Melanie has been leading this Malvern-based business since its inception, motivated by a change in her husband’s health, and a desire to deliver for her clients.
What is it the company does?
Based in Malvern, Melton Support Services is a specialist in commercial facilities management, support services, contract cleaning, waste management and workwear laundry. We have particular expertise within the healthcare and education sectors but also have a growing client base in the social care, retail and manufacturing industries.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
When I ask my staff what they think my role is they say being ‘the boss’. I’d say that my role is all about setting our strategy, empowering staff to deliver it, and above all else, making sure we deliver for our clients.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I left school at 16 and didn’t know what I wanted to do so accepted a job as an office junior as one of Margaret Thatcher’s YTS youngsters, earning £25 per week. The problem is I learn quickly and got bored quickly. Later on I worked my way up to Account Director for a major marketing and advertising agency but I always knew I wanted something more and to be in control of my own destiny. My husband became ill and I had to make changes so I bit the bullet and started my own company.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
You need to have the vision, enthusiasm and confidence to drive the company and your team forward. If you don’t then how can you expect your them to understand or feel confident in what you are doing? The company is its people and including them in your vision simply empowers them. Seeing that work in practice is a great feeling for us all and within the business, enthusiasm has become infectious. I have a great team and always strive to be the leader they deserve.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Letting go. I started the company from scratch so I have done jobs which now others do. It is really tempting to want to know everything and interfere. I constantly remind myself that I employ everyone to do a job and they need to be able to do their jobs without me interfering. Not everyone takes the journey to an objective in the same way and as long as the outcome is right how they got there, even if it includes mistakes, should be acceptable. I try not to be irritated if they did it a different way.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I try to compartmentalise things - work is work and home is home. I don’t take work home and instead I stay on at the office. I also keep a diary which includes everything from meetings to hair appointments and lunch with my husband. I find the diary helps me plan my time and enables me to put in ‘down time’. I also make realistic lists of everything from ideas and aspirations for this year and for over the next 10 years. I then put everything else to one side, helping me to focus.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was always very driven. I can’t remember ever really being set on something but I do remember being fascinated by money. I had a shop with pretend goods my granny bought me and I used to sell things to anyone who came to the house. My granny was a self-made businesswoman and I think really she was my biggest influence. I wanted to be like her. I can remember when they announced at school that Margaret Thatcher was the first female prime minister and thinking if a woman can be prime minister I can be anything I want.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I am in before everyone in the morning and hate walking into a messy kitchen. I used to moan about it but if the first thing your staff hear in a morning is how fed up you are - it kind of puts a dampener on their day so I clean it myself. I bring in an external expert to undertake staff appraisals each year, this enables the staff to talk openly and honestly about their issues and concerns. As part of this I feed in what my concerns are - last year my only major comment was ‘if you really want to tick me off, leave the kitchen in a state!’
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I see us as being the leading provider of facilities management and contract cleaning to the healthcare and education sectors. I love these sectors as do the staff as we can offer so much and it is really satisfying learning the issues and designing solutions. The people are also lovely.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Get a really good accountant who will act as your ‘go to person’. Don’t just find one who does your accounts, find one who wants to understand and get under the skin of your business. Also, remember it’s not just you, it’s all of you, your staff have ideas and they should be valued.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Its not easy and you will never be so tired in your entire life! You start out worrying about your mortgage and then as you employ staff you start to worry about their mortgages. I think that’s very true, especially if you are passionate about your team.
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement