A celebration of unity in diversity
August 25 2015 10:34 PM

RECOGNITION: A female employee, 2nd from right, is seen with FMM managers after receiving her performance award from the company.

By Umer Nangiana

Attired in traditional colours, they cherished every single moment. Cheering every move of their dancing and singing colleagues, these men and women coming from more than 20 different cultural backgrounds gathered under one roof to celebrate diversity.
The occasion was Eid celebration and they once again created an environment where everyone came together to form, what they call, the FMM culture. FMM (Facility Management & Maintenance) is a subsidiary of Spanish company Ferrovial Services International, which undertakes maintenance works for Qatar Airways at Hamad International Airport (HIA).
As part of its corporate social responsibility, which puts its employees’ health and well-being high on the priority list, the company regularly organises recreational activities and social gatherings. The recent Eid celebration, organised in the residential compound of Ezdan 38, was held in the same spirit.   
“One of the key aims of the company is to create a team, the team FMM. For me, it is great to see a team of people from so many cultures working together,” says George Thomson, Operations Director at FMM, speaking to Community.
It was the first ever experience for him to witness such a culturally diverse crowd mingling. “I have not seen this before. This is fantastic and really enjoyable. Such nights are important for the health of both the employees and the company,” adds Thomson.
Members of FMM’s more than 4,000-strong employees’ fraternity presented some powerful performances in a jam-packed community hall where they showcased traditional dances to the tunes of folk songs. The event also witnessed people winning awards as employee of the month in gold, silver and bronze categories besides those awarded for best maintained villas. The best performers of the night also did not go empty handed.
“This is a very interesting period and it offers a great opportunity to all of us to try and understand different cultures of people here from more than 20 nationalities. And we are trying to create one single culture which is the FMM culture,” Maria Dolores Del Cocho, the HR Director at FMM, tells Community.
FMM is one company that provides its employees with best available accommodation complemented with all the basic facilities and amenities. More than 3,000 of them live in villas in Ezdan 38, which has been hired by FMM exclusively for its employees.   
Maria says the female employees live in a separate compound. “We try to provide them better accommodation besides this kind of recreational activities every month or two. Recently, we celebrated Olympics in which more than 500 employees participated. We believe sport is essential for the good health of our employees. We have a team of more than 60 nurses and a doctor that takes care of the health needs of the staff,” the HR Director informs.
Speaking about the company’s profile, Thomson says, nearly 4,300 people on the project do anything from highly skilled engineering jobs to specialised cleaning at HIA.
“Our team is very diverse both culturally and in terms of skill sets. Most of our manpower comes from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines. The managerial and engineering staff mainly comes from Spain, and management is a mix,” says Thomson.
Managing such culturally diverse teams, he adds, is fun. “I have only been in Qatar for seven or eight months and I have met with some of the most exciting teams of my career, which has been a long one. Working with multicultural people is absolutely fantastic and tonight I have seen the talent that they possess,” says the Operations Director.
Speaking about some of the facilities provided to the employees at FMM, the Accommodation and Relations Manager, Navaf tells Community that the company provides its employees with one of the finest accommodations in town.  “No matter, they are from the janitorial or engineering department; a manager or a labourer, we provide everyone with equal facilities. This is one of the best facilities that I have seen in my experience in any of the companies anywhere,” he says.
Even the big companies in Qatar or outside might not be that generous on healthcare provisions, he says. They would, for instance, provide health cards or insurances yet people have to go and get medicines for themselves. At FMM, they take care of the tiniest of things. “We treat them at our clinics and if required, we send them to hospitals and everything is provided for,” claims Navaf.
Ramon Botin is the Health, Safety and Environment Quality incharge at FMM. He and his team look after the general healthcare needs of the entire staff. This year he has run an extensive campaign on heat stress in order to avoid heat stroke and other problems related with heat.
“Fortunately, so far this summer, we had no major cases of heat stroke. Starting February this year, we have been training our staff and have provided them awareness about heat-related illnesses besides cutting down on working hours during extremely hot conditions,” Botin says.   
“We have also trained supervisors in order to identify symptoms of heat stress. We provide backpacks with water for staffers who have to work outdoors. They have water with mineral salts to prevent dehydration,” adds the health expert.
Cultural activities have been a permanent feature at all celebrations at FMM since its establishment more than a year and half ago. “Such activities give the employees a sense of importance, giving them a chance to show their creative side,” says Navaf.
“We believe in our staff. It is their contribution and without them we are nothing. A bunch of managers cannot to do anything alone. We encourage them and they strive to grow the business and the company,” he goes on to add.
Managing people from different cultural backgrounds can be difficult at times but then that is why Navaf says he and other managers are there. “It is fun. You get to learn many things that you have never experienced in your life and you get to meet new people who are very different from each other,” he recounts.
In Ezdan 38, the occupancy is more than 3,000. In Ezdan 29, they have occupied another 500 beds. The company also has a female accommodation in Al Thani properties nearby. “The best thing is that in all these accommodations, we have provided all the facilities across the board,” says Navaf.
Maria, the HR Director, says that currently the company is focused on HIA but is working hard to find more business opportunities in Qatar. “Our idea is to expand our business here in Qatar,” she says. While Thomson says the first and foremost challenge for the company is to always deliver something exceptional to Qatar Airways and HIA. For the future, it aims to expand beyond the airport however.
He says the market in Qatar is very active and their company has been seeking opportunities in this market. They have been delivering at the HIA and will continue to do so in any future projects that they might undertake.

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