People are at the heart of everything we do, which is why we enjoy getting to know more about those who make Hazlewoods. The second person in our #Hazlewoodspeople series is Facilities Manager, Laurence Beard.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
Well, there is no typical day, which is what I enjoy most about the role. No two days are the same and I like that I'm not sat at my desk for too long. I go from being up on the roof, to checking emails, to being down in the cellars, to liaising with various contractors, to fixing a light bulb, to ordering office supplies, to being outside and maintaining the grounds. It's certainly challenging but it keeps me on my toes. My family have always instilled in me a strong work ethic, where you pull your weight, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. Regardless of the task, I'm happy to turn my hand to anything. I like knowing that I'm keeping things ticking over for everyone, from filling up the coffee beans and restocking loo roles, through to installing new technology and planting trees!
How did the opportunity of Facilities Manager present itself?
I joined Hazlewoods in September 2019 to help set up the facilities department. I had actually worked for Hazlewoods previously on and off as a contractor when I was running my own property maintenance business, so I knew the firm quite well already. I remember fixing a fan in the HR office one day, when I heard Joy Elkins, Senior Recruiter, talking about a Facilities Manager role. I casually joked that I would do it, but they ended up taking it quite literally and before I knew it, I was nearing the end of a two-hour interview!
I certainly felt it was time for a change and wanted more of a work-life balance, which self-employment at the time didn’t provide. However, I still wanted a challenge, so it seemed like an ideal opportunity.
Tell us more about working in the Hazlewoods buildings and grounds.
I love them. Both the Cheltenham and Staverton offices are amazing, historical buildings, with one in the heart of the town and the other nestled in 24 acres of countryside. It might seem strange, but I've always seen buildings as living objects. They each have a history and are filled with stories. I have restored several properties in and around Cheltenham and each time I drive past them, it's as if they're saying 'thank you' for giving them another chance. Therefore, having the opportunity to make the Hazlewoods offices better each day and preserve them for future generations of employees, makes me feel good!
I also find the Hazlewoods culture is reflected within the buildings. Whilst they are an organisation with a forward thinking and innovative outlook, they hold onto their traditional values and take pride in their history and roots. I joined when Hazlewoods were in the midst of celebrating their centenary year, which fuelled my passion to get the balance right between maintaining the original features of the architecture and surroundings, alongside future modern developments.
What has been the most interesting project you have worked on at Hazlewoods so far?
Funnily enough, the most interesting project so far that wasn't on the job description was the pandemic! I was just six months into the job before COVID-19 hit, so most of my role over the past year has been adapting to the changes and creating a safe working environment for staff to return to. It was strange going from bustling offices of almost 400 people combined, to just six of us! Although, it has been great working for an open-minded and caring organisation during these times. Hazlewoods adapted quickly to change and always remained optimistic throughout everything for the safe return of office life, which, from a facilities perspective, we have worked hard to create and gradually reintroduce.
Aside from keeping the offices ticking over during the quieter times, 2020 also gave us an opportunity to get stuck into some renovation projects. Partner, Tony Flambard, put his trust in me to freshen up our boardroom, meeting rooms and kitchen, whilst keeping the original features such as the coving, fireplaces and windows at the heart of the rooms. It certainly made the decorating and maintenance slightly easier having an empty office, as we didn’t need to worry about noise levels, making a mess or turning the electricity off at random times!
I also enjoy the maintenance of the beautiful Staverton grounds, as it's all about keeping everything healthy. Since joining Hazlewoods, we've lost 10 trees so far through disease or storms, but we always try to replace them and have planted 20 new trees so far this year. I must also mention the new patio and barbeque area we've created, something which everyone is going crazy for this summer – when the sun's out at least! It's great to see people out and enjoying themselves in the grounds again.
Who would you most like to meet and why?
I've actually been very lucky to meet quite a few famous people already, including the Queen and Richard Branson! As a keen artist, I suppose I would like to have asked Vincent van Gogh if he knew how famous his paintings would become - only for him to probably say that he knocked the sunflower painting up in 10 minutes and that he didn't think much of it anyway!
Sounds soppy, but if I'm completely honest, the person I would most like to meet is my soulmate and fortunately I've already found her - my partner, Tania.
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