Women in FM: 5 mins with… Sarah McLeod

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

I’m regional director for Chequers Contract Services, a business that delivers a variety of cleaning services, grounds maintenance and landscaping projects, so I oversee the delivery of operations for the business. It’s a very varied role, so I never quite know what each day will bring, which is one of the things I enjoy most about it.

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

I stumbled into FM. I graduated with a degree in Spanish from the University of St Andrews so it wasn’t a natural connection but I was never sure what I wanted to do. When it came time for me to leave university, I applied for a number of graduate schemes in London and was accepted on to the Mitie one – the rest is history! I spent five years at Mitie and had a great experience working in different areas of the business. That let me see the huge variety of opportunities and roles available in the FM sector.

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

There are lots of things about my role and the industry that I really enjoy which I’ve mentioned already – it’s extremely varied, each day brings a new challenge and there’s a huge amount of opportunity out there. That said, my favourite thing would have to be the people; I’ve always been lucky enough to work with fantastic teams. We’re a people industry and that’s what makes my role the most enjoyable. I love meeting new people and working with them to deliver a good service, or create a success story, in what is almost always a very challenging environment.

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

That there aren’t more women in FM! There are lots of women working in the FM sector but I’d love to see more progress to management roles. I see the value that having a mix of people within a team brings – not just in relation to a gender balance but a mix of different backgrounds and experiences – and I think that’s invaluable. I work with a lot of women who have a huge amount of potential and will always try and encourage them to take that next step in their career within FM.

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

After the last 18 months we’re all a bit more aware of how quickly things can change and the impact of the pandemic will continue to be felt over the next year at least. We are lucky that the FM world provides essential services to a wide variety of businesses, so we will continue to be needed by our customers. We will focus on improvement and innovation, using technology to improve productivity and Management Information, all while operating in a very different world to the pre-pandemic one we were all used to.

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