Breaking Down Barriers: Female Leadership In The Facility Management Industry

Did you know? October is National Women’s Small Business Month, which means it’s the time to celebrate female-led businesses with advocacy and support. For good reason, too. Women own 42% of the businesses in the US and contribute $1.9 trillion to the economy each year.

As a 100% Woman-Owned Business (Certified WOSB), we think it’s important to recognize the female leadership in an industry predominantly comprised of men. To help women better understand how they can thrive in the facility management industry, we sat down with our leader, Sharla Pottieger, to gather her insight on what it means to break down barriers.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in the facilities industry? 

“While the cultural shift is changing drastically, our female team has faced adversity in a predominantly male-driven industry. My biggest barrier has been overcoming the initial bias in what is a heavily male populated industry. Still, for the most part, if we come across intelligent and organized, we are received well.

As women leaders, we must continue to rise above, stay the course, and find ways to persevere. As stated earlier, the shift is happening, and now more than ever, we need to step up and show we have the medal and moxie to succeed.”

What would be possible in the field if there were more women? What’s the potential if more women were involved? 

“I am a firm believer that so many of our competitors would suit well with more females in operations management roles. Women generally have a better eye for detail, have unmatched human relations skills, and have generally mastered multi-tasking, which bodes well at the customer level. The level of professionalism has a lot of room for improvement, and females can play a vital role in helping the industry raise the bar.”

What kind of support helps you to thrive in your leadership? 

“I am surrounded by very talented, driven team members. Our operations team is currently solely female occupied. I see how our team interacts daily with each other, our vendors, and our clients. Their positivity and drive to be the absolute best is so rewarding and reminds me that we are of importance, and we do have a road to pave in this industry.  

My family is also very supportive, and during those beginning years, when there were many 20 hour days, they always understood it was all going to pay off, and everyone would be better because of the effort. ” 

How can female leaders help to elevate other women in the industry?

“Female Owners and CEO’s need to take a hard look at women trying to enter the workplace for the first time in many years (sometimes decades).  Too often, a resume is all that is looked at and quickly discarded.  I challenge female leaders to look at the person, where they’ve come from, how they have raised their children, and what they have done regarding volunteer work….  There are so many diamonds out there just waiting to be polished.  They simply need a chance.”

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders entering the facility management industry? 

“To have sustained success in business (not just the FM space), there is a price to be paid to get that first break.  Whether you do without material things, work 20 hour days, have no social life….whatever it may be, there is a price for success. Women must remain diligent and strong, as there is no crying in baseball, there is no crying in Facilities Management.  Find like women to support and empower you. Do not take no for an answer;  have a great work ethic and a lot of grace, and you will find the success you have always dreamed of.”