International Women’s Day – Gaynor Powell
With the theme for this year’s International Women’s Week being ‘Women In Leadership’ it has provided us with an ideal opportunity to feature the success of our ‘very own’ Gaynor Powell who heads up the Company’s extensive HR function and has been a we clean Board Member since 2016!
Gaynor has been an integral part of we clean since its inception back in 2003 where she contributed greatly in laying the foundations for the Company’s successful development over the past 18 years.
As an ever-present constant throughout this period of growth Gaynor has seen we clean develop from a business with a handful of employees to one that now employs over 500 Management, Administrative and Front Line Cleaning staff servicing over 200 key client accounts.
During her time with the Company, Gaynor has developed her professional career successfully completing several CIPD qualifications which has assisted her greatly in managing a very demanding HR function but one that offers an immense amount of job satisfaction.
In 2015 we clean established a formal board of Directors consisting of David Harker / Paul Concannon Directors and owner managers of the business together with Steve Rawlings and Tim Byng Directors of the Specialist Cleaning Division supported by Keith Dixon as Non-Executive Director.
Gaynor was quickly appointed to the Board in early 2016 to assist with the Strategic Direction of the business as it went about building the we clean brand and establishing itself as the premier provider of Commercial Cleaning Services within the Birmingham and wider Midland’s area.
Gaynor is a positive flag bearer not only for all of the women currently working within our organisation but for the many women working in industry and commerce highlighting how through hard work, resilience and having a genuine passion for her role, she has become a real leader and role model within the we clean team!
We sat down with Gaynor for an in-depth discussion on her career to date, women within the workplace and several other topics:
So Gaynor, tell us about your journey with we clean? How did you join the organisation and what are your memories from the ‘early years’?
I have had a friendship with Directors Paul, David, Steve and Tim for over 23 years. I worked with them previously at ‘We Are Cleaning’ a large Regional Cleaning business that was bought out by a Multinational Facilities Management company in 2002.
Our business we clean was created from scratch and the Directors were keen to map out a clear career path for me with the opportunity to complete various individual training courses with the highlight being the completion of my Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Diploma in 2011 where we clean gave me the necessary flexibility and support to complete the course over a four year period whilst also raising two young children at the time.
What does it mean to be a female Board Member and be involved in the strategic and tactical plans that will guide the company moving forward?
I am very proud to be a member of the Board, I am involved in the decisions that drive the Company forward by reviewing the past performance of the organization, learning from those experiences and then engaging strategic plans of action to provide ongoing support of the organization through its various stages of growth.
Only 20% of Board Seats are made up of women in the UK and so to have a seat and to have my voice heard is extremely important to me and I certainly think our approach to diversity in general is one of the key ‘cornerstones’ that helps create our unique business culture. It is really satisfying to know that I have a genuine say in the future direction of we clean.
What is it about we clean that you feel fosters successful career opportunities for women within the business?
We are very inclusive and promote diversity, we identify talent regardless of gender or race and always look to internally promote individuals from within and provide the relevant training for all employees to further themselves and have lengthy careers with we clean.
It is fantastic to see the likes of Debbie Rhodes, Jane Shields, Maureen Francis, Charlene Bowen and Karen Lord all holding responsible operational positions with the Company. At our Head Office we have Amanda Headland who oversees our entire ISO Accreditation Management System which is critical to the long term sustainability of the business whilst Rachael Peacock is currently completing her CIPS Qualification in Procurement Management.
This wide representation of women illustrates that we as a business genuinely encourage females to develop their careers and grow within we clean and I am very confident that as the organization continues to evolve over the coming years ahead there will be further female representation in our Boardroom!
What have been the main challenges for we clean over the last 12 months throughout the COVID-19 crisis? And what trends do you see emerging within the Industry over the coming years?
The pandemic has been the single most significant global crisis of our generation and inevitably it has had a major impact upon our business operation! The Furlough (Job Retention) Scheme has been a massive help in softening some of the immediate financial pressures presented by the crisis and has ensured that we have remained in a strong position to retain the majority of our staff and avoid as far as possible employee redundancies. We have also been very mindful of the wellbeing of our staff during this period who unfortunately may have found themselves furloughed and we appreciate the mental health effects for our staff being off work and potentially isolated from colleagues and friends and the impact this can have. It certainly has been a challenging time for everyone!
We certainly hope that in line with Government guidelines we start to see people return to work and that offices start to fill up once more, however we are fully aware that the working landscape will look different in the new ‘norm’ where flexibility in peoples working patterns is going to alter the traditional 9 – 5 office environment.
What are your passions outside of the workplace?
I am married and have twins aged 22 with our latest addition being our beloved dog – Doris. I particularly enjoy spending time with my large circle of family and friends and enjoy long walks in the countryside. In addition, I love to travel and experience new cultures and I like many others look forward to getting away on holiday once it is safe to do so!
And lastly… What is it that makes working for we clean so special?
It is not a family business, but it certainly feels like a family business – which is what makes it so special!
You are given the freedom and responsibility to take control of your own role and I feel that this is reflected in the committed work our people carry out here daily.
I have loved my time working within such a ‘can do’ environment over the past 18 years and very much look forward to the future with we clean and playing my part in its continued success!
David Harker Director reflected on Gaynor’s huge contribution to the business when noting:
“Gaynor is first and foremost a wonderful person with tremendous ‘integrity’ who cares passionately about her role within the business. Her professionalism and diligence has delivered critical improvements to the day to day running of our Company operations and her contributions to the main Board has ensured we clean continues to evolve its brand identity”