It took the INSIDE FM JOBS team countless follow ups to get the extremely elusive and young Aman Malhotra – VP Administration at RBL BANK (Ratnakar Bank) onto the hot seat. But finally when we had Aman one-on-one; there was no reluctance and a candid interview emerged.
It’s quite a revelation to find such a young talent heading facilities. Please do share your journey and your age too : ) ?
I hail from Himachal and am a hotel management graduate. I am 81 born and have been working since 2000. My first job was a campus placement with Neemrana Hotels. A traditional hotel career path was developing and I got an opportunity to set up and manage an exotic property in Matheran, Maharashtra. This was my first experience at a facilities setup and operations role. The exposure allowed me to venture fully into a CRE role with the erstwhile I-Solutions, the training arm of ICICI Bank.
I setup 3 of their offices from scratch at Chandigarh, Jaipur and Ludhiana. This was followed by stints at Fullerton India, Cholamandalam Finance, Chennai and Bharti Axa, Mumbai.In all these assignments, my roles comprised of Real Estate Acquisition, Facilities Setups and finally operations & management.For example, in Fullerton; I was part of a team that fuelled the venture’s explosive growth by setting up 80 offices in 8 months across Punjab, Haryana and J&K. Cholamandalam was an equally growing and challenging role. Critically, at Chola & AXA ; I was also witness to large-scale reductions in facilities as the markets crashed post 2008-09.For a CRE and facilities professional; to have witnessed both these cycles – of growth and contraction – was quite an experience to learn
Share some of your experiences – especially how is it possible to grow at such speed and what do you do during phases of cost reductions?
These were high-pressure times. When you are growing at such speed; its important that you get the pillars right in terms of an ecosystem; such as competent leasing partners, project teams, legal support, asset suppliers, facility outsourcing partners and many more. First you need to identify these pillars and then work towards ensuring that they perform well.
At times when you are reducing your presence, you have to be focused at salvaging the most of your assets spread across multiple locations. I quickly learnt that how you structure your lease agreements can go a long way in getting your company off the hook, if ever required. Basics like avoiding lock-ins, clarity of clauses such as returning the property in as is basis or best-efforts basis and not in as its rented basis, Effort to sell back your physical infrastructure to land lords help salvaging the maximum for your assets etc.
What are the models you used to manage such large scale, multi-location and distributed facilities setups?
Given the capital and resource constraints you always have in a multi location setup; my preferred solution has been a hub-spoke Model. As facility managers, we created centers of delivery and had co-ordinates from multi locations connecting to these points. E.g. any concerns, say demands related to infra or repair & maintenance or AMCs would travel from the point of origin to a regional co-ordinate who would use local resources or seek corporate resources to resolve the concerns. We partnered with service providers who we could liaison with centrally but who could provide us services in a multi location environment through their own staff or their network of partners. Most importantly, I had to create an extremely easy to use, robust, shareable and trackable MIS system that could keep a tab on various facilities variables across hundreds of locations. We launched a central Facility Help Desk that was used to log support requests as well as track its resolution through its entire life span. Essentially based on the need, you need to design the right system, put in place SOPs and then ensure its execution and monitoring. At the end of the day, my effort has always been to move our operations to an auto-mode.
It also helped that I have a 6 sigma certification which allowed me to experiment with processes that delivered zero defect solutions.
So what kind of variables you were tracking?
As I said, different situations require different solutions and different monitoring. Here at RBL, where we have an established infrastructure; it is more about the standard facility variables such as HK/Security/Repair & Maintenance performances and costing, compliances, TATs of requests resolution, AMC costs etc. etc.
Tell us more about your role here?
RBL has been in business for decades and recently been on a revamp spree. The most interesting thing about my role is that I get to manage multiple environments here – we have the legacy infrastructure of the pre-revamp Ratnakar bank, the infrastructure as a result of the acquisition of RBS’s retail business and the new infrastructure we are developing to support RBL’s current growth. I head the facilities piece for over 180 branches with direct reporting to the Chief Admin Offer.
We rely a lot on technology and have launched various initiatives such as an online helpdesk, online stationery requisitions, online meeting room manager, online travel requests etc
Any pointers to succeeding in FM?
I think my biggest advice to young talent in our industry would be to start talking business and numbers when we represent our domain. What we contribute / Save directly effects the bottom line of the organization We cannot be relegated to some back room and called to only serve chai/samosa or when facilities are dirty.
Today’s management is willing to innovate and we need to talk to them in business terms; say what kind of cost savings we bring through an initiative, what impact we have had on productivity of employees by providing a certain kind of a facility etc.
What inputs would you like to share with service providers?
Be transparent, constantly communicate, innovate in service delivery, and most importantly be visible to your direct customers such as me so that we can further highlight the achievements.
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