Diversity Woman Magazine

FAL 2017

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/876458

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Page 23 of 79

22 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N Fa l l 2 0 1 7 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m We Mean Business > DW: How has the cleaning industry changed since your grandmother worked as a cleaner, and since you started in the business? IK: e cleaning industry has been, for more than 100 years, getting more sus- tainable, but the second pillar is alterna- tive cleaning, and it will revolutionize the way we clean. We branded our approach "e Internet of Clean," where we can be more proactive in monitoring our cus- tomers' needs. DW: How does that work? IK: All the cleaning operations can be monitored remotely, and for a hotel or res- taurant, this is extremely important. You can look at the machines and smart devic- es on your computer—how much energy are they using? We can help them see, for example, if a dishwasher needs to be fixed, or if room 202 needs more soap, or how long the cleaner stays in the room. If I'm a general manager, I want to know that all my restrooms have enough soap, and that the guest experience will be okay. DW: When you improve technology for the cleaning industry, does that make cleaning easier for the workers—or does it make for fewer workers? IK: Technology is here to make our lives easier, so we can use our brains more than our hands. If you bring in tech- nology, the workers know that you are investing in their job, adding value. It's not just a mop and a bucket. Now you can see one person doing more than one thing—taking care of the guest experi- ence, engaging with the guest different- ly. It raises the bar. DW: Cleaning jobs have a lot of turn- over. How does that affect the industry? IK: It's not a glamorous industry—no one has ever dreamed of being a cleaner, and as soon as a cleaner gets a better job, she or he will leave. But through technology and innovation, you bring more pride to the industry. And while they are cleaning your toilet, they're also saving your life. ere is no life without water—or with- out hygiene and cleaning. DW: Your company's Hygieia Network addresses this issue—but how exactly? IK: Four years ago, I noticed a huge gap in gender and prestige in the cleaning indus- try. I wanted that to change, to give the cleaners access to networking, education, and professional development. Because my grandmother was focused on educat- ing girls, I could not imagine running my business without building something for the cleaners. e network is named for the Greek goddess Hygieia, because we cannot have good health without good hygiene. e members get mentorship and schol- arships. Last year we gave the first scholar- ship, and we have network opportunities. We also have award ceremonies, where we honor the best talent and rising stars— the man of the year, who is usually a woman. We had 50 attendees during year one, then 100 in year two, now 500. I'm so proud that this network is going to build pride and prestige and help employees. DW: What do you look for when you interview? IK: e first thing I look at is the eyes. e mouth is doing the speaking, but I look at the eyes—how passionate they are. How they speak about the person's stories. I say to the youth, I hope they love what they do. en it's about curiosity. At the end of the day, being smart is a commod- ity—you can always find better, smarter people on the IQ side. It's about the other elements—the EQ, the curiosity. Are they willing to learn and learn and relearn? Another is humility. Life will always bring things you don't expect. Perseverance and determination. Even if you fall, step up and do it again. DW: Since you are so focused on clean- ing, are you a tough customer yourself when you stay at a hotel or eat in a restaurant? IK: My husband and son will say that when I am in a hotel or restaurant, I look at it with expert eyes. White is not the same "white" for me! If the whiteness of my towels is not what it should be—and I will look at the plates to see if they are clean, or if they are broken or damaged— sometimes I will complain. DW: What object in your office says the most about you? IK: One is a statue of an African lady with a water pot next to her, to explain my tenure in the Middle East when I was in the water business at Dow. It's a fabu- lous piece of art, but also a reminder of the good years I spent there to do good for the people. Water is the most precious resource on earth. My nickname there was the Water Lady—and that land was blessed with oil, but not with water. DW: What book have you read lately that inspired you? IK: Invisible Power, by Ken Manning. When you are a leader, there is a mo- ment in your career when you have to step back, like you're watching a movie, rather than acting 100 percent, and that's when you can find innovation. In my career, I have learned along the way to be more patient. ere's no need to race ahead of your team: life is a mara- thon, not a 100-meter race. e last four years I have been trying to live more "in- side out." DW Katrina Brown Hunt is a regular contributor to Diversity Woman. One of my first jobs was selling bracelets. On the beach in Morocco, I had my first experiences with customers.

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