Graduate portrait: Karin Schaad, ISS Facility Services AG
Master's graduates in Facility Management talk about themselves and what they have been doing since their studies
A Senior Business Consultant at a company which offers a wide range of FM Services
«Even after so many years in Facility Management, I am convinced that it is one of the most versatile and interesting professions there are. It will be in demand for as long as there are facilities to manage and people to live and work in them. Keeping up to date with changes in the profession and the work environment will ensure that you as a Facility Manager will always be in demand too!»
Karin Schaad, Senior Business Consultant, ISS Facility Services AG
- 18 Baccalaureate
- 20 Studies for HBL HHF diploma
- 24 Diploma as a Facility Manager (HBL HHF)
- 24 Started work at Universitätsspital Zürich as FM Manager responsible for in-house cleaning
- 28 Promoted to Deputy Head of Cleaning Department
- 30 Project Manager for Logistics at Universitätsspital Zürich
- 44 Office Manager and Course Administrator for ZHAW
- 47 Studies for Master of Science in FM
- 50 MSc in FM
- 50 Election to Member of the Board of EuroFM
- 50 Senior Business Consultant at ISS Facility Services AG
Karin's tasks and activities
- Why did you choose the FM Master's programme at the ZHAW in Switzerland? What were the main factors that influenced your decision?
I did the equivalent of the Bachelor’s programme years ago and worked in FM for a few years before getting married and having children. After a rather long ‘family leave’, I wanted to catch up on developments in the field of FM. A friend recommended the Master’s programme. I liked the fact that it was new at the time and was to be taught in English with international attendees.
- What competences are needed to be successful in Facility Management, in your opinion?
I think you need to be interested in and understand the sometimes complex processes behind the scenes and also to be service-oriented, as your job profile requires you to deal with all kinds stakeholders at different organisational levels.
- How would you explain the profession of Facility Manager?
I would probably follow the EN norm and say that Facility Managers support their company with everything that is not the core business or closely related to it.
However, Facility Management is such a broad and diverse field that almost everyone has the opportunity to find their own niche and work according to their preferences.
- What was your experience of the international Master's programme and working together with students of different nationalities?
Despite the fact that in my class there were big gaps regarding the level of FM knowledge and the understanding of how to collaborate in groups, it was a great experience on many different levels and one I will always be able to fall back on, for example in my role as Practice Network Chair in the FM association EuroFM.
- Which situation during your studies particularly stays in your memory?
I remember several productive and efficient group work meetings in the gardens outside the campus building in summer with fellow students who have become friends over time.
Profession or career after your studies
- Where are you working now? Please describe your company in a few sentences.
I am currently working for ISS in Zurich. ISS Switzerland is the leading facility services company in Switzerland. It has about 12’000 employees and an extensive presence, with 36 branches nationwide including the Principality of Liechtenstein.
ISS focuses on providing Integrated Facility Services (IFS) to preserve the value of buildings, facilities and infrastructure. The range of Integrated Facility Services includes Facility Management, Support Services, Property Services, Security Services, Cleaning Services and Infrastructural Services.
ISS Switzerland is a subsidiary of the global market leader, the ISS Group, with headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark.
As a Senior Business Consultant, I am a member of the Integrated Facility Services Solutions Team, which is part of the Sales and Business Development department.
- What are your current areas of activity and responsibilities?
The team I am part of is responsible for composing Integral Facility Services offers for public and private tenders and strategic customers. This involves a description of the company and the services to be rendered, the future organisational set-up as well as the calculation and pricing.
We usually work on several projects at the same time, with one of the Senior Consultants as the Project Head. Depending on the size and complexity of the prospective mandate, we also involve subject matter experts from other departments.
- What do you particularly like about your job? What motivates you to do this work?
I enjoy working with other people and bringing together all the expertise needed in order to offer an excellent solution for our prospective customers.
Furthermore, since ISS provides a comprehensive range of services in all relevant branches, no two projects are alike. This makes for a highly interesting and varied work day. Also, team spirit in our team is extremely motivating and so is the culture of the whole company.
- What company did you previously work in and what was your position?
Before and during the Master’s course I worked as a research assistant at the Institute of Facility Management and was responsible for all the administration and organisation around the course.
- Routes and detours to where you are now: how did you come to your current job?
After graduating I started working at the University Hospital in Zurich, where I had previously done one of my three internships. For several years I was responsible for all the cleaning activities in my sector, roughly 1/3 of the hospital. When my children came along, I reduced my workload and was able to take over projects in the laundry and the logistics departments of the same hospital.
After taking a long ‘family leave’, I was asked if I would join the administrative staff of the further education section of the IFM as I had an FM background and in-depth knowledge of the course administration program they were using. Two years into the job, one of the lecturers suggested that I should do the MSc in FM to return to the ‘front line’.
After graduating, I decided to try something completely different and applied for the job at ISS that I hold now.
- What knowledge and skills from your studies are you using today in your professional life?
What I find most useful in my current job is the input about sourcing, financial controlling and project management as well as the corresponding terminology. Although the group work we did during the course is by no means really comparable to what we do at the office, the soft skills acquired during that time do come in handy
- In your view what positive influences can FM have or how can it make a difference, for example in your company or in society?
As the providers of all kinds of support processes, Facility Managers and their staff can very positively influence the output of the companies they provide those services for in terms of clean, safe and healthy work environments, efficiency, cost transparency as well as life cycle costs and sustainable management of technical equipment and buildings.
Since for my company FM is the core business, we do our very best to achieve just that for our customers, as well.
- What advice would you give to people studying now?
Doing the Master’s programme is a lot of hard work. However, it is a good way of acquiring a great deal of knowledge in a restricted amount of time.
Sometimes it helps to pick and choose, and set priorities as to what to work on when you cannot possibly fit it all into your busy schedule.
In the group work sessions, distribute the workload and keep to the internal due dates, as this makes life easier for everyone involved. You learn more by doing the work yourself instead of just listening to the lecturer.
Apply formatting and citing rules from the start in order to get used to them and not be tripped up by them when you have to write papers on your own, e.g. your Master’s thesis.
Take time to have fun, do sports and socialise too!
- What do you do in your free time to achieve work-life balance?
I represent the Swiss FM Association FMPro in the EuroFM association as the Chair of the Practice Network Group.
In the remaining time, I like reading, doing sports (dancing, Nordic walking and cross-country skiing) and spending time with my family.
Links to further information and contact details
Über ISS Facility Services AG
Als weltweit führender Anbieter von Facility Services bietet ISS Dienstleistungen auf internationalem Niveau – dies mit fundiertem Know-how und grosser Erfahrung.
ISS - a world of service:
- Facility Management
- Cleaning Services
- Security Services
- Property Services
- Infrastructure Services
- Support Services