Each month we ask a cleaning industry professional the Tomorrow’s Cleaning 10 Questions. This month, we chatted to Lorraine Thomas, MD of Metzger Search & Selection.
1. What was your first job?
After a very short spell in retail management I started my B2B sales career. My last role was as a Sales Director with Office Depot, before I became involved with Metzger.
2. How did you get into the cleaning industry?
I got a foothold in the cleaning industry through my 20-year professional relationship with Metzger Search & Selection. Before I became a part of the team, I was one of their candidates. Then I became a client, working in an interim role with them. Subsequently I was offered a permanent position in the company. The Metzger team has always had strong ties in the cleaning industry and I was welcomed into the fold. I’ve been fortunate to experience the professional relationship from different angles, as a client and as an employee. It has given me an unusual perspective and advantage to help us grow.
3. Which three words describe your personality?
Not always one to blow my own trumpet, I asked my colleagues this question and they see me as: professional, enthusiastic, and focused. (They also said I had a good sense of humour, which I find reassuring – good humour is essential!)
4. If you could visit one place in the world, where would you go and why?
As I am learning to scuba dive, I’d like to travel to the east coast of Thailand to do my PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) qualification. I’ll be planning that trip soon.
5. How would you improve the cleaning industry? I think the cleaning industry needs a brand makeover. It needs to be projected as a more appealing sector that people aspire to join, rather than just fall into accidentally, which is often the case. This industry has a positive impact on our built environment, making better spaces for people to live and work in. Whether it’s football stadia, shopping centres or historic palaces, there are dedicated, trained professionals who clean all those iconic places. That should be a statement of pride and constitute a priority industry to invest in, with good staff and resources.
6. If an intern were to start tomorrow, what’s the one piece of advice you would give them?
Be prepared to get the broadest experience as possible in a business. It requires being humble, rolling up your sleeves, starting at the bottom and thinking outside of your role. At this stage, it’s an opportunity to understand a company holistically and learn how each department works with the others. It’s the best time to get an overview of how a business operates in its entirety.
7. If you won the lottery tomorrow, how would you spend your fortune?
It goes without saying that I’d secure my family’s future. Then I’d travel extensively, all around the world – no corner too far-flung! I’d also support good causes. Having experienced the loss of a loved one to cancer, I would donate to cancer research and family support.
8. If you could host a dinner party and invite any three people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?Winston Churchill: while not always popular, he made tough decisions when required and was an inspiring figurehead. Nelson Mandela: for his exemplary commitment and passion for making positive change, and his capacity for self-sacrifice. Elizabeth l – because she was a, formidable female role model at a time when women weren’t supposed to be. Between the three of them I think we’d have some lively conversation!
9. What, do you think, is the future of the cleaning industry?
The future I envisage will require continued technological innovation from service providers and investment in upskilling their people. Customer service will be enhanced and depend on staff investment; by doing this you invest in more skills retention, loyalty and just a better standard of performance. The overall return is that the entire industry raises its game and becomes a more desirable source of employment.
Paul Jakeway, Marketing Director at Deb Group UK, asks:
10. “Do you think the role that hygiene and cleanliness plays in safeguarding occupational health is widely understood?”
Yes, to an extent, however better collaboration between clients and customers will help to push the message. As they invest more time and resource in working together the value will become more obvious. Furthermore, employees are happier and more productive in a clean and hygienic environment.