Reception is a great place to start your Facilities career | Macro

Reception is a great place to start your Facilities career

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By Kerry McGowan, Senior Corporate Properties Manager

Kerry McGowan is the Senior Corporate Properties Manager for a large international financial institution.  She started her career within the facilities management (FM) industry in 2008 as a receptionist, for the same organisation she works today but employed supplier-side by Macro. Today, on National Receptionists’ Day, Kerry shares her story of how her career has developed and what it’s taken to rise the FM ranks. 

When I took the job with Macro in 2008 it was the first big reception role I’d undertaken.  Located in the heart of the city, I was part of a team of three people managing a large reception for our client and their tenant, greeting hundreds of guests every day and managing all of the room bookings. 

Less than a year later, Macro extended the contract to take on our client’s US offices. Some of the existing team, who had decided not to TUPE, were moving on and new people were being hired; and our policies and procedures needed to be adapted for the local market, and successfully implemented. I was seconded to Chicago for 10 weeks to take up the challenge.  It was a huge jump, but I was well supported by our teams in London, and although it was hard work, it was an incredible experience. 

After the Chicago secondment, I came back to London and took on a new role as the Facilities Co-ordinator, building on the skills I’d developed during my time in the US.  I was later promoted to Assistant Facilities Manager, responsible for 12 Front of House team members across all of the UK sites. This gave me my first taste of management, which included all aspects of recruitment, managing a restructure and the subsequent redundancies, as well as mobilising new software systems. I also assisted the corporate events team, with important meetings across the business and travelled with them, as required. 

In 2012, the client invited me to work for them directly. In my role as Senior Corporate Properties Manager, I’m responsible for maintaining and developing relationships across all departments on matters relating to property, and monitoring and controlling projects. 

I am very lucky to have a job that I love, that was made possible by my manager seeing my potential back when I was in a front of house role. I was young, confident and enthusiastic, but I was always respectful and got on well with the team. 

Reception is a great place to start your career.  It helps you to get to know the company, and gives you exposure to people of all levels within the organisation. I liaised with the CEO regularly, and that’s not something everyone has the chance to do. People can tell, very quickly, how capable you are; and if you’re competent at what you do, you will build great relationships, gain trust and be front of mind when opportunities arise. 

If I could offer some advice to people working in a front of house role now, it would be to maintain your professionalism at all times, be respectful, and build strong relationships with your team members. When I was interviewed for my current job, the interviewer asked if I thought the transition from supplier to client would be difficult, and how my team might perceive it.  I could confidently say that I had such great relationships with my team, that they would be genuinely pleased for me; and it turned out to be true. 

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