CMC Property Services’ group managing director Elly Krommidas has enjoyed more than 15 years building a successful career in Australia’s cleaning industry. And while it began unintentionally, Elly has never looked back. She spoke to INCLEAN assistant editor Lizzie Hunter about the changes she believes are currently being felt in the industry and what she loves most about working in this sector.
After graduating from university with a Bachelor of Arts and Social Sciences, Elly Krommidas’ intentions to pursue a career in the Australian legal sector were soon put on hold when the small cleaning company she worked for on a part-time basis asked her to fix its call centre infrastructure.
“Setting up the infrastructure for the company’s national call centre from scratch was one of the very first projects I worked on. Back then, the idea of professional system integration was relatively new in the cleaning industry and was considered quite progressive.”
It was her involvement with this project that led to Elly being head hunted by CMC Property Services’ CEO Paul McCann back in 2004.
“Paul contacted me to see if I wanted to come in for a chat which was quite flattering at the time,” Elly admits. “From there, I didn’t look back. I became engrained within the cleaning industry and heavily involved with setting up and integrating systems within the business.”
As CMC Property Services grew, so did Elly, saying yes to every opportunity that allowed her to step up, take on more responsibility and expand her skills and offering – “I always did have a passion for running the business,” she adds.
Elly believes that Australia’s cleaning industry has always been very male-dominated, due to it being a more ‘traditional’ industry than others. However, she says this is changing.
“I think we’re seeing a change with more women working in senior roles within the industry due to more flexible workplaces offering women – including working mothers – a career path and the opportunity to add value to an organisation.
“And the women in the leadership roles are then giving other women the opportunity to show how they can add value to our industry.”
Elly estimates the shift towards having more women in the cleaning industry, while quite slow, has taken place over the last five years.
“I think competency could also be driving this change. I’m a huge believer in hiring the right person for the job, regardless of whether you are male or female. For me, it comes down to whether you’re competent, driven and can confidently hold in an executive or senior role.”
Australia’s cleaning industry also faces many challenges, according to Elly, such as changes in consumer buying habits, costs associated with compliance and reporting, and competitors offering unreasonable prices for cleaning services.
“One of the industry’s biggest challenges is remaining reputable and professional. The profile of our industry sector is always clouded by companies doing the wrong thing which then gives us all a bad name.
“The cost of compliance and reporting is also undervalued as clients become more sophisticated. Clients now want more compliance to mitigate their risk, but that’s not taken into consideration in terms of the true cost to the cleaning company.”
Elly believes the support of the Building Service Contractors Association of Australia (BSCAA) is crucial when addressing these challenges, as well ensuring strong levels of communication with clients.
“CMC Property Services also holds an education forum twice a year for our clients and other facility managers which addresses the challenges cleaning contractors face when securing contracts. The forums serve to bring more awareness and understanding to the problems our industry faces.”
Despite all the challenges associated with commercial cleaning, the pros far outweigh the cons for Elly, who says that the success stories of cleaners in the industry are what she loves most.
“The fact that we as a commercial business can positively influence peoples’ lives by investing in their careers and offering them better opportunities is so rewarding,” she said. “We do that a lot through CMC; hiring cleaners and help them transition into higher roles, such as supervisors and client relationship managers.”
From a personal perspective, raising a family while working full-time is one of Elly’s two proudest accomplishments to date – professionally speaking, remaining relevant in a male-dominated industry is the other.
“After working in this industry for so long and still being able to add value and keep people engaged so they can progress in their career is pretty rewarding.”
So what’s next on the agenda for Elly?
“A lot,” she laughs. “The future looks extremely promising. This year I’ll be furthering my professional development via an international educational placement which will equip me with skills to position CMC Property Services in a global context. I’m really excited about that.”
This first appeared in the May/June issue of INCLEAN magazine. To subscribe, click here.