HMNB Clyde Facility Maintenance Periods
When I started at Faslane straight from the graduate
scheme last September, my first thought was 'what have I let myself
in for here?' The working environment is massive. It takes a bit of
getting used to.
From a graduate's point of view, an FMP (Facility
Maintenance Period) is a substantial project to work on. I've been
able to explore the various technological aspects of the way
different things are installed and maintained. It also helps you
develop your project management and social skills in terms of
dealing with stakeholders, planning meetings and reporting. I've
certainly found that my communication skills have measurably
One of the most noticeable ways in which I've
developed is that I now have the confidence to report to senior
management about what's happening on the Base. I used to be pretty
scared of chairing meetings and taking notes, simple things like
that. But through high-profile projects like this, you
naturally develop your communication skills, which in turn
increases your influence over what happens.
With projects of this nature, you have to keep a lot
of departments and stakeholders happy. So you need to make sure
that the information you give people is accurate, and that work is
kept on schedule. You can't just chop and change your plans,
because these are busy people with lots of demands on their time.
You don't want to come across as someone who is always hassling -
you've got to recognise everyone's issues and let them get on with
it. As you progress, you start developing your understanding of how
people think and work, and what they need to hear from you. None of
that is taught at university.
On that subject, one thing I had to quickly shake off
was the graduate tag. You inevitably carry that around with you a
bit to begin with - but getting involved in a big project like
this, you soon start to gain a bit of authority. Since being here
full-time, I've worked to establish a rapport at every level -
people are now actually coming to me for guidance on issues. I
think it helps that Babcock is supporting me through an MSc in
maintenance management, which is probably the most relevant
qualification you could have for planning large-scale maintenance
I think that the key to running a Facility Maintenance
Period (which, in the way we are organising it, is a new method for
Clyde) is planning and organisation, combined with good people
management. Your effectiveness depends on interacting with
different people at all levels and creating relationships with
everyone from the guys who man the cranes on the jetties, to all
the contractors who carry out the work, to all the staff involved
from other departments. It's my role to co-ordinate all these
different teams to work productively together, sometimes with as
little as 24 hours' notice.
The planning is part of the challenge of working here.
You can lose your resources at a moment's notice if something of a
higher priority turns up - which it can - right out of the blue.
That can leave you in a bit of a predicament. And of course, a
sudden spell of bad weather can hold up everything. In the end,
though, resource allocation is driven by customer requirements. So
we provide support as best we can.
Working on a project like this does give you a good
taste of both the shop floor and the upper management environments.
Every week, I'm involved in some pretty high-level meetings, which
were a bit daunting at first but which I now have developed the
confidence to chair. That's a good measure of the progress you can
make - you quickly gain experience at so many different