to detail – operating a roster of on-call duties every six weeks.

Some people follow their passion and others fall into it by moving around. While I moved around trying to find an area to specialise in, I found my destination in facility management.

What sort of assets do you manage as part of The University of Queensland?

Working for UQ is often like working for a small city with an endless list of services to maintain year-round.

I manage a range of assets classified as either specialised or every day that range from energy to laboratories.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my role is accurately and proactively meeting the diverse needs of building occupants. While the role is challenging, I go home with the satisfaction that I have made a difference.

Most of our successes as facilities managers go unseen. Building occupants are often unaware of the important work that goes on behind the scenes in ensuring facilities are operational. This is vital work for UQ – a reputable university that houses state-of-the-art research centres and learning facilities.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

The best part of the job is walking away at the end of the day knowing you’ve done your best. When I offer my clients a solution to a challenge and it delivers a successful outcome it makes my day. There’s nothing more satisfying than exceeding client expectations.

Maintaining buildings and achieving client satisfaction makes me happy, and while facility management isn’t for everyone, I have achieved so many goals and found a role I genuinely love. 

I believe that with the right frame of mind, you can achieve anything. My motto is: Love what you do and do what you love!

Photography supplied by Robert Dore.

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