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Management And Training

Get to know... Barbara Brown

September 19, 2010
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After serving her country for five years in the Army and the National Guard, Barbara Brown returned to civilian life with a new outlook on cleaning.

It was in the Army where she learned how to use her first slow-speed buffer with paste wax.

Brown has held the title of housekeeping supervisor at Siena College in Loudonville, NY for 17 years.

She prides herself in doing an outstanding job maintaining the college’s facilities.

Her satisfaction derives from others noticing and appreciating her hard work.

Brown enjoys the camaraderie of a bowling league and tries to incorporate that into her everyday cleaning job.

How did you get your start in the cleaning and maintenance industry?
In the early ‘70s, I was promoted to draftsperson in the maintenance department at Sterling Drug, located, at that time, in Rensselaer, NY. It was there that I became familiar with different departments, including the cleaning department. After serving in the Army, I returned home and became more in-touch with cleaning aspects, leading to a position as night supervisor, in charge of cleaning. This included cleaning machinery and rooms that were cleaned in compliance with FDA requirements. After leaving Sterling Drug, because they relocated, I found a job at Siena College where I have been employed since 1986. In 1990, I became housekeeping supervisor, which is still my position today.

Have you had any industry- related schooling or training?
I have read publications and attended many day seminars to help with training my staff and to keep up with the ever-changing cleaning world.

What does a typical day at your job entail?
Working with staff, inspecting buildings, attending meetings, and filing paperwork. Presently, with the help of my immediate supervisor, I am involved with rewriting job descriptions and putting into effect a system of creating four different job titles and pay increases: From housekeeper to cleaner, to janitor, to custodian, and finally, to building captain.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
When students return and take notice of the improvements in their building. I enjoy when someone notices that a building has been thoroughly cleaned or when they compliment a housekeeper for maintaining their living and learning areas.

What is the difference between the tasks you perform today, and the tasks you performed when you started?
I’m involved with more paperwork and more training. For example, I have to deal with MSDS and blood-borne pathogen regulations. Using superior chemicals without the health risks they used to impose and using improved equipment, such as shower machines and mini carpet spotters, are also different.

What is the best advice for newcomers in your field?
I would suggest that they stay current with changes in application and equipment.

If you could change one thing about the cleaning and maintenance industry, what would it be?
I would want all schools, institutions, and businesses to have universal cleaning standards.

If you know of someone who you think should be featured in A Clean Sweep, e-mail Richard DiPaolo at
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