Facilities management: career options beyond imagination

Published on : 6/25/21
  • When I was young, I decided to become an engineer just like my dad. So, back in Chile, I began my professional career as an engineer at a mining site. I worked for this mining company for 10 years and moved on to work in a variety of roles across HR, IT and technology. I really enjoyed my time there and was blessed with the opportunity to move to Australia almost nine years ago.

    Sodexo was a provider to the mining company I was working for; this is how I learned about Sodexo and connected with some of Sodexo’s employees. I then found out about an opportunity in Perth, as part of the mobilization and support team for a large mining contract there. I felt this would be an exciting opportunity for me to learn about a different industry, bringing my mining knowledge and experience. Though I had a good understanding of Sodexo as a service provider, at the time, I didn’t know much about Sodexo’s values and culture.

    Bringing my whole self to work

    Paz AvalosGoing to the interview, I was a bit nervous, wondering how open I could be about ‘my whole self’ and if I would be accepted by the organization as a gay woman. During the interview, I was asked about my hobbies, so I decided to share how much I loved spending time with my family and our then 4-month old baby girl. The interviewers then commented that I didn’t look like I just had a baby only 4 months ago.  This made me smile. I then replied that I was happy they couldn’t tell about the lack of sleep!! and explained that my partner had carried our baby.

    The reaction for the interviewers was priceless! They expressed such genuine joy for me and congratulated me.  There were no awkward questions – and they made me feel accepted. The best part was that the interview was successful, and I got the job!

    This acceptance was very important to me and really made a difference in how I thought about myself in the professional sphere.  I’ve since decided to talk more openly about my personal life because I know that in many countries around the world, it is still very different, and acceptance cannot be taken for granted. Today, I’m part of the Global Pride Network at Sodexo, and I like to support people who are going through transitions in their lives or who have challenges with being who they are.

    I love how diverse Sodexo is as an organization, the commitment to diversity and inclusion and the way people are empowered to bring their whole self to work. I hadn’t experienced this ethos before joining Sodexo, for me it’s a key differentiator and I’m proud to be part of this company.

    Career opportunities in facilities management

    When I joined Sodexo, I was keen to explore different career opportunities and be closer to the operational side of the business. I expressed that interest during the interview process. I joined Sodexo as HR and transformation manager for the integrated facilities management project. It was a job that I loved and, after 2 years, I had the opportunity to move on to a different role that offered me the opportunity to gain a much closer understanding of the business, operations and service delivery.  I was able to gain a deep appreciation for the work our teams do every day.  I really enjoyed this experience.

    Following from this role, I was offered the opportunity to join the Operational team working in a large contract in South Australia. This experience was a privilege and allowed me to work closely with experienced village managers and maintenance teams who were focused on the daily delivery of services to the client and remote-sites residents. My current role is similar in nature, but much broader in scope and in a different State! I currently work with Operational teams across 6 sites in the Bowen region, State of Queensland.  It is an exciting – though challenging time. Working safely continues to be a key value as well as working as a team, engaging, and leaning from with one another. These values are a compass to help us deliver in all our commercial and growth commitments.

    Find out more about my role and the people who inspire me each day in this video:

     

    An infinite range of career pathways in FM

    As student, I had a broad understanding of facilities management (FM) as an industry, but I had no idea of the opportunities and the value that FM represents in the market. For me, it was a missed opportunity because I could’ve started in this career a lot earlier than I did.

    FM is an exciting industry, there’s a great opportunity in every sense. A lot to learn, a lot to do and a broad range of career opportunities. Career and development options endless, beyond imagination!

    My advice for a person looking at different career options and considering FM, is to take the time to research the industry and to learn about the companies delivering FM services. Pay attention at what each company does, what is their culture, how they operate. Most importantly, talk to managers and experienced people who work in FM roles. I’ve found mentorships have been helpful throughout my career.

    For a career in operations, remaining humble, real and with both feet on the ground will always be of great help. You’ll need humility to recognize what you don’t know or are not good at, to learn, to ask questions, to ask for guidance. Humility will also help you not to get too far ahead with your own ideas and allow you to stop to listen.  FM is about people - helping your team succeed, helping your clients and your organization achieve their goals. It’s a balance.  An open mindset and the ability to influence others positively thought understanding, listening, and enabling them to succeed will be key.

    My current team in the Greater Australia portfolio is quite gender balanced. FM is a great career option for both men and women. Having balanced teams does help in better decision making. This is a people business so it’s essential our teams reflect the demographic of our clients, suppliers and – more broadly, the demographics of the world around us.