Ahead of World FM Day on Wednesday 12th May, members of the Business Services Association’s Cleaning Committee have prepared a series of their personal profiles aimed at promoting the cleaning sector and to celebrate working within Soft FM. The profiles below are testament both to the rewards of working within the industry as well the variety of potential routes to working within Soft FM.
The BSA Cleaning Committee provides a forum to share industry best practice, including on skills and training, draws up messaging about the sector and represents the interests of cleaning service providers to stakeholders. Thank you to those committee members who have supplied their profiles below.
Mel Richardson, Head of Cleaning, Vinci Facilities, and Chair of the BSA Cleaning Committee
I began my career in cleaning whilst at school, as a part time job in a local hotel. I enjoyed the job satisfaction that the job gave me transforming an area from chaos to calm which has remained with me.
My need to gets things in an orderly state came in the form of my first job in the food industry.
I loved the intensity and speed required to deliver a clean for the next production run and the rigorous standards required. It was a steep learning curve but one which drove me into a career in Soft FM.
I didn’t move companies very often and worked my way up through the ranks in Facilities. On joining VINCI I was given the opportunity to specialize in Soft Services and create our own cleaning self delivery model. This has been the biggest and most rewarding challenge.
Apart from the job satisfaction, you get to go to some amazing locations that you would never normally see. But most of all you meet some fantastic people, who make the industry what it is.
Things have changed more in the last 5 years than on the rest of my career and the transformation will continue with added momentum with the advent of the current pandemic. The new technology and innovations make the industry more prominent in FM and present a more exiting career prospect which I hope will inspire a new generation.
I enjoy the transformation that can occur when some changes are made to the cleaning delivery. But for me the most important part is training people. Teaching the science behind cleaning, helping our Operatives understand how to work safely and more effectively.
Looking back at myself at 20, at art college without any career plan. I wouldn’t change anything.
I found a career that I have really enjoyed and still do. I would encourage anyone to try it. But to forget the stigma and worrying about what people think. I am proud to say that I work in the cleaning industry. You will have a rewarding career with endless opportunities.
Donna Brown, Divisional Director, ISS Facility Services Healthcare
I went to university in Birmingham and wanted to be a teacher originally, but at the last minute changed my mind and joined the NHS Domestic Services Management Training Scheme with West Midlands Regional Health Authority. After successfully completing the course my first role in 1986 was Assistant Domestic Services Manager at Hope Hospital, now Salford Royal. The management training scheme gave me the best possible start that I could have hoped for, working at all levels in cleaning from frontline, supervision, to management, which provided great grounding and insight into the importance of cleaning.
Thirty-six years later I am proud to say that I am still working in FM because it’s such a rewarding and motivating industry. FM contributes to the successful running of an organisations infrastructure, often unnoticed but very much appreciated by building users.
The pandemic has heightened the importance of cleaning and the vital role that it plays in creating healthier and safer environments. I was part of the support team that facilitated the provision of FM services to Nightingale London, working behind the scenes. One of the many phenomenal experiences was the number of people who joined the Nightingale team from outside the industry who had never heard of FM before, they were absolutely captivated by it, especially the significant difference they could personally make to people’s lives through professional cleaning and the assurance that it gives. I am pleased to report that many of the team have decided to stay in FM.
If I were talking to my younger self about joining the industry, I would say that you should always love what you do. We are in work for most of our lives, and if you love what you do you will remain enthusiastic, passionate, authentic, and positive. I’m grateful that I followed my own advice, I would recommend joining FM and the cleaning industry, you will become part of a family that nurtures and cares. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is developing people and helping to create opportunities for them to flourish.
Anna Hallas, National Domestic Manager – Compass Group
When I was at college, we went to visit an FM department in a hospital, and I knew during that visit that this was the career path I wanted to follow and I have never deviated from that. I love it, I love working in hospitals and knowing that the work we do really makes a difference to patients and their treatment.
The industry is ever changing, the environments we work in are complex and the infection control element is interesting and requires analysis and constant vigilance with new working practices, technology etc. very interesting area to work in.
If I could talk to my younger self about joining the industry, I would say that you have made the right choice this been a great career for me. I would never have dreamed that I would have been involved with so many interesting people, travelled so much or felt that we contributed so much to patients in the work we do.
Michelle Larkins, Account Director – Salisbury Group
My journey into Soft FM started straight out of University as I was one of eleven graduates to join ISS UK’s first graduate scheme intake, during the Graduate scheme I spent two years in four different roles all in Soft FM, from single service Cleaning or Hospitality to TFM. I applied for the ISS graduate scheme after finishing University understanding I wanted to progress into a career in management but without knowing if this was Operational or Projects.
The ISS graduate scheme enabled me to experience both and led me to make my decision to take a role as Contract Manager for the Soft FM of Middlesex University as my first formal position. I spent 9 years with ISS in various Operational and Service Development roles in Corporate, Educational and Healthcare environments. After leaving ISS I joined Salisbury Group where I now work as an Account Director looking after TFM and IFM Contracts.
I stay in Soft FM for two reasons, firstly because I really enjoy the people element every day I get to work with a diverse range of individuals, who are incredibly hard working and committed to making the environments we work in clean and safe. My second is that most individuals who work in the Soft FM industry are not recognised for their contribution to the working environment and I have always wanted to be the Manager or Director that ensures they understand just how important they are and now more than ever how integral their roles are to keeping buildings clean and safe for their users.
Cleaning industry keeps me motivated for the reasons above the people and my commitment to removing the stereotypes around Cleaning and taking the opportunity in my role to promote the hard work and commitment of the individuals who work in it.
If I could talk to my younger self about joining the industry, I would say that whilst you will not anticipate a career in FM, you will join it and go on an incredible journey personally and professionally.
Ed Walker, Head of Sales – Lita Group
I had a complete career change in 2003 from Hospitality into the security industry. Over the years it was a natural progression into additional services including cleaning. I stay in it because I enjoy it. The variety and constant interaction with others provides fantastic job satisfaction.
A mixture of witnessing highly motivated teams providing excellent customer service and also having the ability to innovate and present clients with bespoke solutions.
I am particularly proud of our cleaning teams within the education sector who worked tirelessly to make sure that their sites remained safe learning environments. This meant that this critical sector could continue to function for the benefit of the children of key workers and their parents.
If I could talk to my younger self about joining the industry, I would say try and experience as many different roles and sectors as possible to broaden your experience and knowledge of all of the different environments where cleaning is required, which is pretty much universal.
Jamie Wright, Managing Director – Incentive FM
I have worked in the cleaning industry for over 19 years now – all that time with the same company, working my way through a number of roles. I left school with minimal qualifications and didn’t want to go to university, so was unsure what path I wanted to take. I had always enjoyed meeting new people and selling so started my career as a junior Business Development Manager and the cleaning industry allowed me to visit many exciting new places and meet many interesting people, so after a very short time I was hooked.
The thing about the Cleaning Industry that keeps me motivated is making a difference to such a wide range of people and places. Without the hard-working people of the cleaning industry many commercial offices, municipal properties and leisure facilities just could not function and that is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
If I could talk to my younger self about joining the industry, I would say that he cleaning industry is incredibly diverse and rich in opportunity as well as very welcoming of people from all walks of life. It is one you can work in and learn an array of new skills as you go, and many companies will support those that wish to learn and make a career in this fantastic sector.