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60 Seconds With – Colm McGrath

Insights |  9.27.2021

Colm McGrath, Compliance and Standards at Aramark Northern Europe, British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) Trainer and BICSc Northern Ireland Chairman, answers some questions about his role in Aramark, his Chairmanship with the BICSc and how cleaning services are becoming an increasingly integral professional service for all businesses.


Tell us about yourself:

I am now moving into my 21st year with Aramark. I came on board initially as Executive Head Chef supporting the Food Business in Northern Ireland.

I left school at 16 and got a job in a restaurant as a Commis Chef. I started at a very basic level, preparing food for the day by hand and gradually worked my way up to Head Chef in a Belfast Hotel. After this, I went to catering college and completed my qualifications. After 22 years in the industry, I got the chance to move into a catering teaching role. I use my experience and skills to help young people develop professionally and personally, and gain jobs in the hospitality industry.

I joined Aramark as Executive Chef, but very quickly my training skills were noticed, and I moved to become part of the Quality & Safety team. In 2011, I became Training and Compliance Officer within Aramark, the role I now occupy.


Tell us about your role in Aramark:

For me, every day is a learning day.

In my role, I support Aramark’s FM business mainly in Northern Ireland (NI) and across Ireland, Scotland, and England.

When delivering training on site, I get to meet a variety of people working as Cleaning Operatives. For me, it’s important to explain to them how critical their role is in a business. It may surprise people that there is a lot of training involved for Cleaning Operatives, but cleaning is a science. They are trained to carry out cleaning tasks safely, use the correct chemicals and the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).


How did you start working with BICSc and when did you become Chairman?

Over the years, I undertook key training with BICSc, the COPC (British Institute of Cleaning Science Cleaning Operative Proficiency Certificate) and the CPSS (Cleaning Professional Skills Suite), which developed my skills, became a BICSc trainer/assessor and gained the license to deliver BICSc training through Aramark’s Training Hub.

In 2012 I was asked would I like to be part of the BICSc NI branch committee and a few years later I was nominated as BICSc NI branch Chairman. I am proud of many of my achievements during my time as Chairman, including adding a “Supervisor Recognition” award in 2018 and changing the names of the awards to “BICSc NI Nation Cleaning Operative of the Year”, which I felt was more appropriate.


Aramark Northern Europe has consistently won multiple awards at the BICSc Northern Ireland Nation Awards. Can you tell us about these awards and how they signify the increased professionalisation of cleaning services? 

Over the years, Aramark has been incredibly successful at the BICSc NI Nation Awards, something I am incredibly proud of. This year alone we had 10 finalists and won three out of the four categories we entered. We have also won the “Office Category” for eight years running.

In 2015, Aramark won the BICSc Industry Training award at the Golden Service Awards (GSA). This was one of the highlights of my career as the GSA are really the “Oscars of the Cleaning Industry”!

As BICSc is the recognised “Cleaning Industry Standard” across the industry, Aramark’s Cleaning Operatives have been trained and assessed to meet these standards and this has impacted on their professional approach to cleaning tasks. The training not only develops their skills, but it also means they feel valued and part of a successful team.

There has been a growing importance placed on training for Cleaning Operatives which signifies the professionalisation of cleaning services. It is an integral part of running any business and the last 18 months of the pandemic have highlighted the growing importance of Cleaning Operatives. They are the unsung heroes of the pandemic and an integral part of ensuring our client buildings are a safe and clean environment.


Finally, what are you excited for in the year ahead as we come out of the pandemic, particularly in the Cleaning Services area?

After the 2020 awards were hugely impacted by Covid-19, I felt that this year’s awards needed to happen face-to-face so that the Cleaning Operatives got the recognition that they needed for the incredible work they had done in challenging environments over the last 18 months.

As I move into my final year of BICSc NI Nation Chairmanship, I know I will be leaving my position and committee in good stead. I look forward to working with the rest of my colleagues within Aramark to support their training needs on their contracts.

Every day is a learning day...


Since this interview, Colm has been appointed ICCA (Irish Contract Cleaning Association) representative to the European Cleaning and Facility Services Industry (EFCI) Technical & Quality Committee. The role of the Committee is to address issues related to sustainability, innovation, robotization, new techniques, products and materials, and surrounding topics. The work of the Committee may also include European standardization in the cleaning sector on technical matters.