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rachel mann

Career Ladder talks to Rachel Mann head of corporate operations at UK Waste Solutions

What was your first ever job?
Working in a cake factory whilst at college.

What was your first job in the FM sector?
Working for UK Waste Solutions Ltd (UKWSL).

When did you first hear the term ‘facilities management’? And what did you think it meant then?
I first heard the term facilities management when I joined UKWSL, for me it was everything to do with the management of buildings to ensure that they are maintained and space within these buildings was being used effectively.

How did you progress through the profession to your current role?
I originally joined the company as operations/customer services executive, moving onto office manager then progressing to head of corporate operations. My responsibilities included managing a customer services team of 12, an operations team of seven and compliance team of three. More recently, I have had the opportunity to start a course containing six modules that will further assist me on the path to becoming a ‘future leader’ and potentially on the UKWSL board of decision markers. Throughout my time with UKWSL I have been fully committed to the business and the direction it is going in, this is what I believe has allowed me to progress and be such an integral part of the business. It makes me proud to think how much I have achieved.

Do you have any qualifications or training in FM? And how have you benefited from them?
No formal qualifications, although I have been on various internal and external training courses provided by the company. Over the years I have gained a lot of my knowledge first hand from experience and working in the sector. I am currently training through Stirling Training Consultancy; they are assisting in making sure I have all the tools I need to embrace my journey as a key decision maker in UKWSL.

What was your worst ever interview?
I don’t think I have had a worst interview, fortunately every job I have gone for to date, I have managed to get.

What was the best job that you never got?
Every job I have had has played an important part in my career in terms of learning and growing as a person. At the moment I think I am in the best job so far and very much looking forward to my future with UKWSL.

What is your greatest contribution to the FM sector, or your current role?
My greatest contribution has been to develop a really strong team, who are passionate about what they do. We believe in going the extra mile for our customers and I have contributed to ensuring we have a team that take ownership, are hungry to succeed and feel that they have given their best every day. That is the culture that UKWSL are creating.

What’s changed most since you started in FM?
Sustainability has become increasingly important within the industry, we at UKWSL have identified this and have joined the Sustainability School and are now proud gold members.

If you could do one thing differently in your career in FM, what would it be?
On a personal note, I would do more with our supply chain, although we have made great strides over the past couple of years in building more creative and sustainable partnerships, there is still a lot more to do especially with getting data in a consistent and timely manner. I know where we want to get to and am working hard with the business and especially our IM&T department to ensure data flows are more automated.

What would make the biggest difference to the FM sector? And how can that be achieved?
Within waste management, the biggest difference I would like to see is companies taking more ownership and responsibility of reducing the production of waste materials in the first place. We need to move more towards the circular economy which will involve substantial changes to the culture, principles and practice of the current waste and resources sector which should at the same time bring new challenges and opportunities.

What advice would you give to young people coming into the profession now?
This is a really exciting and challenging sector to be involved within. For me there is lots to learn on a daily basis, it is fast paced and rewarding as well. Not only are we providing essential services to businesses but at the same time we are doing our bit to protect the environment.

Who’s your mentor (either in FM or outside) and why?
Max Kanda – because of his experience and knowledge not only within the industry but as a whole, his support and leadership has been invaluable to me and will help me achieve my career aspirations.

How would you describe what you do to a stranger at a dinner party?
Dustbin lady lol. No, seriously I would describe what I do as management of business continuity and a protector of the environment. Without the services we provide being delivered on time, it can seriously effect businesses functioning.

What qualities should a good FM possess?
I think it starts with understanding customer requirements, then providing innovative, sustainable and cost effective solutions to deliver these requirements. Flexibility is a key word we use at UKWSL and the ability to adapt and provide excellence in customer services. Meaningful management data is also at the forefront of expectations nowadays, but more than that analysis of this data and improvements and recommendations on the back of it.

What are your long term goals for the next 7-10 years?
To be one of the first female directors of UKWSL. I am lucky enough to be with a company that has great growth aspirations and always looks to develop and train their employees and where possible promote from within.

What matters more: challenging/ interesting work, the opportunity to work flexibly by time or location or job security?
Challenging / interesting work definitely is extremely important to me.

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