|Facilities Management Careers Aren't Always Just for Engineers
By Trish Freshwater, Senior Communications Manager
Sodexo has been an active provider of Facilities Management (FM) for several decades, leveraging on services traditionally delivered to clients – like foodservice and nutrition. Having everyday contact with these clients gave our teams unique insights into the issues and challenges they faced. Building on a heritage of delivering technical maintenance services, Sodexo today has grown into a supplier of choice for a wide palette of sophisticated Asset Management and Engineering services.
But, you don't always have to be an engineer to enjoy this type of work or be a valuable player on Sodexo's Facilities Management team. Deborah Roberts, Senior Vice President, Facilities, for Sodexo Health Care has a graduate degree in business but spent much of her career learning the FM business before joining Sodexo.
"I started in the health care industry and gained experience in serving hospitals as a pharmaceutical and medical/surgical distributor," explained Roberts. "Then, while working for a company delivering building products and services, I enjoyed an extensive training program where new employees spend months in HVAC equipment training, energy retrofit programs and energy savings programs, and so much more. We spent our time working with hospital CEOs, COOs, CFOs and directors of facilities to ensure the right fit for their building and equipment optimization needs."
Then, Roberts was recruited by a global diversified technology and industrial leader, where she gained both national and international experience managing operations and facilities amid great cultural diversity.
From Texas and Milwaukee to Singapore, working in 13 Asian countries including Shanghai, China, Roberts led facility management and original equipment product businesses. In Asia, she was responsible for more than 3,000 employees and her team in Asia implemented an innovative and highly successful customer engagement program which led to retention, strong employee engagement and growth.
"Over time, I learned that if you are able to bring services in facilities which enhance the capability of your customer, you will grow your partnership, delivering expertise and growth through the services offered," she said.
Growing an FM Career
"Looking back, I always loved trying new areas of business," said Roberts. "In business, much of my success and career advancement hinged on my willingness to try new approaches and develop strategies – even leading teams in areas new to my area of expertise. Meeting and getting to know colleagues, such as other women moving into nontraditional careers, I soon learned that it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman. You make your own choices about how your career progresses."
And, who are the best candidates for facilities management careers?
"Today, a four-year degree is necessary to move into a facility management role and to form partnerships with business leaders. You need to communicate effectively in both the spoken and written word, and to be an effective presenter," explained Roberts. "You can come from virtually any background, although we like to see some technical education or on the job experience. Anyone with the inclination and eagerness to learn can move into this area. There are classes on this business and even degrees in facility management. There are many avenues to get here."
Coming to Sodexo, Embracing Diversity
For much of Roberts' career, she was one of very few women on leadership teams managing the technical side of various businesses.
"For many companies around the globe, the majority of employees in technical careers are men," explained Roberts. "Sodexo was a compelling company to me. I wanted to be in an environment where diversity was real. It's invigorating to be in work groups with groups of people with different ways of thinking about the business, our customers and our clients. Many former colleagues, true leaders with high levels of business integrity, have chosen to work here at Sodexo."
So, when an opportunity presented itself for Roberts to join Sodexo, it was everything she wanted.
"Since joining Sodexo, I've been able to embrace and live diversity in the workplace. Sodexo leads in the marketplace through diversity," she said. "When I have positions to fill, I know that the net is cast widely to ensure we reach a diverse pool of talent. When you have teams that are diverse, you increase the potential for innovative ideas and approaches. At the same time, you can be more successful with both employee and customer engagement, and growth. Facilities Management is a great career, and it is exciting to see that it is attracting a range of diverse talent, including women."
Interested in an FM career with Sodexo? Look for more stories like Roberts and details about possible careers at www.SodexoFacilitiesJobs.com.