Housekeeping, cleaning or facility services, though considered a “common job”, is one of the most challenging among the many challenging jobs, be it for a man or a woman. However, when it comes to women, the perspectives and equations get altered in the market dynamics in which they operate. Facility services, as such, in its manifold bifurcation – from cleaning to IFM – calls for diverse roles in terms of the extent of services offered and the quality. Jyoti Nair, Associate Director-Operation, GSH (India) Pvt. Ltd, who has contributed to facility services in different roles – housekeeping to operations and even entrepreneurship – started her journey in 1985.
An IHM-Chennai graduate, Jyoti Nair’s experience in housekeeping began in the hospitality industry with The Oberoi Grand- Kolkata, followed by Hyatt Regency-Delhi. Taking a break in the 90s was inevitable with two children in tow. This break also kindled the entrepreneur in Jyoti, who ventured to home catering service for bachelors and the elderly. Back into action in 2002, she rose up to become the executive housekeeper of Harsha Park Inn, Bangalore.
The tryst with facility management began with Sodexo, then Sasken, then Atkins and since 2014 at GSH, Karnataka. “At Atkins, which was a new entry in the India market, it was my responsibility to put in place all processes and systems. For close to four years, I managed both technical and soft services.
“I also explored into training given the vast experience in the hospitality industry before joining GSH. Today, I still do take some part-time training, which keeps me up-to-date. Today, as an Associate Director of Operations, Karnataka, I manage key accounts of Flipkart Warehouses and Bosch. The services include Integrated Sustainable Facilities management spanning across the South and Western parts of India.”
What might seem a peaceful journey is never so when it comes to dealing with manpower in the facility services or for that matter any service industry. Today, where the service industry faces a severe crunch of skilled manpower, it is inevitable to stop staff from jump the wall even if it for a few bucks more. “Attrition is a challenge in our industry. It is easy for employees to shift at a moment’s notice, and even harder to find their replacements.”
Another major challenge posing facility services is with clients forcing service providers and vendors to work on reduced margins. It is this reduced margin that has created an imbalance in the facility service industry with very big companies acquiring the smaller ones who are victims of margins. “In the facilities industry, reducing the margins is close to an impossible task given the cost of manpower and materials. It’s like the old saying – you can’t expect quality work with a cheap budget.
“Given the rising cost of manpower and materials, we can only reduce the cost by 5%. Anything above that will involve lower quality of work provided, which is against my policies. Manpower is affected the most if you sign a contract at low margins.”
Good, Bad, Ugly
Subcontracting in large projects is unavoidable. Most IFM companies engage subcontractors but here again there is squeeze on margins. “Good as it leaves the client to focus on their core competencies. Bad as the manpower does not have a sense of belonging and the IFM company ends up being a manpower supplier. Ugly if the IFM company is treated as a manpower supplier and not a company which adds value.
Speaking of her achievements, the awards below spell the successes.
Won the Golden plaque at the Sodexo SMART Conference Nov’2003 as the Best Unit Manager; Qualified as an Internal Lead Quality Auditor at Sasken and Atkins; Successful ERT training in Emergency rescue and first aid; Qualified ISO 14001 Lead Auditor. Certified by BSI; Special Recognition award at the 2010 Bangalore Value Awards at Atkins; Six Sigma Green Belt; 2007-2008 LRQA Integrated Management Systems Internal Auditor; Lead Auditor ISO 14001 2005; and PGcFM from IFMA 2005-2006.
Partner or Vendor
“Some of the software and manufacturing industries like Akamai and Bosch where the IFM company is considered a partner and not a vendor makes all the difference. The staff are taken care of by extending the canteen and rewarded periodically. The CSR activities include giving the children of the employees scholarships. In some companies the waste paper is recycled into notebooks and distributed.”
Being an entrepreneur is hard but being one in this country is possibly harder. Despite of all the hardships it’s has been very rewarding. The backbone of the business is her courageous father who gave her will and determination on the table and “A never give in” attitude. Homework’s real success is attributed more to her father than anyone else.
“I have met so many interesting women in these years and through their inputs and encouragement, I have been able to continually add value to our service delivery. It’s also been such an eye opener to work with and amongst blue collar personnel. There is so much to learn from them every day and it’s wonderful to see so many of them have the desire to learn and grow with us over the years.”