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Women in FM: 5 mins with… Kat Hart

What is your role at Churchill and what does it involve day to day?

My role is accounts director for Savills, the real estate services provider, for which we supply both security and housekeeping services. I’m ultimately responsible for the relationship with the client and the delivery of our services. My day-to-day role is very varied and involves visiting sites stretching from Exeter to Newcastle, and time spent working on projects and new developments for the wider account. I work closely with both our operations teams and the client’s senior management teams to ensure our service evolves with the needs of the account.

How did you find your way into FM? (Tell us a bit about your background)

I came into FM by accident. My background is in the adventure travel industry – I worked overseas as a consultant operations and logistics manager in countries that were just opening up to tourism, including Mali, Togo, Eritrea, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan and the Congo.  My job was to gather local contacts and piece together the logistics of offering a travel itinerary and then lead the first client trips to that destination. The element of the role I loved most – apart from the incredible opportunity to travel – was the dynamic risk assessment needed before paying clients could tour these countries, safely and enjoy a great experience. This was a great fit for the security industry so, when full time, seat-of-my-pants travelling wasn’t what I was looking for any more, I retrained in close protection. I worked on the close protection circuit for a number of years, heading up security arrangements for private clients and moved into security consultancy roles for luxury brands. For the last two years I was security lead for ZSL London Zoo. Two months ago I took on my new role of account director.

What is your favourite thing about your job/the industry?

The dynamic, ever-changing aspect of it, and the fact that that it’s entirely people based. These are also. without doubt, its biggest challenges!

As a woman in FM, what are your biggest frustrations?

As I came into the FM industry from a pure security background, which is very much a male-dominated sphere – especially the close protection sector. I now work with an exceptional and predominantly female team, who all have extensive security industry experience, so I can’t say I have any frustrations.

What are your key predictions for/the biggest issues facing the FM market over the next year?

Covid-19 has put the industry into sharp focus and cost/value is more important than ever.

In security, there is a focus on multi-skilled operatives where risk is deemed low; but where risk is deemed high there is increasing investment in security solutions rather than pure people services – using a spend-to-save model. And “Protect Duty”  – government proposals to impose a legal obligation on organisations to consider the safety and security of their staff and the public who use their facilities – is very much on the horizon. In cleaning, the focus is on safe and hygienic workplaces, rather than what looks clean, and scientific data is increasingly being used to ensure this.