Five Minutes With… Jackie Carter
We have a sit-down with Building Service Manager, Jackie Carter, about the challenges and highlights of her role at urbanbubble.
Tell us about your role at urbanbubble
I’m the Estate Manager, also known as the Building Service Manager: in essence, dealing with the contractors, phone queries and residents within seven blocks of urbanbubble accommodation. These are based in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, as part of the same complex. Personally I’m in charge of two Building Service Assistants – then I report back to the Senior Property Manager with any issues that may have arisen on their rounds.
There’s a significant amount of liaising involved; I speak to the management team several times a week. The Building Service Assistants will ask us to go in, for instance, to check a leak, and I’ll phone the head office for plumber or electrician. My job is to supervise it all. We maintain sign-in books for each block; when contractors come in for keys or to assess a utility meter, I direct them to the right place and let them in.
How long have you been with urbanbubble?
Four years, roughly, although I’ve been on my site for 15/16 years altogether. I did my first tenure under another property management team, and urbanbubble seem to do much more, in terms of practical work and appreciating their team members.
What’s your background?
Really I’m only 37, so it feels like I’ve been doing this forever, seeing as it was one of my first jobs after leaving school. Family members were already working for my old employer. I started just like they did, cleaning the flats and hallways, before progressing to a managerial role. My family are very proud, since I’m the first amongst them to fill a position such as this.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Well, truth be told, everyone has their rough times – I was off myself for three months this year, but my great relationship with the office staff made it ten times easier. My thoughts were “I can still do anything I want in this organisation, no matter what’s affecting my health!” So the achievement was realising I could come back, with no caveats, and carry on with the same support and emotional incentive.
How are urbanbubble different?
Again, my ex-employer is the only other experience I can draw from, but residents would get fed up with lights being broken, shoddy painting, old carpets…. urbanbubble fixed all of that as soon as they arrived. Looking after the staff is so important; we finally have Christmas parties, and they give us an extra day’s holiday every year we stick with the company!
Our ‘away days’ mix staff from various sites together – without them, we’d very rarely see other employees, who are on their own little islands in Manchester, Bolton, Preston and other places. We can swap suggestions for contractors, as we’ll use the same people who’ve performed well from site to site.
Additionally, I was struck by how well urbanbubble are able to manage these properties. All in all, they take up a whole corner of the Northern Quarter, spread out between two hotels under our estate. That’s a lot of space to oversee, but they seem to make it effortless.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
You never know what could happen inside a building. For instance, I met someone the other day, discussing a supposed leak that was crossing from their flat to a SPAR convenience store. On the surface, though, nothing appeared to be wrong. urbanbubble’s plumber went in and removed the panel of her bath, revealing a tide of pouring water!
So the resident – while not exactly thrilled that her flat was the cause – was happy that the leak had finally be discovered, after many weeks of puzzlement. There turned out to be no sealant on the bathtub whatsoever. You might say I can still be surprised after all this time on the same site…
When you’re not at work, how do you unwind?
Have a beer. Go home to my son – he’s only three, so he better not be getting near the fridge and cracking one open himself! I love taking him to the park and strolling outdoors in the crisp air.