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Hi, my name is Greg Lindley, and I am Q3’s Account Manager at the Alhambra Centre in Barnsley. The Alhambra is a bustling shopping centre right in the heart of the town. It’s a full-on job managing the facility and keeping it safe and welcoming for all the shoppers who come through the doors, seven days a week.
I joined the facilities team here in 2014, from university. I had been studying Criminology and Psychology with a view to taking this qualification into the Police service. However, the prospect of a further five years of postgraduate learning made me reassess my career options and the idea of immersing myself in something like FM and working my way up, had more appeal.
I had already been working part-time at the Alhambra as a student and was familiar with the set up and the team. Aaron Powell, Alhambra’s Health & Safety Manager was running the cleaning operation at that time, and he really helped my development in what was my first full-time job. I cut my teeth as supervisor on that cleaning team.
In April 2018, Q3 successfully won the cleaning contract at the Alhambra, and we transferred over from the previous FM incumbent. We’ve subsequently expanded the contract to include security, taking the team to around twenty on site. The Q3 directors have been really hands on and supportive since they came on board, allowing me the opportunity to develop my career and in May last year I was offered the role of Account Manager for the cleaning operation.
There’s always been a good relationship with the client at the Alhambra and I feel comfortable that I can go to them to discuss new ideas or any operational problems, knowing that they will listen. Having never been a manager before, Dave Probyn the Centre Manager and Aaron Powell have stepped up and supported me during some challenging times, particularly during the last two years with lockdown and Covid.
We have to carry out our work around the public, and their safety is of the utmost importance. There’s a big difference between delivering FM in an office and FM in a retail environment and during lockdown, when essential shops had to stay open, this difference was emphasised. With Covid, the focus of our cleaning activities shifted to cleaning and sanitising hand-touch points, and toilet cleaning schedules were revised so that we were cleaning virtually on demand. We rolled out sanitiser dispensers at entrances and introduced social distancing tape and signage. Lockdown also created an opportunity. With fewer shops open and reduced footfall, we were able to divert our resources to activities we would not have the chance to tackle under normal circumstances. So, we did deep-cleans and attended to areas such as high-level glass balustrades. I took the opportunity to go through IPAF training, enabling me to use the cherry picker for this kind of work.
One thing I like about my role is the ability to bring about change. For example, the cleaning team was set up historically so that individuals had a set job and repeated the same tasks every day. This was a recipe for boredom, so I alternated the rotas and mixed things up to give people different roles and responsibilities which has generated new interest and kept people motivated.
It’s been a great learning experience too. A challenge I had to face was learning the QHSE side of the job in preparation for an ISO accreditation audit. Q3 put me through my IOSH training and that gave me a better understanding of this and gave me the skills I needed to tackle the site pack which later helped me pass the ISO audit.
Covid has had an impact on visitors to the Centre, and it will be interesting to see how the retail sector will now recover. Fortunately, business has been picking up again recently and Christmas was particularly busy like old times! Then recently, just when we were getting comfortable, a local bus strike occurred which threw all our plans into chaos. Apart from reducing visitor numbers, it prevented many of our team from getting to work, so on occasions I have had to become a part-time taxi service to maintain staffing levels and operational delivery.
I live local to Barnsley and when I’m not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family and learning the guitar. My mum’s side of the family is from Serbia, so with restrictions on international travel starting to relax, I am planning a trip to Serbia to meet up with my grandmother and that side of the family, who we haven’t seen for over fifteen years.
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