Certified Fellow in Asset Management (CFAM)
Name: Mark Mackenzie
Role: Strategic Consulting Manager
Location: K2 Technology, Perth, WA
Mark Mackenzie's career in asset management has taken him from the Australian Army to some of Australia's leading resource companies. We caught up with him in a one-to-one interview. Read on to discover more about his journey to becoming a leading reliability engineer and learn from his insights into how you can really progress your career.
Why asset management?
It seemed to fit with some of my natural passions of trying to make things work better, trying to make things optimal. It also enabled me to put some of the skill sets I had learnt over the years into practice. The more I became involved in it, the more I learnt, understood and desired to become successful in it.
The other thing is, I think that the subject of Asset Management quite broad ranging. I didn't need to stay in one area. Asset management has such a broad scope of activities and disciplines that you can always be touching on other areas which keeps it exciting. The interrelationship between elements of asset management continues to reinforce the need for a holistic approach.
How long have you been working in the asset management sector?
More than twenty-five years.
What is your speciality?
My speciality is reliability engineering, so all our aspects of reliability engineering - that's the discipline that I have done a lot of work in and the subject that I lecture in at the university.
What drew you to explore more about reliability engineering?
I got into reliability engineering almost by accident when I was in the military. I was offered a Master’s Degree in Reliability Engineering, which I thought would be a good skill set to have. After the degree the more I got into it, the more I enjoyed it, the more I learnt and became comfortable and confident with it. It seemed to me, that reliability engineering was an area where lots of people had an interest and concerns and queries that I was able to provide them answers for. I naturally grew in this discipline and did lots of work in different reliability projects and learnt little bits and made mistakes and just got a good experience in that area.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?
I can't remember if someone specifically gave it to me but it's the advice I would give and that is get involved with lots of different things. Always stick your hand up and volunteer to do whatever jobs there are, whether you think they're good or bad, because it gives you a broad knowledge base. Everything actually fits together at some stage and you never know when you're going to be called on to use that experience again. So, just put your hand up and volunteer and take every opportunity that's presented to better yourself and gain knowledge.
What makes a great asset manager?
I think someone that's adaptable and flexible. There are very few people that know who are gurus in every aspect of asset management. So, I think having a good understanding of all the different aspects and maybe specialising in one or two.
Reliability engineering is my specialty but I do need to know about spares, I do need to know about cataloguing, I do need to know about maintenance. So, the more the other areas that you're conversant with and confident with, the better and more rounded you are as an asset manager.
So, I think picking up extra skills and learning those things that maybe aren't your core business - but picking up those extra skills just to know where they fit and complement what you are doing. Asset management is a group of inter-related activities and everyone needs to come together and do the right thing in their area because, if one of those areas isn't done well, then asset management as a whole fails. The best maintenance plans will fail if there are no spares, or the wrong maintenance competency is identified, or the support equipment is unavailable.
What is the most exciting trend that you’ve noticed in asset management today?
I think people are understanding that asset management is a holistic approach, so with more relevant data, new software and all the other technologies now available companies can see the interrelationships like never before. I also think that industries are getting more aware that asset management is an actual discipline and there is value to the business in getting it right.
In the past it was often considered a burden to do maintenance and hold spares and manage warehousing and all the other support activities. It was a burden and companies didn't see it as a way of really helping their bottom line. So by getting more recognition and more understanding of what asset management truly is and the value it can bring to companies if done right vindicates what I and other have been promoting for several years.
What is the biggest challenge facing up-and-coming asset managers today?/ What advice would you give to an up-and-coming asset manager today?
The biggest challenge is being able to quantify and sell the value of asset management. Most people that are playing in asset management know or feel that what they're doing is valuable but sometimes it's hard to convince other people that control funds or control projects that asset management provides tangible benefits. Sometimes it is difficult to build a business case to really have others understand why asset management is so important and how important it is to get it right at the right time of the life-cycle.
The advice I would give is that, if you're going to do your work, obviously do it well. But justify your existence; prove that what you're doing in the asset management space is going to bring value to the business. If it's going to bring value to the business, you've got to be able to demonstrate it, quantify it and really argue your case.
What is the biggest challenge facing the asset management sector today/your particular field of asset management today?
Obtaining high level specific training in the disciples of asset management. There are several training courses around Australia delivering basic training, but most of the top-level high-quality specific disciple training is done overseas.eg post graduate reliability training . The people that I know in the industry that have got a really good grasp of reliability have done their post-graduate reliability studies overseas.
What is your proudest career achievement?
It's hard to say. I had a whole career in the military and had some unique experiences. I have received a number of awards in and out of the military but I just like being able to help people. I enjoy giving people good solutions to problems they have encountered and getting good feedback from them saying, "The work that you've done has been valuable to us."
I also like teaching, so when people come back after a training course and they say, "I really appreciate that. I learned a lot from that course, it's really turned the light on." Being able to mentor people and see them progress, I think is probably what I enjoy the most.
I consider my most rewarding job the two years I had doing an aid project in Vanuatu, where I was responsible for installing water supplies in remote villages. The work was difficult and challenging but it delivered a tangible benefit to the people in those villages and they were so happy that work was done. I just felt that the work that I had done was really contributing to the community and they appreciated it.
What’s next for you?
What's next for me is that I want to gradually retire and do aid work in places that actually benefit from my skills, helping people that actually need it.
When you’re not busy at work, what do you enjoying doing to unwind/relax/explore?
I do maintenance and engineering projects at home, on my property. I've got a six-acre property so I'm always tinkering, building things or doing maintenance of some type. I have lots of tools and toys so I like to make different things.
In an ever-changing and competitive work environment, it can be difficult to distinguish yourself. Consider your potential and become certified in asset management today.[http://www.amcouncil.com.au/certification/]