Our Bracknell BID Board directors give their time voluntarily and without payment to help govern and champion the work of our BID team.
They help us steer our projects and planning so, to say thank you for playing such a huge part in the estate, we would like to share their stories.
Meet Maria Sabey, our Bracknell BID Chair….
Tell us a little bit about you and your company
I work for Fujitsu and have done so for 22 years. What I love most about the company is that it is a really forward thinking and inclusive organization, with a strong, responsible business culture.
I am very proud of the way in which Fujitsu stepped up to support customers and employees during the pandemic, and of it fast and successful transformation to home working.
Our response as a company meant we could keep footfall on site very low, so that those who could not work from home were better protected.
Can you give us some background to your working career?
I had a long career in operational management – specifically facilities management. I have worked my way up in Fujitsu and very proud to be the Head of Property within the UK and Ireland. I am also the environmental lead for the company, and heavily involved in safety management.
I have always felt very passionate about training and development, and my single biggest motivator is seeing people progress with their careers.
Apprenticeships are an amazing opportunity for any sized business, and it is something that we actively embrace at Fujitsu.
How has your company adapted during COVID?
The organisation transformed very quickly just before the first lockdown by inviting the vast majority of employees to work remotely. There was a significant focus on ensuring all employees were supported with relevant equipment, furniture, IT support and, importantly, support for individual and collective wellbeing.
In parallel, the UK&I Property Team worked collaboratively with colleagues from within Occupational Safety & Health to risk assess all operational buildings – this ensured those working from site were safe and equally supported. We are now taking a different approach to working lives and our flexible working initiative – Work Your Way – has been launched. Where possible, employees may chose to continue working remotely, work flexibly between offices and their homes. For those who prefer to return to office based working, we will work towards this as the external landscape permits. We are therefore looking at the way in which we use our space and our service provision, which is resulting in many changes and adjustments to accommodate a very different dynamic within our workforce.
How are you planning to return / how have you returned?
Return to work for Fujitsu employees is phased – some employees have needed to work on site throughout, and this has been primarily due to secure environments and/or secure IT systems with the majority working from home.
As of early June, we offered out newly created Hot Desks to managers with a view to up to 25% of building capacity being made available. Employees can of course now chose their working location so take up has so far been very low and as we monitor regional rates of infection. Our employees in the Northwest for example have not as yet been invited to return.
All Sites look very different – we have floor markings in place to encourage social distancing, there is signage on common touch points which are subject to much increased cleaning, desks are labelled as either green or red indicating their status, we have many cleaning/sanitizing stations in place, and thermal imaging cameras at entrance points for mandated temperature monitoring. We also offer lateral flow tests at reception for those who do not have their own arrangements in place or for those who would like a little extra assurance.
Any advice for other BID businesses around COVID that you can give based on your experiences?
Remain open to change and transformation – the new normal will look very different to the way in which we previously lived and work. Seek feedback from your employees and look at ways in which your teams can work more sustainably with emphasis on flexible working where this is possible. Check in on people much more frequently and importantly, support neighbouring businesses. It is far easier for larger organisations to make changes and adjustments and it is up to us, the business community, to harness the goodwill and collaboration seen during 2020. We need to make sure we embed this culture into the new normal. What facilities can a larger organisation offer out to small organisations within the business area? How can we network more and encourage local trading partnerships to grown? This is certainly something the BID will be focusing on and encouraging.
Why are you a BID board director/why do you volunteer your time for the local business community?
I have always worked closely with the local authority who initially sparked my interest going back about 5 years. I then met Bob Collis, the Chair of the ESDP, and we held a number of meetings and informal discussions exchanging ideas around the way in which a BID could bring many benefits to the area. From there, we all started to approach other organisations to seek their views and realised there was much wider interest and support. We then formed a BID Committee and spent time listening to organisations within our now defined target area together with formal surveys. We established a relationship with People for Better Business (pfbb) – our new strategic BID Partner – and once a Business Plan was developed, we went to formal Ballot in October 2019.
My reasons are very simple – I’ve very passionate about the business community supporting each other as it brings about advantage to all organisations within the area and often wider. The more we improve the area the more advantage we bring to the business community and hopefully attract others to use the area as a base.
The BID is in its second year now and we transformed quite quickly to adapt to the external landscape – we are now focused on recovery and we hope to bring the business community together more as we progress – there are so many mutual benefits and I’m very committed to another year as the Chair of the BID as I work with so many engaged and passionate professionals who give up their time for common goals.
Why are you passionate about Bracknell BID area?
I’m a Welsh girl and grew up in Ireland. I’ve worked in and around Bracknell for some 22 years now, and I live locally in Woodley. In previous years I’ve attended many different networking events, and always felt we needed a little more continuity as we can lose momentum as the event closes. I’ve often wondered what else could be achieved and I do see this as a key role for the BID as we start to recover.
Do you feel passionate about business growth in the area?
Yes absolutely – there are so many advantages to Bracknell as a location and we have a great range of businesses in the area from some well-known names to smaller organisations, SME’s and those in startups. I think we all know there will be changes to varying extents as we start to recover socially and financially and what better time for local organisations to collaborate, support each other, establish trading relationships and bring about improvements to the environment which will also benefit our employees.
What skills and experience do you bring to the BID board?
My passion and belief in our Business Plan which is based on feedback from businesses within the area. I’m very focused on service delivery and motivated to work with others to ensure we deliver against the projects – the business community could and should measure the achievements of the BID as we do set out what we plan to achieve. I’m also very driven, I don’t give up easily and I believe in the role of the BID in bringing about the change we have all identified as needed.
What difference do you hope the BID will have made in the next five years?
We have a Business Plan which sets out our key objectives and as this is based on direct feedback from the businesses we represent, this will be our key achievements/measures. However, there is more to be done and the BID won’t shy away from helping businesses who are struggling where it is possible to do so – initiatives such as the dedicated PCO’s, the newly installed defibrillators, the progress we are making around improving our green spaces etc, could all bring about much wider benefits for so many within the area.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Riding my horse or spending time at the stables – this is truly my happy place and a chance to recharge my batteries. I have all my best ideas when I am with the horses. I am also a baker and enjoy baking for friends and family.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
When something goes wrong, step back and look at your own input/handling or performance first.