The silver lining of a global pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked every industry to its core… and none more so than the aviation industry, which came grinding to a sharp and a dramatic halt.

But four displaced aviation employees have found a new home at Facilities First.

At Facilities First, we see the silver lining in everything. And COVID-19 has been no exception. We have welcomed new talent who we would have otherwise never likely had access to. And for our new team members, they are discovering a whole new world of work for which they are very grateful.

The team taking pictures in front of the site

Transferable skills

While it may seem that cleaning, maintenance and facilities services management don’t have a great deal in common with aviation and airlines, it doesn’t take much to scratch below the surface and see the transferable skills that we share across our industries.

One of our new team additions, Hannah Walton, has spent the last decade as a flight manager for Virgin International, working on long haul flights.

“As a flight manager, a huge part of my job was to get the best out of people – whether that was passengers, crew or pilots. I met new people every day and was used to dealing with different variables that would impact my work. No two days were ever the same. It wasn’t until I started talking to the team at Facilities First that I realised just how transferable my skill set is. As a Client Services Manager, I’m working with different cleaners and different principals across many different sites, as well as mixing with the office staff and corporate support team. My relationship management, adaptability and ability to manage rapidly changing circumstances are skills I use every day.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Mark Nunn, an aviation industry veteran with 29 years of experience under his belt.

“The skills we share are actually quite similar – anticipating customer needs, looking for solutions and adapting, to name a few. I also personally have strong skills in contractor and supplier management, which made me ideally suited to the Account Manager position I am working in at Facilities First.”

The Aircraft Team taking photo from the wing of the plane

New opportunities

When Damien Galea first started as an aircraft refueller nine years ago, he went into a job that was considered a job for life. Until a global pandemic hit.

“In my early days in the industry it was a job that really suited me.

I was working 10 minutes from home and the shift work wasn’t a problem. But when I had kids, the job wasn’t that compatible with family life.

It took a pandemic to push me out of my comfort zone and realise there were other opportunities out there. I was fortunate to secure a Client Services Manager role at Facilities First. I had a trade background as a locksmith, so I put my hat in the ring and I was successful.”

For Mark Meaklim, also a new Client Services Manager in our team, it was a slightly different story. He was in the air when the gravity of the pandemic hit… and he was worried for his future.

“I had been in my role as a Flight Manager for 22 years. It’s a job I really loved. But I very quickly realised that the pandemic was going to be the end of that job for a while. I’m 50 and was left wondering if anyone would want me. Facilities First has given me the opportunity to highlight skills that I had forgotten I even had. I wouldn’t cope very well in a desk job, so being able to get out and about in front of lots of people is a very attractive part of my role.”

Two women holding two canine dogs while talking to a man

Thinking outside the box

At Facilities First, we take a positive outlook on everything… even in a pandemic. And it’s because of our willingness to think outside the box that we have secured such amazing talent for our business.

“Each of these individuals is so unique and they bring so many skills to our business,” says Janelle Dixon, General Manager – People, Communications and Integration.

“It’s amazing to be able to take them on a new journey and learn from their skills and experience. We have an opportunity to capture skills and experience that we might not ordinarily see in our business. If you only open your eyes and look wider, you never know what kind of jewels you will find.”

“Facilities First has taken us on board and has seen it as an opportunity for themselves,” agrees Mark Meaklim. “They have even tweaked their induction programs to give us the technical grounding we need for the roles.”

The field team from their service car

A brighter future

Each of the flight-turned-Facilities-First crew agrees that this is a silver lining in what would have been an otherwise grim situation.

“Given the current climate of the aviation industry, a lot of people are in a very dark place,” explains Mark Nunn. “I feel really grateful to be given the opportunity to see a new industry that I wouldn’t have really had before.”

“There was a resounding feeling of fear in our industry about how we would be able to find new roles,” adds Hannah. “I know what skills I bring to the table, but I also know that there are so many people looking for work at the moment. I was so grateful to have my skills recognised and to be able to showcase them at work in my new role, every day.”

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