Celebrating International Women’s Day

INCLEAN speaks to four successful female leaders in the cleaning industry about what can be done to help forge a more gender-balanced world.

Ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March, INCLEAN speaks to four successful female leaders in the cleaning industry about the experiences that have shaped their careers and what can be done to help forge a more gender-balanced world.

Lisa Michalson – Director of Cleanstar  

Q: How can women support other women?

The cleaning industry is quite male focused, so I think it’s important for women in the industry to not only support each other but be nice to each other. I think some people can be threatened by strong women and as a woman, you don’t need to be aggressive to be heard or respected.

I don’t think women receive enough recognition in this industry. Over the years we started to see more women coming in but now this has dropped off. I would like to see a change.

 Q: What’s the biggest challenge you face in your current role?

Juggling all facets of life including family, household, health, exercise, friendships and business.

I find that people are becoming more demanding in business, making it all about the dollar. With all of this going on, I find my challenge to is try not to let other people’s issues affect me and my staff and the running of the business.

I always try my best to deal with issues as level headed as possible, as I myself can get a bit fiery sometimes! As an owner of a business, I need to watch my own behaviour, make sure I don’t get angry or negative as this is contagious.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the industry?

I think the biggest challenge facing the cleaning industry is that it has become a ‘throw away’ industry and instead of fixing cleaning machines, they are being disposed of.

First of all this is terrible for the environment but it also effects the trade of repairers and the repair industry.

We know that Australia is lacking tradies in general and I think that there should be a push to encourage a trade of appliance and cleaning machinery repairs.

This would be fantastic to encourage women to join this trade.

 Q: What advice do you share with young women entering this profession?

I would say (and always have said) just be yourself. Have a vision of what you want to achieve, be a team player, work hard and smart and be good to the people around you.

In the cleaning industry, women may get some cheek from some of the males who think it’s normal to talk down to or intimidate women, but you have to learn to stand up to them and not be afraid.

Even though they may know more about certain things in the industry than you, that’s okay. It’s always a learning process and keep you head high and be yourself.

Q: Who inspires or has been a mentor to you?

I admire my husband Garth (with whom I run the business with) who has given me the freedom to be myself and guided me when I need it. I have always felt supported by him in business and in my personal life. I feel an equal to him in the business. I know this is often an issue with women who have businesses with their partners, who feel overshadowed by them, but I never have. We succeed or fail together.

My mother who was also a business owner. Growing up, I learnt about hard work and the priority of keeping your family together and happy.

An external role model for me is Nelson Mandela. He fought for his cause and didn’t stop. He endured so much with so much grace. The likes never to be seen again. His wife also fought alongside him, enduring much persecution. Very inspirational for me.

Q: What is your mantra?

Be yourself and be nice. Simple.

Q: What do you think will be the biggest trend in the industry this year?

Battery powered cleaning machine technology is the biggest trend. Battery technology is always advancing due to a greater demand for products that offer cordless convenience. Battery technology isn’t as strong as powered technology, but it will get there.

Q: Where would we find you on a Saturday morning?

Either sleeping in or working out at a personal training session. I then spend the rest of the day with my two daughters. I make sure that Saturday is devoted to my lovely girls.


Nora Potter

Nora Potter – Managing Director of Greenspeed Australia

Q: How can women support other women?

Traditionally the cleaning industry has been a male dominated industry. I am seeing this change with more women taking on senior roles. It would be great to have more female mentors.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you face in your current role?

Had this question been asked of me as early as 10 years ago I would have said being taken seriously as an expert in a male dominated industry. I’m pleased to say this has and is changing.

Today I would say the rapid growth of Greenspeed Australia, juggling all the travel plans to support my distribution partners across Australia and New Zealand, and spending precious time at home with the family are the biggest challenges.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the industry?

 Where do I start?

  • The health impact of cleaning chemicals: this isn’t taken seriously enough
  • Green washing: people made to believe that green chemicals are safer than traditional chemicals
  • Price war and budget constraints which affects cleaning outcomes
  • Cleaning staff who are under constant pressure to perform but are not supplied with the correct tools to achieve results
  • Lack of resources to train cleaning staff.

Q: What advice do you share with young women entering this profession?

Embrace the challenges. It is an exciting industry with lots of possibilities for positive change. If you believe you can make an impact on people’s lives, then fight for what you believe in.

Q: Who inspires or has been a mentor to you?

I’ve been blessed to have so many mentors and inspirational people in my life. My father (a chemical manufacturer) mentored me from an early age in the business, introducing me to the cleaning industry more than 30 years ago. My mother encouraged me to always be strong and believed in me. She always said I could do anything I put my mind to.

My most recent mentors have been my international partners. I have been so fortunate to have Melissa McMahon (VP strategic accounts and Standardisation- Tersano), Steve Hengsperger (President of Tersano) and Michel De Bruin (CEO Greenspeed International) in my life.

If anyone understands the challenges in our chemical riddled industry, it’s Melissa and Steve. I’ve seen what they have achieved globally and am inspired by that.

Steve is a true innovator. Even though he has a busy schedule he always makes time to provide advice. I am inspired by his vision for safer cleaning for people and the planet. I have witnessed first-hand the respect Michel has earned from the next generation of industry leaders. Michel is a true mentor with a mission to lift the image of the cleaning industry and give the youth an opportunity to grow.

And finally, and most importantly my husband Ian inspires me through his continual support.

Q: What is your mantra?

Never give up. Treat everyone with respect. Leave the world a better place than we found it.

Q: What do you think will be the biggest trend in the industry this year?

I am hopeful the biggest trend will be safety in cleaning. If we look after the health and safety of our cleaners, then the environmental benefits will come naturally.

Q: Where would we find you on a Saturday morning?

Saturday mornings you would find me having a coffee at the local café with my husband.


 Jasmine Groves – Managing Director of GJK Indigenous Solutions 

Jasmine Groves

Q: How can women support other women?

Through strong relationships that provide support. The support I’ve received through the amazing relationships I have with stakeholders, like Debbie Barwick CEO, NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce (NSWICC), both in my community and in the Indigenous business sector have helped me to grow my business within its infancy and work with large corporate organisations, as well as state and federal government entities.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you face in your current role?

Some consider me to be inexperienced due to being quite a young business owner, but with the support of my executive team and board of directors it has enabled me to maintain a strong pathway to achieving businesses goals and overcoming hurdles in my way.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the industry?

We are still facing tough times with global CRE’s and FM companies using procurement tools and functions such as glide path savings approaches to cleaning tenders. This is creating a market space of cleaning contractors operating with little to no margins to support ethical standards and practices of being a reputable cleaning company.

Q: What advice do you share with young women entering this profession?

Surround yourself with a strong support network. Being supported will enable you to feel empowered. My great grandfather said he was left with two alternatives; to fight or to give up. He chose to fight so my advice would be to never give up and don’t let any barriers stop you from achieving what you set out to achieve.

Q: Who inspires or has been a mentor to you?

There are two people that inspire me to achieve what I do through business every day. My business partner George Stamas and my husband who has been in the industry for 15 years. Both gentlemen have been the real backbone to supporting me every day and through the challenges I have faced running my business to date.

Q: What is your mantra?

Press snooze you lose. Stop yourself from pressing the snooze button on your goals, count back 5…4…3…2…1 and take the first step to achieving your goals.

Q: What do you think will be the biggest trend in the industry this year?

There is a real trend emerging around sustainable and ethical sourcing of cleaning contractors. Clients want to engage with businesses that they can see have a drive for looking after their staff, have a positive and vibrant relationship and overall can provide a sustainable solutions to their service offering.

Q: Where would we find you on a Saturday morning?

You will find me at my local café with my amazing family enjoying a coffee and catching up on emails!


Kristine Collins – General Manager of SEBO Australia 

Kristine Collins

Q: How can women support other women?

Offering flexible working conditions and hours can help business retain valuable female employees who contribute immensely to business culture and operation.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you face in your current role?

Maintaining a work-life balance. A supportive husband and family, flexible working conditions and hours are of great help. I would like to think I am a good role model for my children.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the industry?

Cheap flimsy products adding to landfill. Consumers are becoming more aware the impact cheap and disposable electrical items have on their ‘back pocket’ as well as the environment. They are choosing to buy energy saving, reliable products built to last.

Q: What advice do you share with young women entering this profession?

Don’t think you have to put off starting a family in order to pursue a career. Companies value family and welcome young women into the profession. Gender diversity is good for business and the economy. Greater diversity delivers an enriched decision making process. Enriched decision making drives economic growth for our nation.

Q: Who inspires or has been a mentor to you?

Both of my parents have been equally instrumental in my development as a professional in this industry. Maintaining a sustainable and ethical business is important and I have a responsibility to my staff, customers, family and society to do so. I believe offering a premium service and staying true to our business principles has contributed to our success and longevity.

Q: What is your mantra?

It’s important to keep the main thing, the main thing.

Q: What do you think will be the biggest trend in the industry this year?

Traditionally many companies follow ‘lowest bidder’ practices where price is critical criterion. Companies are now realising that careful concentration of purchases, together with long term buyer-supplier relationship, will reduce costs and improve profits.

Q: Where would we find you on a Saturday morning? 

Soccer, soccer and soccer. I grew up loving outdoor sports and my children have fallen in love with a great game that both my husband and I enjoy. Perhaps we may see one of them playing for the Matildas or Socceroos one day!

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One thought on “Celebrating International Women’s Day

  1. A terrific testament to ‘women in cleaning and hygiene’ as well as a very positive reflection of an industry that is capitalising on their undoubted professionalism.

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