Parris Ullrich

Regional Operations Director, Middle East and Asia Pacific
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Parris Ullrich

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Regional Operations Director, Middle East and Asia Pacific
"Our people take responsibility and have a passion for their work. We live and breathe the culture, which is a big difference to the ‘clock in, clock out’ experience I’ve seen elsewhere."

Nominated in 2022 as the only woman in the FM Middle East ‘Power 50,’ people, projects, passion and positivity are the key centrepieces of everything that Parris Ullrich brings to Mace. Whether it’s at a personal or professional level, being highly prepared and seeing opportunity in challenge has seen Parris build a brilliant career.

Parris’ Q&A

How did you get into what you do?

My mother and stepfather owned a real estate business in Australia, so I spent many a weekend conducting open houses and being the penciller at auctions – taking down details of bids. There was also a lot of letter box dropping – it was how we used to advertise in the very early ‘90s! It was a natural progression for me to go into property management and then, over time, I grew and moved into Strata Management – covering service charges and residential property management.

I was approached through a contact I had and moved to the Middle East in 2005 to work with a local developer and then joined Mace in 2009 as an Assistant Facilities Manager. Since then, I’ve worked on both the supply chain side and on the client side in several roles as my career has developed.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

No day is ever the same.  I’m lucky enough to work with a large variety of clients and colleagues from different cultures with different demands and that has me constantly interested. I also love the level of responsibility that comes with the role and that drives me to do more and be better every day.

How do you deliver differently to find a better way?

For me, it’s about being able to interpret a client’s vision and then developing a solution that can make that journey happen and deliver on that vision. Being both a new business and firmly established at the same time allows us to have the ability to be as entrepreneurial as we wish, and while there are obviously sometimes limitations as to what we can do or parameters we have to work within, there’s always a seat at the table to put your ideas forward. We foster innovation and don’t have to do what ‘we’ve always done’ if we think that there’s a better way.

What have been your proudest achievements in your recent career?

In all honesty there are too many to list. My proudest moments come from things such as contract renewals where we’ve worked with the client for several years, and they’ve gone to market and determined that we’re the best fit and renew. Then there’s the people-focused side. Attending a client review meeting and getting great feedback about the team is highly satisfying, because it says so much about our culture and how we contribute and put our behaviours into practice.

But there are so many things that make me proud: clients expanding their portfolio with us, the positive feedback we receive on our technology, any industry awards we win and most recently, being part of the founding leadership team at Macro Group.

Why Macro Group?

I’ve been with the business for over eight years, however I’m a three-time re-joiner due to the way contracts work and the subsequent opportunities that followed – but I continued to come back because it truly is a great place to work, and the opportunities are endless.

Rewinding, I started out as an Assistant Facilities Manager in 2009 and have progressed through every grade to where I am now. Before Macro Group, Mace was instrumental in my career growth and put a lot of trust in me and provided me with so many opportunities.

I also love the fact that at Macro Group we are on a human scale, we’re people focused. I know I can call any colleague and that they’ll be motivated, driven and helpful. Our people take responsibility and have a passion for their work – we live and breathe the culture, which is a big difference to the ‘clock in, clock out’ experience I’ve seen elsewhere.

What skills do you need to be good at your job?

I believe that strong leadership skills are vital as you’re responsible for managing a team of highly capable professionals. A key part of this is the ability to communicate effectively with people at all levels of the business, it’s a complex field with lots of moving parts and so having a strategic view underpinned by great organisational skills to help manage tasks, variables and responsibilities on a daily basis helps!

Customer focus and a professional demeanour is also important to build relationships and trust, especially when you work with a vast array of clients that have different ambitions for their sites. Flexibility, adaptability and passion are also essential so that you can balance proactive and reactive opportunities to make the most of them. This is a fast-paced and constantly evolving industry, and you need to be able to adapt to changes in technology, regulations, and evolving client needs and wants in order to stay ahead of the game and so being able to think on your feet and come up with creative solutions to problems is crucial for success in this role.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?

My advice to someone looking to get into this field would be to develop a strong understanding of the industry, and continuously keep up to date with the latest trends and technologies in the field. In my region, I can go into meetings as the only female in the room. You’re aware of it and so go the extra mile to be prepared.

Above all, cultivating a passion for problem-solving, teamwork, and a commitment to delivering high-quality services to clients is crucial in this fast-paced and dynamic industry. Find a mentor (this can really help) and create a network within your business - reach out, there’s a lot you can do to succeed.

Stay challenged, be brave and say yes to doing things outside your role so that you can grow your experience and skillset. Even now, every week I’ll have something that needs to be done that I’m a little anxious about, whether that’s a client presentation or a difficult conversation, but you get through these things, you learn and develop.

This is a fantastic industry with boundless opportunities, so grab it with both hands!

At Macro Group we are dedicated to creating social value. What does making this type of difference mean to you?

I love the volunteering we do to contribute in the communities where we work. In Dubai and my region, we do a lot of collection drives and provide care packages, as we did recently at Eid this year, which provide a range of items such as food, clothes, stationary and we volunteer for a riding for the disabled centre and do a lot of the work there – it’s hugely important to me that we give back.

Sustainability is top of the global agenda and so working with clients to reduce carbon and the use of single-use plastics to make a difference is really important – I hope that having COP28 here in November will help to bring momentum to this drive.

Most people managers say this, but making a difference for our people and helping them to progress and grow means a lot. We were recently able to make a number of promotions and then backfill roles as a result of business growth – that makes a huge difference to the lives of those colleagues, knowing that you have a pathway from junior roles to becoming a Director.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

I’m over halfway through a Project and Operations MBA so that’s my self-enforced passion. When I have time, it’s all about family, health, wellbeing and travel.

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