Can you tell us your role and summarize your day-to-day responsibilities?
I am the Facilities Manager for Industrial Light & Magic’s (ILM) Sydney studio. I oversee everything involving the facilities and operations for the studio. That includes maintaining supplies, stationery, and the kitchens, to onboarding new employees, which is a big job at the moment because we’re still a relatively new studio, with a big growth projection. I have a Facilities Coordinator that recently started. Between the two of us, we look after all the basic day-to-day needs, making sure there are snacks in the kitchens and lamps on their desks and anything that assists in ensuring they are comfortable at work.
When I first started, I had to fit out new office spaces and bring them on line very quickly for people to start working. Since then, we’ve built out the space, making it a nice place to work. With the pandemic situation in the last year, we’ve had to implement new policies and procedures to make sure that we’re all safe, including sanitizing workspaces. Now we’re managing logistics and configurations for a post-COVID world. I think there were about 25 to 30 people when the pandemic started. Now there’s 250+ people. We’ve grown significantly. People are working with a new hybrid model, coming into the office two to four days a week. It’s been an extremely busy time, and it has its challenges, but it’s always very exciting and that’s one of the reasons I applied for this job.
It sounds like you have to make many different types of decisions in your role, from the large scale to the small scale.
Yes, it’s an amazing opportunity to be part of something right from the very start and build up all the necessary policies, facilities, desks, and everything that’s required. One thing I love about the company is its team culture. Even though my role is extremely varied and all-consuming to a certain extent, I never feel that I’m on my own. Not only locally with the Sydney team, but globally across all of ILM, everyone’s willing to help out and answer questions. I’ve worked in a global company before, but not for one where everyone’s so collaborative and willing to give their time.
Could you tell us about your background and the path that led you to ILM?
After a couple of years at college to get a Business Administration certificate, I went straight into work. I applied for a copywriting job at The Body Shop, which is a perfume, soap, and toiletry company headquartered in my hometown on the south coast of England. I was offered a job with the founder Dame Anita Roddick as her team assistant and administrator. Over my ten years there, I moved into a personal assistant level with her and she taught me a lot. She was not only the head of a global company, but she did a lot of things for animal and human rights, and that helped shaped my own values about the types of places where I’d like to work.
When Dame Anita Roddick decided to step back and sell The Body Shop to L’Oreal, I thought that would be a great opportunity to pursue my dream of traveling. I came to Australia on a work travel visa and I managed to get a job here as an Executive Assistant for a private financial company. I then managed to get my Permanent Residency to stay in the country, and it’s been 14 years now. I stayed in the financial sector for a few years, then I managed to get a role at a media company, one of the largest in Australia. I started off as the Executive Assistant to four senior executives. After I left to have my son, the company had grown and decided that they needed a facilities and office manager to help put policies and procedures in place. I then returned to the company in that role.
One day I was locked in work and the daily media news came up on the screen, as it did every day. There was a line that said Lucasfilm’s ILM was opening an office in Sydney. I just had to read the article and at the bottom was a link to the job listings. I don’t know why, but I just thought I’d have a look and at the top was a Facilities Manager role. It was one of those opportunities that I just couldn’t pass up, it felt like one of those now or never opportunities. I applied and heard back the next day. After a series of interviews and a matter of days I was being offered the role! I immediately accepted and the next thing I knew, I went straight into fitting out the first office space, getting the builders set up, and jumping straight in. My first two months was a baptism of fire!