On International Women's Day 2021, we #ChooseToChallenge misconceptions and prejudices about cleaning. Our cleaning operatives are skilled workers who provide an essential service. And we offer opportunities for cleaners to develop and progress within our business, from our award-winning IMPACT training scheme to our apprenticeship programme.
Today we're highlighting just some of the women who are making a career out of cleaning, from supervisors such as Meena Krishna Pandey in India and Matthakon Chimsarai in Thailand, to Global Head of Cleaning Yvonne Taylor, who took a job as a cleaner/pot washer after being made redundant.
Matthakon joined PCS Thailand 25 years ago as a cleaner and was then promoted to a cleaning supervisor. She is currently the account executive in charge of the abseiling cleaning team - a specialist cleaning team trained to high health and safety standards. She says: "No matter what other people think of cleaners, our colleagues should be proud of themselves."
Selina is qualified chef and worked in hospitality for 10 years until she had her daughter. She became a cleaner as it offered her the flexibility she wanted. In the four years she's been with OCS New Zealand, she's been promoted from cleaner to team leader to site supervisor to contracts supervisor and now contract service manager for Tasman, looking after 80 colleagues. She says: "Having been a cleaner and worked my way up, I'm always prepared to jump in with my team, no matter what we are doing; I am not one to watch from the side-line."
Meena Krishna Pandey
Meena took a job with OCS India as a chambermaid. She is now a senior supervisor at one of our retail customer sites. She says: "When I first joined in 2011, I didn't even know how to dry mop, but I now train other new recruits on handling and operating cleaning machines and equipment. People outside the FM industry do not understand the value of housekeeping, but during the pandemic, we were at the frontline making sure spaces are clean and safe."
Joanne had jobs in cleaning, hairdressing and catering before joining OCS Ireland in 2019 as an area supervisor. She was promoted to contract manager last year and now looks after our customers in the Cork region - including 70 sites at just one cleaning contract.
She says: "I applied to OCS as my kids were at an age that I was able to progress my career, and coming from a cleaning background, this job suited me. There is always something to learn in this industry. I immediately felt at home with OCS and I have made great relationships with managers, cleaners and customers."
Andrea joined OCS UK as an administrator. She was invited to enrol on a Level 5 operations departmental manager apprenticeship, and within a few months, she moved into soft services. She is currently acting soft services manager, looking after cleaners and porters for our government customer.
Last year, Andrea passed her apprenticeship with merit and was also awarded chartered manager status. She says: "OCS has helped me develop the skills I need to be able to perform my role as a manager."
Yvonne took a job as a cleaner 26 years ago after being made redundant. She is now Global Head of Cleaning for OCS.
She says: "Life sometimes takes a turn you were not expecting. I was made redundant from a successful job as a bakery manager's assistant. My husband and I had just bought our first home together and I had a mortgage and bills to pay. My dad always said any job is better than no job, so I applied for and got the position of cleaner/pot washer.
"The great thing about working in facilities management, especially in soft services like cleaning, catering, and security, is that you have opportunities for personal growth - you can make a career out of it. I-m immensely proud of my achievements. It has taken a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice but it could not have been achieved if I had not taken that first job in cleaning."