Newcomer of the Year 2021


Alex Ballintine, Operations Manager, Mears Facilities Management

Newcomer of the Year 2021

“Alex has made the role of contract manager his own. Mears FM’s idea of a contract manager does not align with many other companies, others don’t need to manage the vast array of different elements that our managers do. Everything from financial, H&S, staff, social value, technical knowledge, multi-stakeholder client relationships – it’s all there.“ – Tom Griffin, regional director Scotland – Mears FM

Alex Ballintine is a contract manager with Mears FM on a PPP2 (Public Private Partnership Programme Two) Highland Schools contract in Inverness, having joined the company in 2019 as an operations manager. Alex’s previous roles were as a business processing manager at NSL and, before that, with Serco delivering local authority social services including housing management and environmental services.

He is responsible for delivering hard and soft FM services at multiple locations, managing a planned life cycle model to provide effective upkeep of buildings. Managing a group that delivers customer service in line with contractual KPIs and SLAs, Alex ensures that all reactive, planned, statutory and non-statutory preventative maintenance programmes are completed on time and to budget, as well as monitoring, evaluating and controlling the use of subcontractors and suppliers.

He attends client meetings to give operational updates on performance and contractual targets and ensures that the provider is fully compliant with ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001 by conducting audits and putting corrective actions in place. He provides project management for all life cycle works and guarantees that an effective water management programme is in place. In addition to assisting in the preparation of bids and local business development activities, and motivating colleagues, he conducts primary liaison with clients and stakeholders.

Results gleaned

Senior colleagues point out that Ballentine was hired because of his background to manage job process flow. However, it became clear that his capabilities ran beyond processing jobs and although he began almost from scratch in terms of some FM, his capabilities fitted Mears’ idea of contract managers, whose duties encompass financial, health and safety, staff, social value, technical knowledge, and multi-stakeholder client relationships.

Despite the big learning curve, Alex has achieved both objectives, with a firm grip on the essential elements of the largest contract within Mears FM, Alpha Schools Ltd in the Highlands of Scotland, a complex 30-year contract containing life cycle, reactive, PPM, remedial works, project works across one of the largest council areas in Scotland.

Best practice learning point

He has imposed a positive impact on his team by regarding their welfare as paramount, ensuring training needs are addressed and making sure all his appraisals are fair and comprehensive. Reflecting Mears’ social value standards, Alex and his team have worked alongside the client to donate £10,000 in funding for free school meals during the pandemic. He also has a programme in place to recycle and donate redundant white goods within the schools to local charities.

Since becoming contracts manager, he has also rolled out team training for legionella prevention, fire marshal training to FMA and FCC site-based staff, and training to the maintenance team joiners and handymen to ensure they keep plant and building fabric compliant.

Key takeaways:

  • Skilled operational management with a proven track record of delivering change
  • City and Guilds-qualified in water risk assessments and pool plant operating
  • IOSH-trained and qualified
  • Worked alongside supported living managing commercial and domestic properties
  • Excellent people management with a determination of ensuring low attrition and absence.
  • Key organisational awareness with attention to detail to deliver against targets
  • Leads the way in delivering excellent customer service