Whether you choose to spend almost all of your working years with the Navy, or transition into experiencing the civilian world any earlier – the knowledge, leadership skills and above all, the attitude will always stay with you. Having experienced both worlds, I can tell that it will continue to give you a distinct advantage, wherever you are. Though difficult to encapsulate in one post, let me attempt at telling you how my 19 years of serving the Indian Navy makes me think I was destined to be a Facilities Manager later.
Looking back a little over 30 years, I see myself joining the Navy with mixed emotions. Soon I learnt, that the focus of Navy life, is living and working with many people for many months on a ship. To me, this life was so enjoyable that it overshadowed the tiresome days and extremely short nights. It taught me patience and camaraderie. In fact, the tougher it got for me the better I bonded with peers.
After 19 years, as I was packing up to undertake a responsible career in the corporate world, I didn’t realise that my most important belongings were the learnings I will always owe to the Navy. And when I started off being a Facilities Manager, I instantly saw things falling into place for me. Some of the key learnings that I apply everyday as a Facilities Manager are:
- Follow the captain: Back there, several circumstances required complete, unwavering loyalty and obedience to the ship’s captain, whose authority on his or her ship is absolute. The situation finds a place in Facilities Management as well where protocol must percolate down a hierarchy as it comes enriched with hands-on experience.
- Problem solving: any default could cost hundreds of precious lives on the ship as well as in built spaces. I learnt to tackle problems without waiting for someone else to do it for me. If I couldn’t solve it myself I would get help, but the point was to kill it right then!
- Rationing: Military is one of the best learning grounds for this skill to survive with the minimum. One of the main objectives of Facilities Management is to endlessly find cost-efficient solutions for the client and there goes another match with my life at the Navy.
- Never-give-up: The military toughens you up enough to not accept anything but victory. The attitude is inevitable for the Facilities Management business where it’s important to settle for nothing but the best for your client.
- Discipline: Any people-heavy team needs it and is undeniably best learnt being in the military.
- Team bonding: Big missions are best accomplished by well-knit teams. In Facilities Management where we deal with wide-spread spaces and innumerable tasks at hand, trust among individuals is imperative, which only seeps into well-bonded teams.
- Soft skills: when working with large teams and people-heavy spaces, it is imperative to have strong relationships with soft skills and appraising. And co-exist in peace!
- Keep calm under pressure situations: to be able to not panic when you are most likely to and take conscious decisions in the interest of the involved people and client.
- Attention to detail: This is a quality that is hammered into every military man, the importance of which is best realised as soon as you walk out of it. Facilities Management is all about impeccable property management and this is what makes me feel blessed that I once used to be a Navy officer.