1000 days ago
Emma Longmate relishes making the ordinary extraordinary. As Sodexo’s contract director for seven schools run as part of a private finance initiative (PFI) she’s always looking for ways to exceed her clients’ expectations.
Tell us a bit about your career Emma.
I didn’t expect facilities management to be my career path! After graduating from university, I took a temporary job manning the phones as a helpdesk operator on the corporate facilities management desk for Atkins Asset Management which Sodexo acquired in 2011.The intention was to work for a few months over the summer, save some money and go back to my studies and go into teaching. But Atkins (and then later Sodexo) managed to keep me engaged with constant challenges and opportunities for progression. Eight years and a lot of hard work later, I am now proud to be contract director responsible for seven PFI schools.
What’s your day-to-day role?
I’m in charge of four Merton Council secondary schools, an academy and primary in Swanscombe, Kent, plus Lammas Secondary School in Leyton, London. We provide hard and soft services at each. It’s my job to ensure contract and statutory compliance across the schools, deliver against the financial budgets and ensure my teams stay motivated and engaged.
What makes it interesting?
Well, no two days are ever the same. This is probably one of the main reasons I love my job because of the variety of challenges myself and the team are faced with every day.
How do you and the teams help delivery quality of life for the pupils?
Each school has its own dedicated team fulfilling a wide range of responsibilities.
The catering teams provide the tasty and nutritional meals for staff and children to encourage good learning; the cleaning units and waste management teams are tasked with ensuring a clean and safe environment; while maintenance teams take care of all the various aspects of the school's grounds so they look great and are fully operational all the time.
What are the particular demands of a schools contract?
A large part of the team’s role is to work almost unnoticed behind the scenes and take away all the hassle and stress from the head teachers to allow them and their staff to concentrate on teaching and learning.
What do you find most rewarding?
Seeing my teams achieve their potential and receiving the recognition they deserve for the important work they do every day. I think one of our day janitors summed it up very well recently when speaking to me about how he feels he impacts the school – ‘We make the ordinary extraordinary'.”
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