Visitors to Robinson College often admire the building and grounds but are unaware of the work carried out behind the scenes all year round by the Facilities Department. Maintenance and new building projects need to be carried out on-time and on-budget, with minimal disruption to everyday College life which can be challenging, reports Bill McKim who has been Facilities Manager since 2008.

“My main responsibilities are to manage the maintenance and planned capital works of the College to ensure that the fabric of the buildings is well maintained within the financial restrictions and business requirements. I am also the Health and Safety Advisor to the College and all its 105 members of staff.

“The maintenance team consists of nine tradesmen and handymen – they make a very good team and will tackle almost any project that comes along. This year the Carpenters, Plumbers, Painter and Electrician took on a major refurbishment of 1 Sylvester Road which is a hostel for 16 College students. The project was completed on-time, on-budget and to a high standard. Apart from major works such as this, the team tackles any type of job – from replacing a light bulb to building sets for a May Ball!

“My role varies throughout the year, with our very busy period being in the Summer months from June through to late September with planned maintenance projects. From October through to Christmas tends to be less busy and in the period leading up to the exams, we are very quiet as no disturbance is allowed at all.

“Planning the works is very important to ensure that we have considered all Health and Safety issues and also the timescale and areas to be affected so that our conference business is not disrupted.

“One of my main challenges is identifying when a project can be undertaken as the College calendar is very busy and it can be difficult to find time. But it’s a very rewarding role for me – I enjoy working with my team and the staff at the College and there’s a great feeling of satisfaction when a tricky problem has been resolved or a refurbishment successfully completed. The range of activities is interesting and our team has a great sense of humour which helps!

“Over the years my role has changed and the current agenda is very much based on disaster prevention and recovery. Over the Summer we were hit by one of the worst rainfalls in recent history which caused significant damage to the buildings and could have been very disruptive to the business needs of the College. This was immediately followed by a 16 hour electrical power outage which was again challenging.

“In recent times, communication in and out of the department has had to improve as more and more requests for maintenance come via email. The reporting chain has also grown with more people interested in what is happening which has led me to post a weekly update on project progress at peak times.

“I have recently taken on some of the duties of the Domestic Bursar who retired last year and also support the Catering & Conference Manager with a staff seminar based on working well together to be even better. This is very different from my day-to-day role and again gives me a different a venue to explore and enjoy”.