Navigating Future Success: Exploring Career Pathways in Facilities Management

Embarking on the journey of shaping your career path can be both exhilarating and daunting.

If you’ve ever found yourself navigating the maze of career options, and feeling the frustration of uncertainty, you’re not alone. In an ever-evolving job market, how can you fit in? Perhaps everyone around you has been asking you, “So what’s next for you?” We can help illuminate a path to your future, whether or not you have an answer to that question.

Education sector facilities management

Who are we?   

Here’s our elevator pitch: We’re a global facilities services business with over 8,000 customers and 120,000 colleagues across the UK, Europe, APAC and Middle East. Our services include cleaning, catering, pest control, security, hard services, and private and public sector facilities management. Guided by our TRUE Values, we’re on a mission to make people and places the best they can be, becoming the best facilities services business globally.   

But if you’re interested in the longer version, you can learn more about our history, from our humble beginnings in 1900 as a window cleaning company armed with only a ladder, a pail, and a pushcart.   

Now, you might be thinking: “What is facilities management?” Let’s break it down for you. Say you’ve decided to take a day trip to Richmond Park for a bit of fresh air and serenity or you’re live at Etihad Stadium watching Erling Haaland break records for Manchester City; those might seem like two different settings, but we have had a hand in both. We offer a range of services to a diverse customer base to keep their businesses running as best as they can. This can mean diligently trimming hedges at a royal park or providing your favourite footballer with an energy-fuelling meal.   

To summarise, facilities management is all the behind-the-scenes work that makes businesses and infrastructure perform at their optimum.   

Now that you have a picture of the industry and OCS, you might be wondering where you fit in. A lot of important work goes into making people and places their best which means you have many options. Here is what you can do if:   

You are passionate about the environment  

OCS has committed to achieving a net zero carbon target by 2040. With big commitments like this and our vast customer base, you can be part of the efforts to help many organisations improve their energy and environmental practices and make this world a greener place for generations to come. This could see you becoming an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Director, where you forge strategies and policies to make the organisation and our customers’ businesses more sustainable.   

To work your way up to that role you might first study Maths, Chemistry and Physics for A Levels then study Environmental Engineering or a similar university course, after, you might start in our Quality, Health, Safety, and Environment (QHSE) department as an assistant and work your way up within the company. If you’re looking for some inspiration, you can hear from our current ESG Director, Jacky So, on his journey into the role here.  

You have a creative flair   

If you’re a natural-born storyteller, whether you’re a wordsmith blazing through your English essays or you look forward to your art classes where your imaginations come alive when pencil hits paper, OCS has a place for you in our ever-expanding Marketing and Communications department. To join this department, you might take a more traditional path and continue to explore your creative side with A Levels in Media Studies, English and Art, then study anything from Illustration to Creative Writing to a Business Administration and Marketing course at university.   

Or you can take an alternative route and build a portfolio of visual and written work and hone your skills in your chosen area. You can then find yourself working as one of our graphic designers or content writers, helping tell the story of OCS in exciting and compelling ways.  

You love to crunch numbers  

There’s a wide range of career options for you to explore with us if you love numbers. As an accountant or analyst, you can play a crucial role in helping OCS manage its cash flow and evaluate financial performance. You’d start by taking subjects like Maths, Economics and Business Studies at A Levels then go on to study Business or Accounting at university and before you know it, you’d be perched in one of our offices helping us make smart money moves.  

You’re not quite sure university is for you   

If you’re not sure higher education is the path you want to take but still want a fulfilling career, OCS has many pathways for you where you’d care for important spaces, upskill through training and apprenticeships and lead teams to success without needing a degree. For example, you could become one of our invaluable security managers – leading a team of security officers and ensuring safety standards and protocols are met or join our Talent Sourcing team and help build the OCS community.  

These are only a select few routes through which you can join O.C.S. There are still so many other routes you can explore to join the world of Facilities Management, explore our careers page to see what other options might be out there for you. 

Graduating in OCS style

Our mission at OCS is to help people and places to ‘be your best’. 

And, while we usually talk about that in the context of our customers’ businesses, people and places, the notion equally applies to our own people and places, too. 

It’s important as a business for us to support people to develop their careers, achieve more and perform even better, and we constantly strive to offer training and development opportunities to those who want to seize them. 

Recently, two members of OCS – Marketing Business Partner Kirstie Stevens and Operations Manager Sharon Roper – graduated from University Centre Quayside (UCQ) with a BA (Hons) in Professional Management, via the OCS Apprenticeship Scheme. 

In addition to the opportunity to take part in the three-year course, Kirstie and Sharon were given a day’s study leave each week – although the amount of work the course demanded meant it was a rewarding yet all-consuming experience.

“I was new to degrees, although I have taken part in education through work before, and I don’t think I fully realised just how much time I’d have to put into it,” laughs Sharon, who works in OCS’s Healthcare and Education sector.

There was plenty of evening and weekend work, and for three years it was continuous, so we had little opportunity to rest – however, it was brilliant; very rewarding, and now it’s over, I do miss it!

Sharon

OCS’s Healthcare and Education sector

Balancing the day-to-day

The Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship was based on a series of academic assignments, self-reflection, peer and line manager reviews, assessor observations and an end-point assessment, with modules including project management, business finance, sales and marketing, digital business, communication, developing collaborative relationships, decision-making and management – all of which are directly applicable to the day-to-day roles Kirstie and Sharon both undertake.

Over the course of the three years, the pair received the support of their colleagues and teams, which was a crucial component of completing the degree successfully. 

“Everyone was very supportive,” says Kirstie. “I blocked out study time in my diary, and the team was very respectful of that. My colleagues were always on hand if I needed any advice or guidance, and they were really encouraging, making it easier to keep going.”

Putting learnings into action

Through the degree course, Kirstie and Sharon have picked up and developed a wide range of new skills that they’ve been able to quickly put into practice. Some of those learnings have been directly related to the subject matter – others have come from the process of undertaking the degree itself. 

“Like Sharon, this was my first degree, and the project management module was particularly important for me, in terms of developing those skills, while time management and organisation were also valuable because of balancing the demands of work and the course,” says Kirstie. 

Sharon agrees, and found the level of research required to put together regular assignments, and the final, 8000-word dissertation also proved hugely beneficial. 

“I’ve noticed that I automatically research a lot more now,” she says. “I find myself really digging deep into finding out information on how to resolve this problem to then construct a full report for the customer. I don’t know whether I would have investigated something so thoroughly if I hadn’t studied the degree.” 

The lasting benefits of higher education

And the benefits of undertaking the degree will continue to be enjoyed by Kirstie, Sharon and OCS over the months and years to come, as the process has left a lasting impact on the pair. 

My confidence overall has improved in various aspects such as communication, decision-making and stakeholder relationship development, which I think really helps with my role here at OCS.

Kirstie

The pair will be awarded their degrees in a graduation ceremony on 1 December, which will officially mark a fantastic achievement. 

“I’m just super proud of us,” says Kirstie. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have been able to do this, especially with the study time as well.” 

Sharon echoes those sentiments. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity we’ve had, and as much as it has been blood, sweat and tears, I’ve loved every minute of it. 

“UCQ have been great as well – they’ve been very supportive and are always there when you need them, and the course content really fits in with the work we do here.”